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Posted at 8:13 AM ET, 02/11/2011

In DCPS, labor- management not so collaborative

By Bill Turque

DCPS and the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) were supposed to be big players at next week's Department of Education conference on labor-management collaboration in Denver, which is expected to draw representatives from 150 school districts.

They were listed as presenters, to discuss the 2010 collective bargaining agreement as an exemplar of, in Secretary Arne Duncan's words, "what is possible when adults come together, particularly in tough times, to do the right thing for kids."

But the District team dropped out a couple of weeks ago, because it seems that the adults are not all that together. When I asked Interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson why they weren't going, she said "one of our team members notified me on Monday [Jan. 31] that he could not participate and without a full team in place, we are unable to attend."

The team member who dropped out was WTU president Nathan Saunders, who said in a letter to Henderson that he was invited to the Denver conference by DCPS "human capital" czar Jason Kamras, but only if Saunders brought along former union president--and his long-time nemesis--George Parker. Saunders said in the letter that when he complained to Henderson and the American Federation of Teachers (a conference co-sponsor) the contingency was lifted. But the damage was evidently done.

"In my view, my participation in the conference would project an an image of a working relationship between WTU and DCPS which at this time does not exist," he wrote. "I will not be a hypocrite."

Henderson said Thursday evening that Parker's inclusion was not a requirement, only a request that made sense because he helped negotiate the contract. "Nathan wasn't at the table at all," Henderson said. (Saunders, in fact, actively campaigned against its ratification by teachers).

The Denver matter is only one of several grievances Saunders has accumulated early in Henderson's tenure as interim chancellor. He chided her for sending a sympathetic e-mail to a long-time WTU field representative he'd recently fired.

"I just heard the terrible news about Nathan firing you," the e-mail said, according to Saunders' letter. "I'm SO sorry to hear that. I'm really worried that he's letting go many of the people who have actually made this relationship work."

Saunders told Henderson he resented the unsolicited critique of his personnel decisions and that he would appreciate it if she stayed out of union business. He wrote that the e-mail "was not only highly inappropriate and unprofessional, it was in violation of your legal obligations."

Henderson said she did express her regrets because the union staffer in question was "instrumental in working with us to eliminate a backlog of grievances and really helped change the way DCPS and WTU worked together to resolve issues."

Maybe they'll make it to the next conference on labor-management collaboration.

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By Bill Turque  | February 11, 2011; 8:13 AM ET
 
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Comments

Bill Turque should be writing for STAR or some other tabloid. He should not be writing for the Wshington Post. When I think of the Post, I think of Eugene Robinson. The articles that Turque writes are nothing short of a tabloid. This is not news, nor does it merit coverage.

The behind the scenes process that often happens in schools needs to be respected as private for the sake of kids. It seems that Turque simply writes articles that undermine the leadership of the system at any cost...It's disgusting- there is no doubt that this kind of underhanded tabloid coverage hurts the school system- and is a tremendous factor in what has prevented parents from choosing DCPS and for making a mockery of good work by many teachers, administrators and yes, even the Chancellor's office.

Turque rarely covers anything about the system that promotes a positive view. In the last 3 years scores have increased, a new teacher evaluation system has been implemented and parents are choosing DCPS again. Yes- there are problems. But, what organization in transition doesn't struggle to find its way?

I fear that In the age of technology and the age of the disappearing newspaper, editorialists are overlooking the credibility and legitimacy of a story simply to get it out there in real-time. This is extremely dangerous.

No school system in the country has been so underminded by its own local newspaper as the Washington Post. What a sad commentary on the state of journalism in this country. How can DCPS ever recover and improve when people like Bill Turque can write such garbage.

Even now, after Rhee has been gone for over 3 months, he continues to attack her in the press. What a sham! What a terrible, terrible person. His only legacy at the Post will be how he worked diligently every day to ensure that students in DCPS never improve and never secure leadership who will have the opportunity to make change.

