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Teachers wait for District to show them the money

UPDATED: 1:03 p.m.

Sept. 10 is the date.
That's the first regular payday of the upcoming school year. David Umansky, spokesman for Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, said his office is still waiting for DCPS to supply certain basic information, including a list of the approximately 4,200 employees eligible to receive the payment. Once that is in hand, he said, each teacher's salary history will have to be produced--pay period by pay period--going back to Oct. 1 2007. Payments to each union member will have to figured out individually because teachers receive different kinds of compensation--for administrative duties, etc.--that is not part of the retroactive calculation.

"We cannot use just their total wages. We must calculate based on the regular hours worked and paid," he said, adding that the office is also waiting for the school system earning codes it needs to compute the regular wages.

Earlier today:

This spring when the Washington Teachers' Union urged educators to ratify the new contract, "an immediate raise" of 11 percent was guaranteed. That represented six percent in retroactive pay hikes for 2007-09 and another five percent for the school year that just ended.

"DCPS has assured the WTU that the school district will begin the process of preparing retroactive checks immediately following approval by the city council," said one of the many Q & A sheets the union produced.

The council approved the pact on June 29. But teachers who were expecting some extra dough for a summer trip or to clean up the credit cards will have to make other plans. It appears that there will be nothing "immediate" about the payment, and it's beginning to look like another instance of DCPS and the office of Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi encountering trouble finding the same page.

"We're trying to work with the OCFO to get a timeline on the retros," Rhee said in an e-mail. A response from Gandhi's office, promised Thursday night, was promised anew before the close of business Friday.

WTU president George Parker, sounding restless in Seattle, where he is attending the American Federation of Teachers convention, said he expected the money to be available about a month after council action.

"We expected it to be done relatively quickly," he said, adding that he's scheduled a Friday conference call with DCPS.

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By Bill Turque  |  July 9, 2010; 11:23 AM ET
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This is exactly why I voted "NO" for this bogus contract. If anyone actually read the contract, there was a clause in it which stated that basically that neither DCPS, DC Gov. nor the Fed. Govt. were responsible if funds were not available.

Teachers have been bamboozled! I knew we'd never see the money but we'll sure see Michelle Rhee continue her rampage and wrath against teachers. The firing and disrespect will continue because this contract has made it even easier for her and principals to fire teachers.

To all my fellow DCPS colleagues: You got what you voted for...and unfortunately those of us who didn't vote for it got it as well. See you in the unemployment line.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | July 9, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, did that $30 million or so just disappear again? Now WHO ould have seen that coming. Memo to the WTU, better make sure you get your $$ before the Primary in September, or you'll never see it. As your next year's raises; I have a bridge you can buy with that extra money.

Posted by: mcstowy | July 9, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Everyone who is adamantly against firing teachers needs to read this great article about LA's "Dance of the Lemons" which is where incompetent teachers move from school to school with the acceptance of their union. It's sad, but eye-opening.

Posted by: bbcrock | July 9, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Does that mean Kwame Brown's wife who's a DCPS teacher will have to wait...before cleaning up the family credit. Well, that won't happen if Mr. Brown becomes Chair he will make it happen in a heartbeat. Oooops, isn't Vincent Orange wife a DCPS teacher too, that also wouldn't happen under his watch too.

How ironic...that the two men who are running for council-chair both have wives who can benefit from this windfall.

Teachers, just be patient the money is coming, don't worry about a thing as sure as the sky is blue, you all will get your money, even if we have to keep Rhee around for one more year...y'all gonna get your money. In the mean time, enjoy your summer vacation.

Posted by: PowerandPride | July 9, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Why exactly should the teachers receive their pay swiftly? Why is the Union leader acting so insolent and demanding? Most of the teachers and administrators--even at the "best" DCPS schools--do not react swiftly to the students' needs. They are sloppy, abusive and uncaring toward their students the majority of the time. It's a real tragedy. So where does president Parker get the cheek to sound so "restless" about his teachers' need getting met. This is a quid pro quo world, people. Let DCPS start showing its students some quid and then they can start claiming their quo. When are the Mayor and student council actually going to start caring about Washington's kids? And when is the teachers' union going to do the same rather than running to the papers with its non-stop complaints?

