Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Rhee, the Monster of DC: Soon to Follow, the UFT

"We've come to realize we're going to have to give in to her." - anon. union member is D.C.

Washington D.C. schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who spends a hell of a lot of time racing around from ed conference to ed conference pushing the national regressive "teachers and their contracts are the problem," seems about to claim a major union scalp that goes beyond what her former boss Joel Klein has exacted in NYC.

The Washington Post reports (full story at Norms Notes) that a total end to seniority and tenure is afoot which will allow Rhee to fire anyone at will and place teachers in whatever school she wants. This is the nirvana the ed reformers wanted all along. The next step for Rhee, a former Teach for America, will be to replace most of the teacher corps with 2 or 3 year wonders.

The acceptance of these provisions in exchange for a big raise should be familiar to UFT'ers in NYC who saw significant parts of the contract get sold off. We know some form of this will be coming soon to NYC. The D.C. union, being an AFT local (which had serious corruption issues a few years ago that severely weakened the union) should be of concern to upcoming AFT President Randi Weingarten who one would wish would loudly condemn such a provision but we know won't do so.

Weingarten, who mentioned Rhee and the national attacks going on (we have been hammering away with this theme for 7 years) at the May Delegate Assembly, will no doubt say the doesn't want to interfere with local contract negotiations. That the AFT local doesn't really exist in New Orleans should be a warning to her that her membership may be stripped away piece by piece.

But no worries. As an appeaser of the highest order, as pointed out by NYC Educator, she will make enough concessions to convince the powers that be that she is a player on their side. This is the so-called cooperative, rather than militant New Union movement, which Weingarten and ideologue Leo Casey have been pushing. "We want to cooperate in the reforms because we are professionals, not common workers. Contracts are passe anyway."

I'm at the point now where I am almost hoping Rhee gets whatever she wants. In 5 years or more when nothing has changed in terms of real educational gains (oh, they'll do the same phony stat manipulation they do here in NYC) they'll have to look for new scapegoats as a way to escape doing truly progressive reforms like lowering class size, improving the health of poor kids, etc. – things that cost money that must be reserved for wars and bailouts.

I know. Aliens have captured the minds of the children and we must invest in a defensive shields. A future quote from Rhee, Klein, Rotherham: "Before we can lower class size, we need a quality shield to protect children from alien mind control over every school."

An excerpt from the Post story:

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."

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