I wouldn't let him write for a newsletter. He belongs with the Glen Beck's of the world. Nowhere!

Posted by: teacher6402 | February 11, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Saunders, and his DCPS teachers, have a lot more grievances than that! First among them is returning the system, as it relates to teachers, to where it was pre-Rhee. Things were working just fine thank you very much.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 11, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I love Bill Turque and his respectful journalism. It's the first thing I read each and every day. He has given a voice to what really happens in education with the blue suits. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: wtf1 | February 11, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

@teacher6402

Your attacks on Bill and the WP are very funny. THE TRUTH REALLY HURTS. George is gone and will NOT BE BACK.

Henderson should worry about coming up with the cash to pay the people she fired without following due process. Perhaps she will hire the fired employee so that employee can continue to stab teachers in the back. They are two of a kind.

Talk about back log of grievances, this WTU field rep and others were known to stone wall teachers and routinely loss data, etc. She was not doing her job.

You can deny it all you want but your love affair with Rhee, Henderson and Rheeform is being exposed as VooDoo worship.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | February 11, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Turque, you are great! You tell the truth.

Posted by: resc | February 11, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Today is a great day for American schoolchildren because the "lies, damned lies and statistics" of the educational "reform" movement have been exposed by the mainstream media. Bill Turque has my gratitude and respect for being among the first journalists to actually question some of the ridiculous claims made by these "reformers."

Hopefully now that the truth is coming out we can take measures that teachers know will truly help our poorest children. Here's what we do know:

The "achievement gap" is well established by kindergarten. To remedy this, we can provide infant and toddler monitoring, as well as high-quality preschool for our poorest children.

Parents are the most important variables in a child's education. We can accept this obvious truth and find ways of supporting impoverished parents.

Teachers are the most important variable in the school. We can provide our poorest children with experienced, well-qualified teachers with track records of success. We can STOP the hiring of the least experienced teachers for the lowest-performing schools.

Extremely disruptive children interfere with the learning of other children. We can provide extra services to help these children (extra teacher in classroom? special class? counseling?).

Very poor children suffer learning loss over the summer while advantaged children gain. We can provide year-long schooling for disadvantated children.

Certain teaching strategies are much more effective than others. We can make certain that all teachers learn these strategies.

Very small classes (fewer than 15) are effective with all children, but especially helpful with low-achieving children. We can strive for very small classes in our lowest-performing schools.

Healthy children do better in school than unhealthy children. We can provide healthcare for our poorest children. Nurses and counselors would help also.

Does all of the above sound expensive? Well, it is, but there is no cheap or "miraculous" way to level the educational playing field for all our children. Hopefully Mayor Gray and the new superintendent (get rid of that stupid term "chancellor") of DCPS will start with one neighborhood and show what can be accomplished when citizens face the truth.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 11, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Bill Turque is fantastic.

Posted by: johnt4853 | February 11, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Jason Kamras was a great teacher. It take nothing away from those accomplishments. Its too bad he failed as the director of teacher capital something or other. He has zero respect for the teaching profession and needs to follow his cult leader out of Washington, DC. Its unfortunate that they chose conflict and to scapegoat the teacher unions as a way to address the seemingly intractable issues facing many students in this city. Teacher unions are problematic, but there are much larger forces failing America's poor children. I will rejoice as much as the Egyptians are rejoicing today when he resigns as the pressure begins to build on the TFA cultish regime that has embedded itself in Washington DC.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | February 11, 2011 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Great report on Newshour tonight. They previewed a program called Need to Know that will be focused on in depth on PBS tonight at 8pm (I think). Another great idea: kids who struggle in school do physical exercise right before class to increase their energy and awareness. Early results show them reading at a half-year higher level than their counterparts that do not exercise. The kids in general need PE everday! Yes, it will cost money! Public education cannot be done on the cheap with an expectation that results are going to be different in lower socio-economic areas.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | February 11, 2011 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I for one am grateful someone in a teacher's union is willing to stand up for what is right and stop selling out classroom teachers simply for a "seat at the table", a seat which never seems to exist. Someone has to stand up to Duncan for the sake of public education. Take back our schools!

