Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Rhee’s Reforms

It was announced earlier this summer that 241 teachers were fired as a result of the DC Public School’s new IMPACT evaluation system. There was some confusion over how many of those teachers let go were actually deemed “ineffective”; the Washington Post’s Bill Turque has the breakdown:

In addition to the 75 teachers with “ineffective” scores, there are an additional 51.5 (there’s a part timer, I assume) “minimally effective” educators who were excessed — forced out by enrollment or program changes at their schools — and could not find other spots by Aug. 13.

So, at the end of the day, IMPACT led to 126.5 teacher firings.

So that’s a little more than half the number first thrown out by DC’s chancellor, Michelle Rhee. Of course, the Washington Teachers’ Union isn’t going to take this lying down – how dare someone suggest that teachers be held accountable for their performance! Hence the threatened lawsuits and appeals to the grievance process by WTU head George Parker.

Elsewhere in the Post, AEI’s Rick Hess was quoted as saying “Michelle could have been less divisive, but that would have required dialing back her efforts and her timetable.” According to Hess, “Too many superintendents move so slowly that, at the end of a six- or eight-year tenure, they accomplished only a fraction of what Michelle has thus far done.”

And there’s some question as to what will happen if Rhee leaves Washington in the event of an Adrian Fenty loss in next week’s mayoral election:

One vision of life after Rhee in D.C. schools holds that a switch in leadership would imperil progress. Gray has said he wants a chancellor who will continue to improve schools while closing rifts between the District and its teachers. But Rhee supporters question how much tension or pushback he would tolerate to continue the reform movement.

These supporters also say her departure would undermine a nascent but discernible growth in parent confidence in the school system, especially among young families. Enrollment has stabilized after decades of decline. Any new chancellor would need at least two full school years to assemble a team and produce real evidence of effectiveness. That would bring the city to the cusp of another mayoral election cycle.

Regardless of who the chancellor is this time next year, let’s hope that their focus remains squarely on improving the District’s public schools and pursuing reform.

Categories: Center for Union FactsTeachers Unions