Posted by: calhern | July 9, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

It's not that hard. Every teacher has a step and a level of education. You go backwards to find their pay, and multiply. I could write a script to do it in 2 hours. I'm afraid that the money probably isn't there and may not be. I mean, they can refuse to pay and then what are teachers going to do?

Calhern, are you basing your slander of DCPS teachers on the hundreds of them that you have worked with? Tens? One? I can tell you that most DCPS teachers are hard working and caring (in fact the incompetent ones manage to hang on because they are caring). I know there are some not very good teachers in DCPS, but critizing all DCPS teachers only demonstrates either a lack of knowledge about what teachers do, or a political desire to criticize teachers.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 9, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

to bbcrock: No one is against firing ineffective teachers. It's the arbitrary firing of teachers by Rhee (and then slandering them) when she had hired more than 900 prior to that so there would inevitably be a RIF. Due process is all we want.

to calhern: Teachers should receive our money swiftly because this contract is retroactive back to 10/1/07 when the last contract expired. That means it's money we've already earned but haven't received for work we've already completed. And by they way, I do react swiftly to my students' needs. I received more than a 3.9 out of 4.0 on my IMPACT. So according to Rhee's new system, I'm "highly effective" and according to the numerical score, damn near perfect. So, yeah, I want the money owed to me for work already performed over the last 2 years and 10 months. I know I've earned it and I believe I deserve it.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | July 9, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

to Wyrm1: Thanks for your defense of DCPS teachers! Much appreciated!

Posted by: UrbanDweller | July 9, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Since I am a DCPS teacher, I feel obliged to defend those of my coworkers who are doing their jobs. I am not loved by some of my coworkers because of my criticism of those who do not but those are the breaks.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 9, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

To Calhern: your comments are ignorant, and obviously uninformed. You cannot make generalized statments about things that you so blatently know very little about. Have you visited most schools, have you had encounters with most teachers or administrators ? I doubt it. In addition, noone is running to the paper with complaints. The paper is reporting news that they solicit. That's what sells newspapers. Do your homework and post something that sounds half-way intelligent next time. Also, you need to check your grammar as well. " His teachers' need getting met". That should be needs getting met. The average student in DCPS would know that is incorrect grammar, thanks to the dedicated and self-less teachers you know nothing about among other things. Instead of posting slanderous remarks that serve no purpose, go take an online grammar class or better yet, go visit every school in DCPS so your facts can be accurate the next time you decide to post something.

Posted by: teacher1231 | July 9, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Also Calhern: do you even know what the definition of insolent is ? Let me help you out, my little uneducated poster. It means boldly rude, disrespectful or insulting. Since you are obviously not a DCPS teacher, how has he been disrepectful, rude, or insulting to you? I am a DCPS teacher and I am not insulted, nor do I feel Mr. Parker has been rude or disrepectful to me. Here's a tip for you, the next time you are near a DCPS school go in and take a class. Your remarks indicate that not only are you not informed but not very articulate. Use words that you know the meaning of. Why don't you start with the Dolch Word List, if you even know what that is. After a couple of months, try to work on some more complex words. In the mean time, stick to what you know. My eight year old nephew is more articulate than you are.

Posted by: teacher1231 | July 9, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Also Calhern: do you even know what the definition of insolent is ? Let me help you out, my little uneducated poster. It means boldly rude, disrespectful or insulting. Since you are obviously not a DCPS teacher, how has he been disrepectful, rude, or insulting to you? I am a DCPS teacher and I am not insulted, nor do I feel Mr. Parker has been rude or disrepectful to me. Here's a tip for you, the next time you are near a DCPS school go in and take a class. Your remarks indicate that not only are you not informed but not very articulate. Use words that you know the meaning of. Why don't you start with the Dolch Word List, if you even know what that is. After a couple of months, try to work on some more complex words. In the mean time, stick to what you know. My eight year old nephew is more articulate than you are.