Posted by: WorkingT | February 11, 2011 9:30 PM | Report abuse

LindaRetiredTeacher...

There are a ton of good, effective teachers in DCPS, but the problem is you and your union fail to hold your own accountable. You would get more respect if you supported the removal of ineffective teachers. You know good and well, there are some teachers that have no business being in front of anybody's children! Why can't you support their removal...cream rises to the top.

Pay attention to the world...education reform is not going anywhere.

Also, did you know that DCPS had been one of the worst ranked school systems in the country...even behind Detriot Public Schools and New Orleans...

Who's accountable for that? Principals, bus drivers, aides, Superintendent, human resources...

What about teachers?

Posted by: rickyroge | February 11, 2011 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Rickyroge:

If you read my posts, you will see that I am a big advocate of placing the very best teachers in our poorest schools. This is the job of administration and not "the unions." Teachers can only advocate but they can't hire teachers. Perhaps you didn't know this, but Rhee had an opportunity to hire the very best teachers possible. Because of the recession, she could have combed the nation for highly qualified teachers with experience and track records of success. Instead she hired inexperienced people right out of college. Why did she do this?

As for accountability: Who is more accountable than a schoolteacher? Try taking thirty seven-year-olds on a field trip and you will know the meaning of the word.

Teaching is such a difficult job that half of all new teachers quit during their first five years. Many know they are not suited to the profession and quit after getting a lot of negative feedback from parents, administrators, students and colleagues. Some are asked to resign; their contracts are not renewed at the end of the year.

I definitely support accountability for teachers. After all, they are alone with many children each day. As I said, half leave the profession, making it the most self-selective of all the professions. Do you want accountability? Well, you certainly have it with teachers!

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 11, 2011 11:38 PM | Report abuse

LindaRetiredTeacher....

I certainly understand some of the angst over the Rhee era, however, I cannot understand the tears cried if INEFFECTIVE teachers are fired.

I have a colleague who teaches in suburban Atlanta and he tells me that teachers are revered there...the difference with here in there, he says, is that teachers hold their own accountable and would not tolereate mediocrity in their buildings or in the profession.

Posted by: rickyroge | February 12, 2011 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Rickyroge: would you agree that there are schools in DCPS where teachers are held accountable and mediocrity is not tolerated? I assure you, there are because I work at one. I would agree with you that not all schools are in this category. I've worked at those in DCPS as well. The point that the central office doesn't get is that the functioning/growing schools do not need to be lumped in with the schools that need restructuring/more scrutiny/whatever. Its gross mismanagement to treat each school with the same remedies.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | February 12, 2011 9:10 AM | Report abuse

rickyroge:

You don't understand: Many of us don't believe that ineffective teachers were fired. We think EFFECTIVE teachers were fired in DC in order to make room for new teachers from Rhee's organization. Apparently the arbitrator agreed with this interpretation.

Nationwide fifty percent of all teachers leave the profession for many reasons. Many are counseled out by parents, administrators, other teachers or the rigors of working with students. They do not have their contracts renewed at the end of the year.

In all my 42 years of teaching I saw many, many teachers leave the classroom in frustration or in response to unhappy parents, students and administrators. How much "accountability" do you want?

No one is more accountable than a schoolteacher. The current nonsense has been fabricated for the purpose of getting rid of older, more expensive teachers and hiring the less expensive. It's the recession. Actually what happened in DC is a good example of why teachers, and other government employees, need due process protection against arbitrary and capricious dismissals. Basically a new politician came in, fired many teachers and placed her own people in the job. That's exactly what happened to teachers (fireman, police officers, etc.) before due process laws were instituted.

