Thursday, October 02, 2008

DC School System will fire ineffective teachers even when tenured, despite teacher's union

WJLA-TV (ABC affiliated station) in Washington DC is now reporting that District of Columbia school system chancellor Michelle Rhee and Mayor Adrian Fenty are simply bypassing teachers’ unions and announcing a plan to remove ineffective teachers, even those with tenure, sometimes. The WJLA story (“Fenty, Rhee to Move Ahead with Aggressive Plan”) is here. The link has a video of Rhee’s speaking and making the announcement. She also denied earlier stories that a large portion of classes in DC are being taught by long-term substitute teachers, after earlier firings of teachers without enough licensure.

It’s surprising that the school system could go over a union this way. Can someone explain this?

The Washington Post has a similar story today at noon by Bill Turque, “DC Schools Chief Shores Up Power to Fire Teachers,” link here. This is her “Plan B.”

Seniority could be considered, but only as one factor, in comparison to others, especially student performance on tests. There would be probationary warning periods for ineffective teachers facing dismissal. Earlier, Rhee has proposed “voluntary” two-tiered plans allowing teachers not depending on tenure to earn more based on student performance. Rhee said that the needs of “the children” are her first priority.

The irony is that earlier today, on p A01 in print, The Washington Post had a story “Needy Students Closing Test Gap Under No Child” (Left Behind), about District of Columbia schools, by Maria Glod and Daniel de Vise, link here. NCLB has indeed forced much teaching time to be spent on drilling the basics. At the same time, in high school teachers and administrators are insufficiently aware of big time issues that can affect students, such as all the issues over home Internet safety and online reputation.

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