Education

“Lost” in D.C.

By Stephen Sawchuk — May 01, 2009 1 min read

Wow! There’s no reason to watch “Lost” when you’ve got the D.C. contract situation, which is quickly becoming as byzantine and bizarre as the popular TV program.

DCPS officials have detailed Washington Teachers’ Union Vice President Saunders back to his school over some kind of paperwork snafus with the leave of absence union officials take when they work full time for the union. The rumors are flying fast and furious about who’s to blame, with Saunders and others claiming that WTU President George Parker and D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee are both behind the transfer.

Though you wouldn’t know it from most of the mainstream media coverage, the debate about this contract isn’t really about the union vs. the management, but about a divide within the WTU. Saunders has basically accused Parker of being willing to give away the farm in the contract negotiations. Where Parker was at least initially receptive to the pay plan proposed by Rhee, Saunders has accused Rhee of trying to “gentrify” the schools.

The two men differ on other issues, too: Parker has acknowledged that administrative D.C. rulings have greatly reduced the importance of seniority. Saunders disagrees.

One can only imagine how irritating this must be to AFT leader Randi Weingarten, who’s apparently been looped into a lot of this. Both she and Rhee say they’re trying to establish a premier education system in D.C.

What’s next? A polar bear?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.