Please learn the facts about the current situation. Teachers need your help.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 12, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

The fact is that only 180 DCPS teachers are from TFA (or as just out of college). So please stop repeating that lie.

There are over 4000 teachers in DCPS, more than half of them have tenure. Of the tenured group of teachers, almost half lack basic competency in the subjects they teach.

Read this WP report:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/metro/interactives/dcschools/

And then read Richard Whitmire's new book, which is a great follow-up to the Post report.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 12, 2011 11:09 AM | Report abuse

The NEW teachers are TFA or just out of college. Check on it yourself.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 12, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

frankb1 sounds like a TFAer. Anyone who who site the WP and Whitmire is questionable.

Also, you state "There are over 4000 teachers in DCPS, more than half of them have tenure. Of the tenured group of teachers, almost half lack basic competency in the subjects they teach."

Source, please.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | February 12, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

correction

cite not site

Posted by: dccounselor72 | February 12, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Only 180 DCPS teachers are TFA recruits. My source is Richard Whitmire's new book and DCPS records. What's your source?

DCPS records show 1918 new teachers (hired after June 2007). Almost all of these new teachers hired by Rhee/DCPS came from other school systems around the country. Again, my source is the same.

The truth is that Rhee/DCPS hired lots of experienced teachers, and a few "just out of college". The goal was to get the best & brightest.

The real problem is a significant group of tenured DCPS classroom teachers that don't have the fundamental skills required to teach.

Read the Post education report, and the Whitmire book, and then tell me you disagree. Until then I'll assume you don't really care to know the facts.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 12, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Basic competency is defined as having earned a degree or passed a competency test in subjects taught.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/09/AR2007060901415.html

Posted by: frankb1 | February 12, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

frankb1 -- exactly right. Thanks, again for the facts and for your conclusions.

Linda TRT -- you are trying so hard. Even from 3000 miles away, your knowledgeable meddling is almost always appreciated.

But give it a rest on accountability, Linda. Your example of accountability -- taking a bunch of youngsters on a class trip--is just....silly and evasive.

We mean bearing the professional consequences of the classroom education results that teachers achieve, or don't achieve. In Washington too many teachers, certainly most posting here, will not take responsibility, or agree to be accountable for, education during classroom time. They distance themselves from the (sorry) results. And too many resist the very idea of being evaluated--by observation, by test results, by parental views.

Nope, this unaccountable/non-responsible -by-their-own-claim subset of teachers asserts they do a great job; hardly anyone agrees. Ask parents at random.

Of course we have some very good teachers, but those are not the ones we are talking about. Good teachers know they have to be responsible and do something positive and productive to warrant being paid and having our respect. Being able to conduct a field trip is not what we are talking about.

Posted by: axolotl | February 12, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

axoloti, I hear what you are saying. The problem with it is that its become almost to know what teachers could actually accomplish if left to their own devices. Teachers I know from the past 40 years decry the amount of interference from people telling them how to do their jobs. I can attest to it. You can barely think straight after getting worked over year after year by people trying to tell you how to do it. The TFA reformers, to their credit, have allowed teachers to build their own curriculum to cover standards. The problem is that instead of introducing the ideas under IMPACT as guidelines, they forced them down teacher's throat in an ill-conceived fashion. They are presented as dogma. Thinking people do not accept dogma. Do you want teachers to be thinking people or would you rather them be automatons?

Some parents get it, others don't. They should be involved in the issues, but mainly they should work with their kids at home and ensure they are prepared to learn each day. I assure you that many are not.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | February 12, 2011 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Ax:

In regard to my living so far away, I can refer you to Thomas Friedman's book "The World Is Flat." Times are changing rapidly. The fact that you and I can respond to one another so easily is evidence of that. Am I "meddling," or am I participating in a public forum?

Perhaps my example of the field trip wasn't the best but I was trying to make the point that teachers are accountable to the parents of the children every minute of the school day. And that day can be harrowing.

