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Breaking: Saunders forces Parker into WTU runoff

George Parker's five-year run as Washington Teachers' Union president is at risk, based on the preliminary count in a WTU presidential race with a stunningly low turnout. Nathan Saunders, the union's general vice president, edged Parker 334 to 313, forcing a runoff between the two former running mates turned bitter foes. Rules require that the winner get a 51 percent majority. Phelps High School teacher and veteran union activist Elizabeth Davis received 196 votes, and H.D. Cooke teacher Christopher Bergfalk got 38 votes.

All three challengers have been critical of Parker's leadership during the chancellorship of Michelle A. Rhee, and contend that he gave too much ground in negotiations for the contract that was signed and approved by teachers this past summer.

More to come.

By Bill Turque  | October 27, 2010; 7:38 PM ET
Categories:  Michelle Rhee, Washington Teachers' Union  
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Next: WTU drills dry hole in layoffs suit


Blaming Parker for the contract they overwhelmingly approved! Typical.

Posted by: confounded | October 27, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

What does this startlingly low turnout tell us about the unionistas, eh? -- after a very large percentage decided not to vote on the contract several months ago?

Does Parker have more backers than one would have thought?

Does this set the stage for the union to follow-though with threatened war on DCPS to undo the last few years? Or does it sound like a silent acceptance of things?

Posted by: axolotl | October 27, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Theory: the low turnout is owing to the presence of an unprecedented large numbers of Teach for America/D.C. Teaching Fellows types within the ranks of DCPS, thanks to the employment polices of Michelle.

Having been recruited through one of those organizations, I personally know that they discourage union activism, and their selection process favors those who already display a proclivity to reticence. They don't overtly discourage speaking out and asserting your rights and the rights of students through union protections, but most of the "indoctrination" attempts to persuade recruits of adopting the practice to avoid rocking the boat.

As I said, it's my theory...

Posted by: vscribe | October 27, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

No .. the low turnout had to do with the lack of online voting. IMPACT doesn't allow free time for personal stuff.

Posted by: NewDCPSTeacher | October 27, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

What I do know is that %65 percent of the voters want to see Parker Out!

Posted by: teachdc | October 28, 2010 6:05 AM | Report abuse

I hope this is an indication that public employee union members don't feel like voting this election cycle.

Posted by: millerroberta | October 28, 2010 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Not being able to vote online probably didn't help.

Also, having pretty much a choice between and incompetent current union president (Parker), and a more competent person with views that are antithetical to a lot of teachers (Saunders) led to people throwing the hands up in the air in disgust.

I don't support this, since I do think it is vital that people vote for their "leadership", but for a lot of people, it didn't matter because they both stink.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | October 28, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Well, for a run-off between Parker and Saunders I bet the TFA kids will be encouraged to come out in suppport of Parker.

I agree with the assessment that many of the TFA are in essence plants that knowingly don't support a unionized system.

Posted by: oknow1 | October 28, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I was told that the votes of the persons who were employed as of 6/30/10 who are not longer with DCPS were not counted. According to the AFT announcement these votes should have been included in the count.

Posted by: guylady201001 | October 28, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Wyrm1. I think a box for "none of the above" would have won hands down.

And regardless of what others may think, to believe that the WTU actually possesses any power is laughable. I mean if we can't even scrape together 900 teachers to vote, what kind of a political threat do you think they pose? Right now, not much of anything. The WTU will not be turning the clock back on anything as they have no power. Not to mention the fact that the DCPS teachers don't want it.

What this election says is that the teaching core of DCPS is unimpressed with and possibly completely disillusioned with their union and see no viable way out. I know that is the feeling in my building. The most common comment, "What's the point, they all s*ck?" Most of us would like to reconstitute our union into a more modern, and professional organization.

Posted by: scinerd1 | October 28, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

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