From Gotham links on Friday:
- D.C.’s CFO and Michelle Rhee are sparring over whether the school system’s surplus exists.
- Randi Weingarten said she’s “really disgusted” by the D.C. situation, and the union is going back to court.
Here are some reports from Candi Peterson in DC. Follow events on her blog.
Today George Parker, WTU President and Randi Weingarten, AFT President announced their plans to reopen new filings for the RIF'd teachers lawsuit as reported by Loose Lips. What appears strange to me are the premediitated series of events below.
Please check out the video on this story about DC teacher firings on The Washington Teacher blog.
D.C. teacher firings prompted by bad math
By: Leah Fabel
Examiner Staff Writer
April 14, 2010
|Michelle Rhee (Examiner File Photo) (Examiner)|
Erroneous budget calculations brought on the firing of 266 D.C. Public Schools teachers in the fall, Chancellor Michelle Rhee told the D.C. Council Tuesday.
The news came as a surprise to council members as well as Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker, all of whom met with Rhee to discuss funding for the recently proposed teachers contract.
That contract -- yet to be approved -- has been hailed as a breakthrough in urban education reform because of its ability to differentiate salary by success in the classroom. It is now in jeopardy as teachers, council members and school officials are faced with the appearance of giving raises on the backs of fired teachers.
"If I were one of the fired teachers, I would be ready to put my hands around someone's throat and squeeze till there was no air left," said Council Chairman Vincent Gray, locked in a mayoral race with Rhee-backer Mayor Adrian Fenty. "At the end of the day, some people's pay raises [would be] funded with someone else's job."
Rhee contested Gray's remark after the meeting, again defending the firings at the very time she hoped to push forward with the new contract, three years in the making.
"The information we were provided [before the firings] was that we had $43 million in budget pressure. We took action based on the information we had at the time," Rhee said.
That information stood up in court, Rhee pointed out. Fired teachers who brought a lawsuit against D.C. Public Schools in the fall could not convince a judge that the layoffs were unfair or unnecessary.
Rhee said revised budget figures came to light in February -- after the firings -- showing that the district had about $34 million more than budgeted salary figures. The excess came not because of the firings, she said, but because the budget figures provided by the D.C. chief financial officer's office used $81,000 as an average teacher salary, when in fact it is closer to $73,000 with benefits.
Councilman Marion Barry called Rhee's revelation "the worst mess involving the city government that I've seen in my 31 years in city government."
Parker called the news a "bombshell." He requested that Rhee reinstate the fired teachers -- a call that school officials deemed unrealistic.
Rhee remained steadfast in moving forward with the contract, which awaits approval by teachers and the D.C. Council if it receives a green light from the city's budget office.
"We certainly need to lay out how this happened, but it shouldn't derail it at all," Rhee said