To answer your question directly, principals have long been able to base their evaluations of teachers on the progress of children. By law, any principal can visit a classroom at any time, can sit with children, review their work, look at their permanent records with test scores, and so forth. But the facts are that the vast majority of principals have just done cursory evaluations based on short visits. Some rarely visit the teacher's classroom at all. The reasons for this are many and complex. For one thing, being a school principal has been likened to "being inside a clothes dryer." They simply don't have the time to properly evaluate each teacher. Secondly, for many years districts, especially urban districts, were desperate for teachers. Once a teacher was hired, the goal of the principal was to keep that person. That's probably the reason why over 90% of all teachers were rated "effective" and above. And don't forget that 50% quit in the first five years. I understand that percentage is even higher in urban schools. So if there is a problem with "accountability" we can safely say that it's complex and it's social and economic. By law, teachers cannot refuse to be accountable. They might not like it, but they can't say "You will not evaluate me."

dccounselor and Frankb:

"DC teachers don't have the fundamental skills required to teach."

If this is true, you have the wrong culprit. Teachers and their unions do not hire, evaluate, or fire. Administrators do. You need to find out why people without basic skills were hired to teach in DCPS. Who was responsible for this? Those are the people you need to confront.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 12, 2011 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Who was responsible for this? A very good question.

For more than 30 years, conventional wisdom held that race and poverty (and poor parenting) explained DC's public schools deplorable level of student achievement. Everyone, for the most part, believed nothing could be done about it.

Consequently, the community didn't expect much of anything from teachers (or administrators) and over time they didn't expect much from themselves. A DCPS job (even as a teacher) became really no different than any other city job.

And every year the schools got worse and worse.

But then research, and reporting, started getting in the way of that loathsome story line (about race and poverty). And the community began demanding more of its schools and teachers.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 12, 2011 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the community is taking action; none more so than the parents and teachers. Treat these educators well and you might get the results that you want.

Research (and common sense) have always told us that the EFFECTS of poverty and racial isolation and prejudice have affected the education of people, but of course race and poverty in themselves do not affect learning. Why would they?

I taught mostly poor and minority children for many years and I can assure you that their race and economic standing did not keep them from learning. Also, until the "reformers" came along I never heard anyone even suggest such a thing.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 12, 2011 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Linda/RetiredTeacher:

I bet you were an excellent teacher ..and you're a hero to me. Every DC student deserves a teacher like you.

Only by living in Marion Barry's DC could you understand how all this played out. It's been really awful for everyone involved; surreal and tragic. And all of us who live here share in the blame.

Great DCPS teachers are finally getting the respect they deserve, and being rewarded for being great.

But what do you do now with teachers who should have never been hired in the first place, don't have basic skills, and are a detriment to their students?

Posted by: frankb1 | February 12, 2011 10:35 PM | Report abuse

And how would you feel as a 3rd grade teacher, if the 2nd grade teacher didn't/couldn't do their job?

Posted by: frankb1 | February 12, 2011 10:47 PM | Report abuse

frankb:

Thank you, Frank. Yes, I was a mentor teacher for my district. In this capacity I saw that most of the teachers were competent, hardworking and dedicated. That's why I am such a passionate defender of them.

I DO know what you are talking about. "Everyone" is aware of Marion Barry and the political patronage that he practiced. Sadly the same can be said of many other cities. But I taught in such a system years ago and I know that many of these teachers were victims too. They graduated from accredited colleges and were certified by their states as licensed to teach. Some were given lifetime credentials. After that, these people were given "excellent" ratings year after year by their principals. Many of these individuals saw themselves as excellent teachers and were beloved by children and parents. But by the standards of others, these teachers were not qualified to teach.

Suddenly there is a recession and people realize that they can fire old Miss Jones and hire young Miss Smith from Yale at half the salary. What to do?

