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DCPS non-teachers decry IMPACT

One of the several unorthodox features of the new IMPACT evaluation system devised by Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee is that it holds all the adults in a school building accountable to some extent for student achievement. That doesn't sit well with members of Local 2921 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), who say that nearly 100 members--school paraprofessionals and clerical staff--lost their jobs this summer after scoring poorly on IMPACT.

Non-teaching personnel have five percent of their evaluations based on so-called "schoolwide value added," or test score growth among all eligible students in a given school. Union members, who rallied in front of DCPS central offices Friday morning, say that is unreasonable.

In a statement, Michael Flood, president of Local 2921, called IMPACT "a political weapon developed to fire good employees by using shady methods to assess their performance." Flood, whose union represents about 1,300 workers, added: "Think about it, paraprofessionals, clericals and even custodians now have five percent of their evaluations based on how much test scores increase in their schools --even though they have no direct control over how testing goals are met in the classroom. That's blatantly unfair and improper. We're being set up to fail."

The union filed an unfair labor practice complaint earlier this week with the D.C. Public Employee Relations Board, asking for reinstatement of the workers fired under IMPACT.

But if test scores make up five percent of their evaluations (for some teachers it is 50 percent), then what's the rest? Ninety percent is taken up by a set of "instructional paraprofessional standards" that include categories such as "job acumen," "positive rapport with students," "dependability," "adaptability" and "customer service." It's fair to conclude that a paraprofessional or clerical worker who lost out on the five percent value-added also had to have some problems in these areas in order to be dismissed, isn't it?

"Possibly," said Dwight Kirk, a spokesman for AFSCME District Council 20. But Kirk emphasized the broader context, which is that these are relatively low-paid employees who have been working without a contract for three years. While Rhee was focused on negotiations with the Washington Teachers' Union, Kirk said, she has failed to bargain in good faith with Local 2921.

"There's a double standard here," he said.

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By Bill Turque  |  August 13, 2010; 2:59 PM ET
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It should be obvious to everyone by now that the true purpose of all these dismissals is to replace higher-paid workers with lower-paid people. In other words, it's a cost-saving device as well as an attempt to weaken labor unions. There's also the possibility that room is being made for "friends" of certain people, as in a conflict of interest.

I'm glad to hear that the union filed an unfair labor practice complaint. Relief for DC employees will undoubtedly be delivered by the courts.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 14, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I remember one year when a few schools test scores shot up, everyone on staff, teachers, counselors and even cafeteria workers, were getting big fat checks. No one complained about that.

Posted by: chelita | August 14, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I remember one year when a few schools test scores shot up, everyone on staff, teachers, counselors and even cafeteria workers, were getting big fat checks. No one complained about that.

Posted by: chelita | August 14, 2010 2:03 P


I don't believe DCPS gave out any big fat checks in the past based on test scores. Perhaps you are thinking of another school district?

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 14, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Linda, where's your proof for these wildly subjective accusations? Is that the kind of logic you taught your kids? "Just tell 'em its 'obvious' -- they'll never know the difference!" Rhee is ensuring that effective teachers and school staff are paid the big bucks, as it should be. If anyone is weakening the labor unions, it's the labor unions themselves.

Good riddance, Linda.

Posted by: cbr1 | August 16, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"Rhee is ensuring that effective teachers and school staff are paid the big bucks"

Ahhh I think that "effective teachers" is very subjective under Ms. Rhee, especially since only 8 schools made AYP.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | August 16, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse


Linda posted a short comment that was shorthand for the education "reform" agenda, but is is an accurate description. The Rhee/TFA?KIPP brand of education reform makes sense only if you consider slavery "labor reform" and the Trail of Tears "land reform.

On the other hand, if you want to see something that is truely vague, illogical and "wildly subjective," try reading the IMPACT criteria. From the examples listed above, the non-teaching evaluation appears to be just as subjective.

Posted by: mcstowy | August 16, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I am glad that the above mentioned unions have enough guts to file a lawsuit against Rhee/DCPS. The whole Impact evaluation is too new, and has not been proven to be considered effective. I pray these workers win their case. This stupid woman (Rhee) and the equally stupid mayor needs to go!

Posted by: fivetogo | August 17, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

No on Fenty.

Yes on Gray.

Posted by: PhilLombardo | August 18, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

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