Monday, March 29, 2010

Nathan Saunders, WTU VP In The Mail Magazine

*This was published in March 28 'the mail' magazine by Gary Imhoff

DC Teachers’ Contract: Let Teachers Decide!
Nathan Saunders, General VP, Washington Teachers’ Union,

Washington Teachers’ Union President George Parker and DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee have been working in tandem for the past three years to vacate tenure, seniority, and the art of teaching. Minuscule test gains have been enlarged and enormous setbacks kept secret while enhanced test-taking skills (and cheating) are marketed to parents as student progress. Accepting foundation contributions for salary increases is Rhee’s business model; it necessitates at-will employment for teachers, yielding a demoralized and temporary workforce.

It is time for a vote, but teachers need a complete tentative agreement between Parker and Rhee, with a financial analysis and legal opinion. Parker has held four thousand teachers in the ninth month of pregnancy for three years with broken promises. Rhee’s benefactors have vilified anyone possessing an opposing point of view. For Parker and Rhee to succeed in securing a permanent agreement, the District’s Chief Financial Officer, Natwar Gandhi, must forget how to count and the DC city council must turn a blind eye to a $500 million deficit. Most importantly, teachers must dismiss the interests of hundreds of wrongly terminated peers and accept the high probability their family obligations, mortgages, and car payments will be unmet, because of their own impending terminations.

It’s time for teachers to speak with their vote. This protracted pregnancy has distracted attention from educating children. DCPS’ future lies in rich curriculum and instruction; not in settling for foundation crumbs, cheap election tricks, and public relations gimmicks.


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