Parker out as Washington Teachers' Union chief
Updated 9:00 p.m.
George Parker, who negotiated a contract that left D.C. teachers better paid but less secure in their jobs, has lost the presidency of the Washington Teachers' Union to General Vice President Nathan Saunders by a vote of 556 to 480.
The total vote represents less than a quarter of the of the union's 4,200 members. But Saunders,who will be installed as president effective tomorrow, said the result reflects deep unhappiness with the new IMPACT evaluation system and Parker's lack of commitment to union democracy.
The new system, introduced by former Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee in 2009, holds some teachers accountable for growth in student test scores. All teachers must meet a series of criteria for classroom performance outlined in a detailed new framework. More than 120 teachers were dismissed last summer for low IMPACT scores. Saunders has vowed to pursue all judicial, legislative and lobbying efforts to address what he considers IMPACT's unfairness.
"The teachers are very clear about what they want," Saunders said Tuesday evening. "Clearly this is a race about job security and about IMPACT. It is also a race about teachers being participatory in the process and not just reactive."
Reached at WTU offices, a subdued Parker said he accepted the results and planned no legal challenge.
"The bottom line is we didn't turn the voters out," he said. "I would have loved to have had a higher turnout. It is clear there is a lot of apathy out there."
But Parker said he also paid a price for supporting some of the changes Rhee pressed for, including performance pay and greater latitude for principals hiring from the pool of "excessed" teachers who lost their jobs due to enrollment or program changes.
"Any union president that is pushing and getting in front of reform takes a risk and I took a risk," he said. "I don't feel bad about any of the decisions because I think ultimately to improve education in this country, union presidents are going to have to get in front of reform."
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| November 30, 2010; 6:09 PM ET
Categories: Washington Teachers' Union
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