First and foremost I want to say that these teachers are human beings with rights. Yes, the children have a right to an education but the teachers have rights also. What are you going to do with Miss Jones, who has suddenly become "ineffective" after being "Outstanding" for thirty years? With support from the mayor and the philanthropists, this is what Michelle Rhee could have done:

Assigned mentors to teach alongside the "bad" teachers;

Dismissed nontenured teachers by following due process procedures;

Offered "golden handshakes" to people with twenty or more years of service;

Reassigned teachers. A "bad" sixth grade teacher might make an excellent kindergarten teacher (or vice versa);

Placed relatively inexperienced but tenured teachers on the ninety-day plan, while offering them a bona fide opportunity to improve;

Asked the best teachers in the district to team with weaker teachers (For example, the outstanding teacher could instruct a large class of 75 with the weaker teachers assisting. They could then break up into smaller groups for practice);

Filled vacancies with people who are experienced with track records of success in urban schools.

Above all, follow due process laws. Nothing less should be acceptable to any of us.


Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 12, 2011 11:46 PM | Report abuse

As a third grade teacher, I would have resented the second grade teacher who didn't do her job. But as a teacher, there wasn't much I could do about it. Teachers do not hire, evaluate or fire. Only administrators do.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 12, 2011 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Linda/RetiredTeacher: Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

Many good ideas. I believe they have notified all of these ineffective DCPS teachers, and have offered them resources of the type you suggest. But the opportunity to improve is not (and should not be) open-ended, and that's where the biggest conflict lies. We probably will need a large "buy-out/golden handshake" to resolve this matter.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 13, 2011 12:24 AM | Report abuse

You could petition you local union leadership, and encourage them (through the collective bargaining agreement) to assist in easing problem teacher out.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 13, 2011 12:31 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure you're aware that the Los Angeles school district has spent $500,000 per teacher ($3.5 million total) trying to fire just seven of the districts 33,000 teachers for poor classroom performance. That's just crazy.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 13, 2011 12:50 AM | Report abuse

In DCPS there are twenty-eight steps required to flush out a low-performing teacher, submit improper paperwork on any of the twenty-eight steps and everything gets tossed. That's crazy too!

Posted by: frankb1 | February 13, 2011 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Frank b1
Your a clown that needs togoback and check you numbers on TFA teachers . First off Rhee tried to convert DCPS in to a base teaching cult with her own groups New Leaders & TFA and when Fenty lose it all back fired on her Arne Duncan the Gates Foundation & Walton foundation all these people with millions of Dollarstrying to privatize Education for profit off of the Poor BLACK STUDENTS in URBAN CITIES and DC was Supposevto be the Headquarters but again when Mayor Gray won the plan had to be revised so that's when Rhee came up with Students First . Well now that all her lies are catching up with her she has been Exposed she's a FRUD FRUD FRUD. Doing a dis service to kids not just any kid but Poor Black Children is don't doing any thing good it's bring there self esteem even lower than it is already so it is time to REFORM THE RHEE/FORM STOP TRYING TO PRIVATIZE EDUCATION USING OUR AFRICAN AMERICAN CHILDREN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Posted by: Darksecrettt | February 13, 2011 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Linda R/T wrote: "Instead she hired inexperienced people right out of college."

Linda, you're in California and don't have a clue about what goes on in DCPS. My kids were in DCPS schools for almost 10 years. Some of the very best teachers they had were "right out of college."

Without exception, the worst teachers they had were veterans. That is not to say that all veterans are ineffective. They had some excellent long-time teachers as well. But my experience, and that of many, many parents in DCPS, is that the worst teachers by far have 20+ years of experience. Many of them were hired during the Barry administration, when DCPS was used as a patronage system by Barry.

Linda, you really don't know what goes on here, any more than I know what goes on in California.

Posted by: trace1 | February 13, 2011 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Linda R/T writes: "always follow due process laws." Linda, before Michelle Rhee took over, the system was designed to make it nearly impossible for principals to terminate an ineffective teacher. Please educate yourself about the system that was in place before you respond any further. And no, do not use your "California" experience to extrapolate here. The evaluation/termination system was a joke because there was no one on the other side of the bargaining table for years and years, as there generally is in other jurisdictions. The union essentially dictated the terms of the CBA, and it did not result in "due process," it resulted in iron-clad job protection for the lowest performers and a system that has failed our children for decades.

