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Posted at 2:36 PM ET, 02/14/2011

Rhee didn't play by the rules

By Randi Weingarten and Nathan A. Saunders, Washington

The Feb. 11 editorial “What does it take to fire a teacher?” was quick to question why arbitrator Charles Feigenbaum would reinstate 75 “bad teachers.” It sadly and predictably missed the most important point of the ruling. Mr. Feigenbaum made clear that former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee never told fired teachers why they were dismissed. She ran a secret black box program when it came to firing the teachers, saying, “Trust me, I know best.” She found it acceptable to dismiss 75 teachers without providing notice, reason, opportunity to demonstrate remediation or opportunity to be heard.

This is yet another glaring example of why her “my way or the highway” management style was not good for students or teachers. The consequences of this style continue to create great injustice within our system — for our community’s children and for those who work to make a difference every day in our children’s lives.

Ms. Rhee often believed she was above the rules. Thankfully, an arbitrator reminded her — and all of us — that no matter who we are, we must play by the rules.

The writers are, respectively, president of the American Federation of Teachers and president of the Washington Teachers’ Union.

By Randi Weingarten and Nathan A. Saunders, Washington  | February 14, 2011; 2:36 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, education, schools  
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I live in an "employment at will" state. The employer is not obligated to give reason for termination.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | February 14, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

"Underperforming" (that word is WAY too kind) teachers who habitually stiff their students and the Union maggots who swarm to their defense like pimps are not playing by the rules.

Posted by: realist2 | February 14, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't know the "reasons" for the termination but if they were so bad; underperforming; etc. it should have been easy to state so and put in writing.

If the arbitrator reinstated 75 it seems as if something wasn't done properly (appropriate documentation) or the reason/s given to the public were not valid.

Posted by: rlj611 | February 14, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Firing a teacher deserves just as much consideration as a criminal. They get to walk because of technicalities. Why shouldn't bad teachers get their jobs back because of a technicality?

Posted by: staterighter | February 14, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Firing a teacher deserves just as much consideration as a criminal. They get to walk because of technicalities. Why shouldn't bad teachers get their jobs back because of a technicality?

Posted by: staterighter | February 14, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to Mr. Saunders and Ms. Weingarten!

Posted by: educationlover54 | February 14, 2011 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Doing the right thing the wrong way doesn't accomplish much.

Of course, Rhee was obviously attempting to find slots to hire in people that her Teach For America cronies preferred.

Posted by: blasmaic | February 14, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

If these teachers are who Michelle Rhee describes to be as rapists and abusers then it shouldn't take a mass RIF to get rid of these teachers. I am willing bet the incidents were reported and each report was emailed and forwarded from one DCPS middle manager to the the next until poof, the problem 'disappeared'. A person who lays their hands on a child can be gone THAT DAY IT IS REPORTED.

The union protects teachers who are at the realm of incompetent principals. Michelle Rhee f'ed up majorly with one particular NE elementary school. The principal fired several teachers, including some from TFA and Teaching Fellows with no good reasons except that she was a raging racist. Rhee wouldn't fire the principal because of increased DC-CAS scores, scores that reflected the fact that a huge percentage of students were placed on the alternative assessment- a very teacher driven assessment. Any teacher who resisted placing students on the alt-assessment were given low IMPACT scores. Instead of being fired for cheating on tests, the principal was 'reprimanded to shape up'. What about the other teachers who lost their jobs because they refused to cheat?

Yeah, there are some weak teachers out there, and we need to weed them out. But there needs to be fair checks and balances, and unfortunately, there isn't.

Posted by: vnm202 | February 14, 2011 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Will 'eyes wide open' members of the general public
please become aware
of Michelle Rhee's burgeoning & awesome HYPOCRISY ?!!
Her hucksterism and apparent sloganeering is.....
"Students First", but, but ... HER DAUGHTERS LAST !

Look at her overall pattern of: SELF-CENTERED, SELF-SERVING
UTTER NEGLECT of her two young daughters !

Definitely research her bizarre history with faux-fiance
(documented serial molester of several
H.S. students & teenage Americorps staff) Kevin Johnson
and investigate Rhee's
direct involvement with Johnson's
Sacramento Charter School corrupt cover-ups
of sexcapades with minors & teens, financial malfeasance
& misuse of govt. funds.

It is obvious when examining Rhee's pattern
of irresponsible, warped
& selfish misconduct (including forcibly uprooting
family members),
that her ex-husband is now mainly the custodial parent
who is providing consistent care & nurturing concern
for the daily developmental well-being of their daughters
and he is the only mature & responsible adult
in that family !

($$$ profiteering & privatizing
private equity oligarchy-hedge fund hustlers FIRST..... )
Children, Community stakeholders, & especially the needs of
her own daughters
come LAST !


Posted by: honestaction | February 15, 2011 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Both Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty put forth an "I'm better than you" attitude. And both fell at the same time. Rah, rah, rah!

Posted by: mbrumble | February 15, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Rhee didn't provide any reasons for the firing, because there weren't any.
Rhee was a fraud.

Posted by: MarilynManson | February 15, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I hope that the DC school system will tell parents where these teachers are teaching!

Would you want your children to be taught by one of these teachers?

This is why the teachers were fired:

"Examiner Local Editorial: D.C.'s 'zombie teachers' don't stay fired

By: Examiner Editorial 02/15/11 8:05 PM
An independent arbitrator in Montgomery County has ordered the District of Columbia Public Schools to rehire 75 teachers who were fired in 2008 by former Chancellor Michelle Rhee for, among other things, being AWOL from school for weeks at a time, not preparing lesson plans, cursing at students, poor classroom management and high levels of student failure.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Posted by: confused1 | February 15, 2011 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Well, as far as Rhee goes--Once a Liar--.


Your girl Rhee was a liar and a fraud. But of course you support her because she fires teachers.

Some of the Rheeformers are worst than the ineffective teachers. the scream

Posted by: dccounselor72 | February 15, 2011 7:39 PM | Report abuse

The recent decision reinstating 75 ineffective DCPS teachers should be aggressively appealed, millions in public dollars and the quality of teachers in front of students is at stake.

With our schools in crisis and our budget shortfall growing each day, perhaps it is time to follow the lead of states like Wisconsin and put limits on teacher collective bargaining, and exclude unions from deliberations over the design of education policies.

Posted by: frankb1 | February 16, 2011 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Rhee had two rules. Teachers were required to work hard and students were required to behave and learn. Those rules don't sit well with DC residents.

Posted by: priveye | February 16, 2011 5:11 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Weingarten, the rules that you mention are poorly thought out and need to be changed.

Posted by: kbates1 | February 20, 2011 6:12 PM | Report abuse

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