Need summer beach reading? Try the newly released 400-page plan from D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee that details how she plans on digging 26 failing District of Columbia schools out of the hole. It follows on the heels of closing 23 under-enrolled schools, no small feat even for Rhee, who the Washington Post finally acknowledged last week was a great pick. Staffing change announcements have been set in motion for 24 principals, including 13 from failing schools who are not getting their contracts renewed. In April, teachers at both the restructured and closing schools as well as teachers nearing retirement age were offered hefty buyouts ranging from $1,000 to $20,000.
Reactions to the buyout and other reform plans reveal a rift within the Washington Teachers Union. President George Parker is a supporter of Rhee and believes the union needs to compromise, while the union's general vice president, Nathan Saunders, makes no bones about his disdain for Parker's willingness to play ball, stating "he has got to be stopped; he's giving away the store." Apparently, there is so much infighting at union offices that the national AFT has sent in someone to "supervise day-to-day activities"--code words for keeping the pressure on Parker who by all indications refuses to toe the party line.
We can't wait for the soon-to-be-released next volume in this drama, the 2008-2011 DCPS Teacher Contract. The details are currently under negotiation and everything is very hush-hush, but rumors have it that seniority, tenure, and compensation structures could all be up for grabs. Parker acknowledges, "seniority definitely is one of the difficult issues at the table." Rhee promises it could "revolutionize education as we know it."