Posted by: teacher1231 | July 9, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

The whole notion of having to produce each teacher's salary "pay period by pay period--going back to Oct. 1 2007" is nothing more than a stall tactic. All of our salaries are coded on our pay stubs. Any additional administrative premiums are listed as separate entities under the earned pay for the particular pay period, but they ARE NOT included in our coded, yearly salary. A quickly-produced computer printout would make this a very easy task to accomplish.

I predicted something like this would happen, as there were so many discrepancies/concerns articulated about the available funds. (One minute, there was a deficit; the next, a surplus. And let's not forget the seemingly anger-laced email salvos fired between rhee and Gandhi. One debacle after another.) This attempt to delay is shameful, though not unexpected, given the players.

Posted by: schooletal | July 9, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

@Wyrm1: Political? Like politically anti-learning? No, sorry, that's not me. Why such a question? Because I believe that Washington's children should be well-educated and well-treated? Are you defending the non-caring and bullying of DCPS teachers for political reasons? How many have I dealt with? Let me think. About 15 and then many administration members and assistants to the administrators. And then I've observed others. I have dealt with some wonderful DCPS teachers, by the by. But they are few and far between. Lazy, inept, bullying, unprepared, self-centered, angry and HORRIBLY educated is the norm. I question the Union president's demands not because of some political position I have but because that was the subject of the article. But it is telling that you would bring up the political angle because that is what you find in DCPS from top to bottom: a lot of politics...but very little schooling. So I find it incredibly cheeky for the Union president to go to the newspaper and start making these demands. It's so tragic to see how the teachers have such a strong loud, advocate but that the kids who really need a strong, loud advocate don't have one.

Posted by: calhern | July 9, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

@teacher1231 I would love to show you years worth of notes home from DCPS teachers to show you the abominable quality of grammar in them. It is absolutely hilarious to see you talking about my grammar and comparing it to DCPS students. If you are a teacher, then your comments only confirm my earlier comments about the tragically substandard teaching that Washington kids are exposed to on a daily basis. You evidently do not see how poorly the kids write or you would not promote their grammar like this. It is awful in most cases. I can only conclude that you are saying this because, like many DCPS teachers, you simply don't look at the students' work and see how atrocious the grammar is. The fact that you sit there and defend the below-standard level of teaching in DCPS (shall I show you test results?) and then on top of it demand your back pay--wow! This is the same cheekiness of the Union president. I am afraid that many other DC teachers--not all, but many--are as out of touch as you appear to be and are way more concerned about their seniority and back pay than in educating the defenseless children of Washington. But then again, a teacher with full seniority is walking out of his school with 110 G a year and summers off. Nice work if you can get it, and your students can even come in consistently at the bottom in national testing...not to mention in-class tests. Given the historically low quality of teaching in DCPS, your self-righteous and defensive tone is indefensible.

Posted by: calhern | July 9, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

How surprising. Back when Rhee was fighting about this with the Council and Ghandi we must have heard and read in the press about the retroactive raises being funds available "immediately", as in yesterday. I'm a parent who has seen it all, as have my kids' hard-working teachers. This is just terrible but sadly not unexpected. Don't count on the funds ever coming.

Posted by: modern1 | July 9, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

So are we to assume that the contract-guaranteed raises will not go into effect until then? Because I'm sure them having to calculate the additional weeks of retro pay (for this summer) will not make them move any faster. Ugh.

Posted by: SPEDteachDC | July 10, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

15? Wow! What a huge cross-sample of DCPS teachers. That's almost 1% of them (well, not really...).

I absolutely agree with you that the kids in DCPS should be well educated and well treated. I see every day approximately 80 teachers. Of them, about 75 of them treat their kids well, and probably 65-70 do a good job educating them. I'm not claiming their aren't some bad teachers, there are and I've been very outspoken on being able to get rid of them.