Posted by: trace1 | February 13, 2011 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Every teacher in every DCPS school knows a teacher that has no business being a teacher. No one is saying that dedicated, effective teachers do not exist. What's being said is that there are still many ineffective teachers.

Yes, teachers, just like any other profession, should be given an opportunity to improve, but there are some (and I know this firsthand) don't want to improve. They want IMPACT eradicated, poverty eradicted, and other "planets aligned" before they feel they can be effective.


Posted by: rickyroge | February 13, 2011 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Linda R/T wrote: "You need to find out why people without basic skills were hired to teach in DCPS. Who was responsible for this? Those are the people you need to confront."

Should we march en masse on Marion Barry's house? And what good would that do for our children who remain in the classrooms of incompetent teachers, Linda?

Posted by: trace1 | February 13, 2011 8:22 AM | Report abuse

RickyRoge: interesting comments, not totally true, but interesting. There is not one teacher in my building that is ineffective to my knowledge. Our school gets solid results each year. We have lots of parental support. But we have meddlesome central office types that want to lump us in with the underperforming schools and treat us like we are a Title 1 school. This happens in many schools. Central office dictates gum up what teachers are trying to do and then they get blamed when things do go according to plan. Its a bad joke being played on many teachers. The management chokes their initiative and drive and then blames them for poor results. This is a general statement, but its one of the factors bringing this district down.

Posted by: thetensionmakesitwork | February 13, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

@LRT

I was quoting frankb1, not agreeing with him.

OMG, did I read the "Marion Barry Day" crap again. A true Fenty supporter back from the past.

I have been told that DCPS mentor teachers supervisor is Rhee's former classroom aide when she worked her "miracle in Bmore. GO figure.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | February 13, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

A FRAUD?

Tell that to the parents, children, and staff at Sousa Middle School, where the number of students scoring proficient in reading jumped from 15 percent to 41 percent in reading, and from 14 percent to 46 percent in math.

Almost every teacher in Sousa was incompetent/ineffective, so Rhee/Jordon fired them all.

Great NEW teachers were brought in and the results are impressive. A few of those teachers were TFA, but most were not. DC's poor black kids can learn, they just need more teachers that believe them, and have basic competency in subjects they teach.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 13, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

It's good to hear that the bully tactics of Rhee/Henderson, Fenty go no where with Nathan. Our interim chancellor should dust off her resume.

Posted by: wtf1 | February 13, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Frank,

Things are a LOT more complex than they appear. Here's a true story about a neighbor of mine:

About twenty years ago I heard screaming and crying coming from a neighbor's house. Both the husband and the wife were teachers; the husband in Los Angeles Unified and the wife in a suburban school. I rushed over to the house to see what the matter was and the wife sobbed, "The police just came to tell us that a girl in John's class has accused him of impregnating her." John explained that the police officer tried to calm them with these words, "Don't worry. We get these complaints all the time and most are not true."

In the meantime John was placed in the "rubber room" while his case was investigated. Sure enough, it was found that John was "off track" during the time the girl conceived. She admitted that the father of her unborn child was her boyfriend but when her mother angrily demanded the name of the father, the girl blurted out the teacher's name. She apologized for doing so.

Soon John was back on the job but I'm certain it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to clear him. Was he supposed to quietly resign?

In my own district, the only educators (teachers and administrators) who fought dismissals were those accused of crimes (specifically abuse, theft, embezzlement). Ineffective teachers were usually pushed out. They were given very different grade levels (e.g. kindergarten to seventh grade) or told that they were marked ineffective on formal evaluations. In my last year of teaching two teachers resigned after these tactics were used against them. I am not saying that this is "right" but it's what I observed.

