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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 12/ 1/2010

Parker says Rhee not to blame for ouster

By Bill Turque

Here are some other points that Washington Teachers' Union president George Parker made last night after he was defeated by Nathan Saunders:

Michelle Rhee's role in his demise: "I'm not blaming the chancellor. The decisions I made as president of this union I made based on what I felt was in the best interests of our teachers and children. So I don't blame anyone."

On the union's future: "We have a younger segment of our union membership that does not see unions as having meaning or purpose. Some kind of way we have to be able to embrace all of our teachers, both our veteran teachers and young teachers. We have to find a way to get more of our younger teachers active in the union and move the union in a direction that it understands that younger teachers have different goals and objectives. Some of younger teachers, for example, felt the union should have supported more of the chancellor's and the mayor's programs But I think right or wrong, as our baby boomers retire, if the union is going to survive it is going to have to adjust to what its [younger] members believe."

What he'd have done differently: "I understand clearly that leading a union and making decisions on behalf of a union is a lot different than winning an election. I spent all of my time pretty much working on issues. I think I would have spent more time out in the schools, getting people to understand what we were doing, getting people to understand the decisions that we were making."

What Saunders should do first: Nathan's immediate priority is going to have to be relationship building. What he will be able to accomplish as a union president will depend greatly on the relationship that exists between the union, DCPS and the mayor. Clearly I think the second biggest thing is to develop a real understanding of the climate, not just locally but nationally in terms of education reform and how to find a way to embrace it in a way that we can help lead it."

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By Bill Turque  | December 1, 2010; 10:30 AM ET
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Oh... we are now officially going backwards with our schools and our city! Nathan Saunders is going to ruin what little we have left of our union! He never even came to work and did nothing the entire time he was in office except BASH George Parker!!! Why would anyone elect him???? I am sure that his votes came from the same people that keep re-electing MARION BARRY!!! And I cannot even say what I want to say about Candi Peterson. DCPS teachers... you must WAKE up! THIS IS GOING TO BE BAD!!! All I can say is... I WARNED YOU! There goes our test scores, our remodeled and newly built schools, libraries and recreation centers.. Oh gosh... and our nice contract money! It is a scary world out there and now we have to be scared of our own UNION!!! HELP! HELP! HELP!!!

Posted by: edjook8tr | December 1, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

DCPS is like no other school system in this country...

Saunders and DCPS teachers for that matter must recognize that school reform is here to stay. Accountability is here from top to bottom. The problem with the WTU is that they don't police themselves. Rather than to work in partnership with the school system to purge the system of mediocrity, they protect it, excuse it and wonder why the teaching profession in this city is frowned upon.

Sure...unions must protect due process rights, but the only way we are going to restorr our school system is through accountability.

A message to those teachers from the 70's, 80's and 90's...THOSE DAYS ARE LONG GONE!

Posted by: silkydee1 | December 1, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

silkydee1 shows his/her immense ignorance.

Honey, since the district school system was instituted back in the 1800s, the mantra has always been "reform." the 70s, 80s, 90s, are not "long gone." "REFORM" has literally been the battle cry of "school reformers" from classical curriculum proponents back in the early 1800s to the progressives of the early 1900s to the challengers during the Civil Rights era to the STRONG and powerful reform of the 1970s in curriculum making to today.

Read a book on the subject and educate yourself, stop spewing nonsense/garbage misinformation.

Rhee and her cronies would love you to believe they are the first ever to consider reform. Think again! It's been around since public schooling first started... the question has always been not WHETHER to reform, but HOW to reform. Rhee and the babies in her backpocket, like Parker, would like you to think Reform is all about turning public ed into a little capitalist/commercial playground ruled by the same mandates as the "market." Of course, if you read real research coming out of universities, and not out of thinktanks started by Rhee, you will realize how bad this idea really is.