You generalize from 15 teachers that all teachers in DCPS don't care or don't teach, and that's just not true. If you say you have seen some good ones, that implies that you have dealt with about 10 bad ones? That's 10 too many, but still not nearly enough to generalize about.

Now, if you want to criticize administrators and their assistants, I'm game, that's something that a teacher can really get excited about :-)

Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 10, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

@ Wyrm1: From the 15 teachers I mentioned I am generalizing about the entire school that my kids and I are dealing with. That's much more than 1% of this school's teachers, and the school is much more than 1% of all DC schools. And this school is supposedly among the best in the system. I shudder to think what goes on in the middling to poor schools. So the sarcasm about my "huge cross-sampling of DCPS teachers" won't fly. My numbers are statistically meaningful.

You "see" 80 teachers every day. Well, I wasn't adding up the number of teachers that I "see." I was commenting on the ones that I have direct experience with and the ones I am basing my judgments on. If I add in the ones that I "see," the quality goes down even further. Among the ones who I "see," I find bullying behavior and lack of attention. Often times I wonder whether these teachers weren't trained in the prison or reformatory system given the screaming and arbitrary treatment of students that I "see." Their behavior is indefensible.

If you think that I am generalizing about the sub-standard quality of teaching in the DC schools, look at the test scores. Look at the drop out rate. Look at the comparison with other big, affluent cities. Look at the quality of the school work. It is "generally" atrocious. And look at the standards--shockingly low. These are standards use to teach idiots, not bright kids, which the majority of DCPS kids are.

This is why I am shocked by the temerity of the Union leader and his demand for swift payment of back pay. Where does he get the cheek--and where do DCPS teachers get the cheek--to be demanding back pay for substandard work? The only decent innovation I've heard about so far is the pay-for-performance one. There is no earthly reason why teachers and administrators should be topping out in the low 6 digits for the atrocious work they do. None. Given the test scores for DCPS students, this is grotesque.

I cannot fathom why you and other DCPS teachers are defending this system. Even worse, the DCPS story is such an old one. And it's still being defended. This is outrageous. These are innocent children we are talking about and they are being treated like animals. Not in EVERY SINGLE case, but in the majority of cases I've come across they are. That's why the majority of DCPS students read and reason at a below average level.

Even the mayor can't send his kids to his neighborhood school. That ought to be a tip off.

Posted by: calhern | July 10, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Wyrm1 -- your candid "admission" of the "bad" teacher rate only opens the door. Do some extrapolation.

Also, consult all the denials. Ask yourself why these teachers have thrived untreated in the system for years. And even after three years of some attention to some of the poor performers, there still are a lot left.

Ask one of our remaining effective teachers whether this problem produces a spiraling effect, that tends to drive good, committed teachers out.

Also, ask yourself why some teachers rabidly attack TFA and any other competing source to their monopoly. Ask why not just Impact, but any eval scheme, has been attacked by a large group of teachers.

And ask yourself why the union is the way it is, a reflection of the teacher corps as a whole. Look at the proportion who bothered to vote on the contract, not just how they voted.

Ask yourself--if they can't get involved enough in their own professional interest, what are the odds they can remain motivated to help The Children learn?

All stakeholders in the District, even Vince Gray, need to work to keep and develop our good teachers and those with potential, but still show the door to others who do not cut it. No one benefits from this more than The Children, a concept, indeed a term, that troubles some teachers who comment here.

When will teachers recognize that the DCPS is not run primarily for them, but for The Children?

Posted by: axolotl | July 10, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I guess the bigger issue is that I don't see these awful teachers that you do.

I concede the possibility that we have different ideas of what an incompetent teacher looks like and does or does not do, but I doubt that. I've seldom seen teachers treating students with bullying behavior (as in I can think of about 5 instances in about the last 7 years). I suppose the percentage that are not doing a good job is higher. By extrapolation from what I said earlier about 10-15%. Is that too many, yeah, it is, but you are generalizing to all teachers in DCPS. Do you really think that any professional group has less then 10% of underperformers?

