Monday, April 19, 2010

Reports on Rhee in DC

Commentary at Ed Notes:

From Gotham links on Friday:

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.

The WTU tentative agreement was signed by Chancellor Rhee and WTU President George Parker on March 19, 2010, the very same day that George Parker withdrew the legal appeal previously filed by the WTU on behalf of RIF'd teachers.

Adding even more insult is the fact George Parker didn't seek the required approval from the WTU Executive Board to withdraw this legal appeal, until six days later on March 25th. These coinciding dates appear all too convenient.

Don't you think this is worth further inquiry by your newspaper, station, blog or organization ?

Candi Peterson
WTU Board of Trustees

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

For Immediate Release Contact: Nathan A. Saunders
Phone: 202.213.7081
Distribution to all DC Public School Teachers E-mail:
Media Contacts and other significant stakeholders
April 14, 2010
Statement by Nathan A. Saunders
Wrongfully Terminated Teachers Should Seek Restitution and Damages
Washington, D.C. - On Tuesday, April 13, 2010 DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee disclosed her lie against 266 wrongfully terminate teachers which she has secreted for months. WTU President George Parker was present and silent. Our responsibility as honest brokers, fellow teachers and union members is to make sure those wrongfully terminated teachers and their families receive what we all would want- a new non AFT and non WTU affiliated attorney for restitution of all rights and privileges with damages. We now know that our fellow teachers’ hardship and blood money is the base funding for the Rhee and Parker tentative agreement (TA) - a scheme for national glory not local progress.
One week prior to their televised tentative agreement press conference under AFT’s watchful eyes, Parker orchestrated the withdrawal of WTU’s DC Court of Appeals challenge to Rhee regarding the 266 wrongfully terminated teachers. Parker and Rhee’s collusive behavior is not coincidental, but intentional. From inception, Parker’s filing of the wrongfully terminated teachers lawsuit was late, incomplete and did not protect all of the teachers’ rights. He did not use critical information gleamed from exhaustive DC City Council hearings and curiously did not require Chancellor Michelle Rhee under oath. Teacher court spectators were humiliated. Rhee has a free hand to abuse because of Parker’s weak representation, slovenly behavior and reactionary leadership. He cannot represent teachers in any manner because he is not trustworthy and Rhee can depend on it. Two years ago, I, as a WTU fiduciary agent, took public action by charging senior AFT officials, Parker and Rhee with collusion. It centered on Parker helping Rhee to discipline (terminate) certain teachers, clandestine agreements and abusing DCPS personnel records. Fighting for teacher job security and rights has been difficult when opponents use high priced press agents, billionaires, and anti-union foundations with more access to AFT than to dues paying members. As the millions at stake have increased, old union tactics of threats, salary reductions, and violence are becoming more commonplace in WTU.
Today, Parker attempts to backtrack with a public statement announcing his outrage with Rhee’s revelations. She could not have done it without his support. As the General Vice President, I am calling on all teachers to boycott future Tentative Agreement presentations. If a ballot for ratification ever arrives- VOTE NO. AFT’s undisclosed conflict of interest to WTU members exists by receiving funding from the same or similarly situated foundations desirous of funding WTU’s teacher raises (AFT’s Innovation Fund).
This TA is not educationally or fiscally sound, and yields future economic opportunities for the individuals and organizations other than DCPS teachers and children. Neither George Parker nor Michelle Rhee is worth jeopardizing any teacher’s economic security or students’ success. Teachers should focus on IMPACT teacher evaluations- Rhee’s new terminating tool- whereby hundreds will lose their jobs quickly. Any attempt by Parker to blame Rhee solely for this debacle without acknowledging his culpability is another repeat offense against DCPS teachers and students.

This is a copy of Randi's response letter to my open letter to her. When I didn't post it right away, the AFT posted a comment on my blog stating that it was available on the Washington Teachers Union's blog. This is amazing to me. While I will eventually post it I have some other more pressing news to report right now. Check it out as sent to me from her public affairs division (attached). At least we know how to get an answer from Randi. Candi

Hi, Candi,
Randi Weingarten wanted to thank you for reaching out to her on Monday, and wants to make sure you receive this response to your open letter. We're hoping you'll post this on your blog, as well.
Thanks, we'll talk soon.
George Jackson, Sr. Associate
Public Affairs
P: 202/393-4275
M: 202/494-8178
F: 202/879-4556
American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
555 New Jersey Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
for reaching out

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