It's not that teachers don't want "reform" and want to "leave children behind" by just going to work and doing nothing. Those comments are insulting to those of us who give all we have day in and day out to our children. We want to help, believe it or not, otherwise we would not have chosen jobs in which we get no respect and all the wrath of the public...

Conclusion: Rhee DOES NOT EQUAL REFORM! Reform has been around forever, and other people want reform. Question is, HOW?

Posted by: adcpsteacher | December 1, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse


Guess you voted for George. You sound a little bitter much like the Rhee and Fenty groupies.


Accountability must be a two-way street. All parties want the best for our students not just teacher bashing.


You could have been a leader not just a follower and b--t boy for Fenty and Rhee. Now you have joined them in the Rubber Room.

Posted by: guylady201001 | December 1, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

All of the losers (Rhee, Fenty, Parker) must be reading from the same playbook. They all said they "wanted to do what's best for children... yada, yada." None of them took any responsiblity for THEIR personal failings.

Oh, well, 3 down, 1+ (Kaya, Kamras and company) to go!

Posted by: BitterJill | December 1, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations and best of luck to N. Saunders and C. Peterson. They deserve their hard-won victory.

We can only hope that while they work to rehabilitate their union, they also recognize that the parents and other citizens and taxpayers believe that the public schools are run primarily for the children, and that there is a lot to be done, with teachers in the featured role during school time.

They will also recognize that the new mayor and the Council expect there to be progress in strengthening the quality of education services delivered to the kids.

Posted by: axolotl | December 1, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

"Some of younger teachers, for example, felt the union should have supported more of the chancellor's and the mayor's programs But I think right or wrong, as our baby boomers retire, if the union is going to survive it is going to have to adjust to what its [younger] members believe."

I respect George Parker, but I find this statement troubling. The "younger" teachers to whom he is referring are largely the "Teach for America," and the "DC Teaching Fellow" types. During the recruitment process, as a D.C. Teaching Fellows, I can attest to the fact that we were discouraged from pursuing vigorous union involvement. The suggestions to shun union activism were more subtle than overt. I suppose the same approach was used with the Teach for America recruits. We have to remember that DCPS is extraordinarily different from the surrounding jurisdictions when it comes to the composition of its teaching corps, which is overwhelmingly stacked with these types of recruits, especially in the aftermath of a Rhee administration. This anti-union brainwashing that is the emblem of these teacher-recruitment organizations undoubtedly is one of the primary reasons for the low voter turn out for the WTU election.

Thus, I do not think that the WTU needs to adjust to fit the thinking of the Teach for America and D.C. Teaching Fellow types, for I do not believe they are typical of the thinking of young teachers in general. DCPS simply needs to stop using them as much. P. G. County just severed its relationship with the New Teacher Project after just three years and has returned to recruiting teachers--shall we say--the old-fashioned way (i.e., out of educational schools, with certification, or as transitional employees). DCPS needs to return to doing the same. The union does not need to be co-opted by the philosophy of recruiting firms like the New Teacher Project and Teach for America that have their own survival interests in mind, and care much less about educating our children.

Posted by: vscribe | December 2, 2010 5:28 AM | Report abuse

vscribe wrote--

"During the recruitment process, as a D.C. Teaching Fellows, I can attest to the fact that we were discouraged from pursuing vigorous union involvement."

Can one imagine a reason that the NTP recruits--who skew from whiter and more affluent backgrounds--might be advised to shy away from "vigorous union involvement." At best, they'd be seen as meddlesome interlopers whose interests in advancing the union cause was merely do-goody dillentantism. At worst, they would be seen as wholesale avatars of The Man himself.

So, they stayed on the sidelines. A prudent move, this. They way things worked out, even a vote squarely against their own interest could have led to a backlash.

And I am quite certain that it was ever thus that the newest cadre in the teachers union was the least likely to throw down in the internecine fights. Probably apathy to some degree, but probably also deference to their elders.

Your overpoliticized argument, thin as gruel, serves only to make hay for your stalking horse to munch on.

Posted by: gardyloo | December 2, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

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