"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Michelle Rhee Seeks Permanent Supply of Temp Teachers

Michelle Rhee wants to make teaching in DC more attractive by destroying the teachers' union. If she can buy up the contracts of those teachers who think this might not be such a great idea, then she and Fenty can sail with their plan to return workers' rights in the Nation's capital to the 19th Century, as they drag the schools in the same direction--back to the good times when privileged white women gave up so much to do the teaching in the Negro schools, and when memorization, recitation, and toeing the line were the orders of the day. From WaPo:

By V. Dion Haynes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 21, 2008; B02

The Washington Teachers' Union is discussing a proposed three-year contract from the school system that would eliminate seniority, giving Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee more control in filling vacancies, a union member familiar with the talks said yesterday.

Without seniority, Rhee could place teachers based on qualifications or performance rather than years of service, said the union member, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are confidential. The union member said Rhee sought the provision as a recruiting tool so she could offer talented candidates the position of their choice. She would be able to fill positions with less experienced teachers.

Under the proposed contract, teachers would give up seniority in exchange for annual raises of about 6 percent, more personal-leave days and more money for supplies, the union member said. In the last contract, which expired in the fall, teachers received a 10 percent raise over two years.

Rhee "does want to infuse some new blood [into the schools]. She wants to make it attractive for young people coming in to advance," said the union member, adding that the union's negotiating team will meet with her tomorrow or Friday. "We've come to realize we're going to have to give in to her."

The union member said Rhee had also wanted to eliminate tenure, subjecting teachers to dismissal without cause. In March, Rhee fired 98 central office employees after the D.C. Council gave her the authority to make several hundred of them "at-will" staff members. . . .


  1. I readily admit that I do not know more about this Michelle Rhee and what her agenda is, but on the face of it I am not sure that this is a bad idea. Sure, this situation can be abused, but so can the current situation.

    Additionally, why should years of service be the primary (if not only) judge of ability? I have, as both a public and private school teacher, seen far too many teachers with many years of experience who are doing nothing more than what they have been doing for the last 10, 20, or 30 years with no reflection on whether it is the best thing for students.

    I don't believe that she should have the power to dismiss without cause, but I do think that talent and proven ability should count for more than they currently do.

    Just my two cents.

  2. Anonymous9:04 PM

    Sending in temporary teachers does nothing to alleviate the real problems within inner city schools-horrendous mismanagement of funds, district policies that perpetrate low expectations for student performance and behavior, and incredible corruption. Rather than address such problems, politicians and private interests blame teachers.
    Many wonderful teachers leave struggling school districts-not because they don't have talent and ability, but because they realize that the system is so incredibly corrupted and rarely has the best interests of children in mind.
    Those who would deflect public interest away from the real issues have taken a very strong interest in Teach For America, because teachers who teach for two short years demand very low salaries and no pension.
    Think of all of the money that is freed for further deal making and mismanagement. It's a win-win for chancellors like Joel Klein who trade million dollar educational contracts with his buddies as if they were candy.
    In the mean time, the children suffer even further.
    TFA members are sent into the schools whose children need the greatest experience. Most of us who teach in inner city schools can tell you that the first two years are a learning curve.
    It is unfortunate that inner city children will now be used as a training ground.