This morning I read that "a lie travels around the world while the truth is still getting its boots on." This is what is happening to teachers right now, probably as a result of the recession. Please help educators by becoming informed.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 13, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Trace:

I never said that young teachers are ineffective. Of course, many are excellent. Why wouldn't they be?

What I said is that Rhee hired inexperienced people right out of college when she had the opportunity to hire highly qualified, experienced teachers with track records of success. The best way to build an excellent teaching corps is to hire carefully. Rhee could have hired the very best teachers available; people who would have stayed in DC, but she didn't. Why not?

I have been pretending that I don't know what you're about but of course I do know. You want your children to have (only) white teachers. Well, it's not going to happen. This is still the USA.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 13, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Linda R/T: when you don't have the facts on your side, call your opponent a racist.

Whatever race you are, I'm truly glad you didn't teach my kids if that's your approach.

Some of those terrific young teachers that I spoke about? They were not white, Linda. You don't send your kids to DCPS if you want only "white teachers." Why don't you take your racist claptrap elsewhere? Stick to a factual debate here.

Posted by: trace1 | February 13, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

@ DarkSecrett: You sound like the unintelligent, inarticulate, illiterates you defend. Honestly, are you drunk when you write your posts?

Michelle Rhee was close to turning the district over into a successful school system. Sadly, the politics of old DC reared its ugly head just in time to put an end to it.

Here's to Michelle Rhee and students first...let's just hope she's able to shift the politicians in time to make lasting change!

Posted by: teacher6402 | February 13, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Trace:

You said, "When you don't have the facts on your side, call your opponent a racist."

Now read the rest of your post. You might want to think carefully before you write. People can make inferences.

I know that I am an advocate for teachers. Most are hardworking, dedicated and competent and they need to be treated fairly. According to the facts reported by the Washington Post many of the DC teachers were unfairly dismissed and evaluated. The arbitrator agreed with this point of view. Treating teachers unfairly is the worst possible thing for students because who will want to teach in DC if this continues? Will the "best and the brightest" want to work there?

Only you know what is in your heart, but remember your words tell more than you might intend.

You want the best education for your children. Well, that is something I can agree with completely. So why don't we both advocate for fair treatment of the present teachers in addition to careful hiring of new recruits. Can you agree to that?

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 13, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Can someone please do some research on how many teachers were terminated for ineffectiveness in the 5 years prior to Chancellor Rhee coming ot DCPS.

I think it was 2....

Posted by: rickyroge | February 13, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

As we reflect on the revolution in Egypt and prepare to celebrate Presidents' Day, let's offer thanks for the privilege of living in a country where even "the unintelligent, inarticulate illiterates" have the right to due process. Like other autocrats, Michelle Rhee tried to impose her will by firing a lot of teachers without bothering with the law. Fortunately the people of the District of Columbia exercised their right to vote.

God bless America!

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 13, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Turque's blog entry was about squabbling; and most of the comments mirrored the example.

Linda Retired/Teacher: Please turn your attention and experience to getting more out of less, identifying from experience what will have to be sacrificed during austerity. Nothing that costs more will be arriving anytime soon. So, suggest what needs to go. My nomination? Test prep. Sanction every teacher and principal who devotes more than 3 hours per year to simulations of or study of materials directly related to the Spring standardized test.
There: We'll have recovered an easy 10% or more of the instructional and educational year.
No more impossible than stopping interscholastic sports coaches from holding excessive practices.

Posted by: incredulous | February 14, 2011 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Linda/Retired, thank you for persisting here and all your other posts.
Your decades of experience in the classroom and well-focused descriptions of reality in the schools are what the media should be spreading but don't.

Posted by: 1bnthrdntht | February 14, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, 1bnthdntht.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | February 14, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Only at DCPS could a panel on labor management collaboration be turned in to yet another conflict. Stop fighting and start building.

Posted by: 4kids | February 15, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

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