I hate it when kids don't graduate, or go to class, or learn. However, much as I acknowledge that teachers are a large part of student achievement, you might consider how much of student achievement is outside of our control. Am I a bad teacher because 10 of my 25 students have never been in my classroom? I've called parents, I've sent letters, I've seen the kids in the halls and begged them to come to class. Somewhere in there has to be student accountability, and that doesn't happen.

As for Axotol's Questions...(my opinion only...)

1. Poor teachers have been allowed to thrive. I support and have supported making it easier to get rid of them. However, it has always been possible to get rid of underperforming teachers, it's just that the administrators and central office haven't wanted to. While I do blame the teachers who aren't working, there are lots of other people to blame for this lack.

2. Yep, it does. It frustrates the heck out of me when crappy teachers are teaching and messing up my kids. Hence my supporting getting rid of the 10% or so of poor teachers, but again, you seem to think the number is 50-60%, and that's just not true.

3. TFA teachers are no more effective then regular teachers, and tend to leave before they become effective. That said, I don't object to them particularly. As for evaluation, IMPACT is significantly better then other measures of evaluation, but it is way too subjective. That said, it was nice to be evaluated this year, it was the first time in 7 years that I had been.

4. As for my union, can't stand it, specifically their inability to actually do anything. I cannot say why some teachers chose not to vote. But to say that motivation to vote or not on a contract maps onto being motivated to work with students is a bit of a reach.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 10, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

@ axolotl: Thanks for your comment, "When will teachers recognize that the DCPS is not run primarily for them, but for The Children?"

That sums it up beautifully. I wanted to say the same thing but couldn't put it concisely. You said it for me. Thanks.

In fact, based on my many years of experience, this is a wonderful diagnosis of what one finds. The teachers and administrators I encounter often act like little princes and princesses of their little fiefdoms, bestowing favors and punishments on students and adults alike according to their whim . The insolence is amazing. And I see it again reflected in the Union president's demands for swiftly payment of back pay.

Here's a modest proposal: When the DC public school students get their back education, back respect, and back attention to their needs as children, then the teachers can get their back pay. The teachers and their Union president have this strange notion that the city should honor its contract with them, but that they are somehow excused from honoring their own contract to the kids.

It is also essential that teacher testing begin as quickly as possible.

Posted by: calhern | July 10, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

@ Wyrm1: I am glad that you concede that there are long-standing problems with teachers. I believe that you underestimate by a huge amount the number of deficient teachers. Again, I ask you to compare your 10% figure with the high percentage of vastly underachieving students. The two percentages simply do not tally.

I am singling out poor teachers here because of the topic of the article. I don't think that's the only reason for the schools' failures. I believe that parents have a huge role to play in under performance, too, so don't think I'm letting them off the hook.

But even when it comes to parents, a lot of the problems circle back to the schools themselves. I don't doubt that you are calling parents regularly, but I also know that the schools will only go so far in involving the parents. For example, in- school suspensions can't be taken seriously. The only way a parent will deal with his or her kids disciplinary problems will be when the parent has some skin in the game. When the parent has to deal with his or her child being kept out of school for a week, the parent will make sure it doesn't happen again.

To say that you haven't been evaluated for seven years--well, what more really needs to be said? Multiply that by all the teachers in the system, and you basically have a group of teachers who have been operating for seven-plus years on the honor system. That only invites disaster.

Posted by: calhern | July 10, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, this back pay is owed based on the contract just agreed to and based on Rhee's, apparantly false, representations that it would be paid immediately. Just another lie to add to her growing list. You can't believe a word she says. Any teacher that relied on her promise to vote for the contract was played for a chump. (As have the Districts parents and students.)

Posted by: mcstowy | July 12, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh, ye of little faith!

I absolutely guarantee the retroactive pay checks will be in the hands of all DCPS teachers (or at least those who live in DC) before September 14.

How do I know that?

Silly, September 14 is primary election day for Mayor.

Posted by: Trulee | July 12, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

This could be a computer programming issue. It may be the that the computer code has to be altered in order to do the calculations.

Posted by: jlp19 | July 12, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

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