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D.C. teachers march and rally against D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee and their union president

On September 24, California was not the only place where there was a massive protest against the attacks on public schools. Check out the following story from the Washington Post about the protest in Washington, D.C. against Michelle Rhee, who is the appointed head of the Washington, D.C. school system. They also protested the fact that their union president is too friendly with Rhee, who is obviously trying to bust their union and fire veteran teachers.

Sound familiar?

D.C. Teachers Rally Against Rhee, Union Head

By Bill Turque, Washington Post Staff Writer, Thursday, September 24, 2009 7:41 PM

A small but vocal band of District teachers, angry about impending layoffs, rallied against Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and their own union president in front of the school system's central offices early Thursday evening.

"Our teachers are running scared right now, because they're not sure they'll have a job," said Malvery Smith, a second grade teacher at Turner Elementary School@Green in Southeast.

Smith, who has taught in the city for 14 years, was one of about 60 District educators in the plaza in front of school headquarters on North Capitol Street. They were joined by supporters and community activists.

Teachers protested Rhee's Sept. 16 announcement of a still-unspecified number of layoffs. It came more than three weeks into the school year and nearly seven weeks after the D.C. Council sliced $20.7 million from the 2010 DCPS budget. The cuts, which also hit other city agencies, were triggered by a continued decline in tax revenue.

Teachers who will lose their jobs are expected to be notified by Sept. 30.

Word of the layoffs followed a spring and summer when the school system filled 900 teaching vacancies. Rhee said she did not expect the council's cuts, which were approved July 31. She waited until mid-September, she said, so that the staff reductions could be done in tandem with the annual "equalization" process, which shifts teachers at under-enrolled schools to others in need of more educators.

But teachers scoffed at that explanation Thursday, contending that Rhee is seeking another way to oust veteran instructors. "That doesn't hold water," said Willie Brewer, an instrumental music teacher at Marshall Elementary in Northeast who has worked in District public schools for 26 years.

Jerome Brocks, a veteran special education teacher said there was only one reason Rhee is pursuing the cuts. "It's to get rid of veteran teachers of color," said Brocks, who is black.

Rhee has denied targeting teachers because of age or race.

Washington Teachers Union President George Parker did not attend the rally, which was organized in part by two of his most outspoken critics, union board of trustees member Candi Peterson and its general vice president, Nathan Saunders.

They have denounced Parker for weak leadership and aligning himself too closely with Rhee in contract talks that have lasted nearly two years. The District's 4,000 union members have been without a contract for three years.

"Our union leadership has led us to this point," said Tom O'Rourke, a social studies teacher at Roosevelt High School. "Management knows they can wait us out and pick us off one by one."

Parker said the union didn't endorse the rally because it was "hastily and loosely organized.

"It did very little to serve the interests of our members, although it may do a lot to serve the political interests of Candi Peterson and Nathan Saunders," he said.

Parker said the teachers union will hold a rally Oct. 8.

It has been a turbulent first few weeks of the new school year for D.C. teachers, who have been trying to adjust to a series of changes made by Rhee.

In addition to the impending layoffs, the District has unveiled a new, rigorous evaluation system that will include improvement in standardized test scores as part of the criteria for assessing some instructors. It is linked to a deeply detailed new set of teaching guidelines and strategies that cover everything from classroom presentation to checking for student understanding to instilling the belief that hard work leads to success.

School officials have also introduced a revised version of the student disciplinary code that is intended to de-emphasize suspensions and push teachers to work harder at keeping misbehaving students in the classroom.



Comments:

September 28, 2009 at 7:55 AM

By: Angry Teacher

Angry

We should be demonstrating. There are enough people that are upset with the CTU and the CPS that we can gather thousands to make the media and CPS listen and take our concerns seriously. CPS is still guarding secrets such as the number of teachers that lost their jobs, number of schools closed,the number of chilren affected, the number of Veteran teachers that were set up for failure and chose to retire rather than fight. All of the affected people need to start making themselves heard. We can't just wait until election time and vote people out. It may be too late to help our children recoup without years of struggle.

September 28, 2009 at 8:59 AM

By: Need to hear from displaced Fenger teachers

Daley, Duncan, Huberman killed that kid... criminal negligence, 'turnaround' mayhem

First the crime. Now the coverup.

Before anyone joins in the crocodile tears about the recent murder at Fenger High School in Chicago, why does't someone (Substance?) publish the true story of how Donald Fraynd and Ron Huberman's friends purged Fenger of its veteran teachers to promote Barack Obama's "Turnaround" friends.

How many teachers who knew the community and the kids were left at Fenger when school began again this school year?

Isn't it true that the kids at Fenger were having gang fights inside the school -- injuring teachers -- a week before the deadly brawl last Thursday?

Isn't it true that Fenger's principal and other staff told the gang bangers to "take it away from the school" next time they wanted to brawl?

Will Arne Duncan ever be held "accountable" for the destruction he's caused by school closings?

Will anyone in the media call Duncan out for the breathtaking hypocrisy of "turnaround" since he began by closing Austin and Calumet five years ago -- and continued by scapegoating high school teachers at Englewood, Collins, Harper, Orr and, finally, Fenger since then?

Or will we be seeing him from Copenhagen pushing the Olympics (and featuring AUSL's hack in prime time) with Richie Daley while more kids are murdered by the gangs that Duncan and Huberman unleashed through their purges of veteran teachers?

September 28, 2009 at 8:39 PM

By: Add Fraynd to this, too. He is guilty!

Fraynd is guilty

Fraynd — the turnaround guru appointed by Duncan and kept by Huberman (when Jones LSC chased himn out) got RID of great teachers and a principal at Fenger who cared about the students. Those teachers and that principal had a line with them to violence — before it happened. Shame on him.

September 29, 2009 at 12:32 AM

By: Just Curious

Data Driven Devil!

What will the "Data Driven Devil" have to say about the correlation between "turnaround schools", the firing of veteran teachers and the escalated epidemic of violence in the CPS schools?

What will he say about the firing of veteren teachers at Fenger?

Do these simple minded idiots realize the importance of caring, nuturing teachers who provide calm in some of the most unsafe communities on the planet!

I guess when a group of business-minded thugs have taken over the entire U.S. school system (that was handed to them on a silver platter by Mayor Daley and co-sponsored by Arne Duncan) and are using little children to make money off of them, what can you expect but mayhem! ?

Huberboy, children are not products or toys that you manufacture. They're not computerized trinkets with input and output buttons that you push to measure how much they have gained. They are human beings who need love, nurturing and protection from corporate users. (LIke you know who). They need teachers who they know and trust. The CEO wouldn't know anything about that becase he's going to deal with the children like they are cops or buses.

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