Rhee Sends Layoff Notices to 250 Teachers

By Stephen Sawchuk — June 22, 2009 1 min read
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The Washington community is abuzz about the chancellor’s latest move, which is to pare another 250 teachers from the city’s teaching force.

It’s already engendered quite a bit of drama. Apparently, some forces within the Washington Teachers Union are seeking pro bono assistance to avert the layoffs.

But one interesting thing here, it seems to me, is that these layoffs are not aimed just at veteran teachers. One of the rumors flying around last year during the contract drama accused Rhee of firing veterans to replace them with novices hired through routes like Teach For America and the New Teacher Project. As it turns out, some of those who lost their jobs were novices from alternative routes, in addition to tenured veterans who were put on 90-day improvement plans (and presumably didn’t improve.)

The Washington Post says that some of the terminated were those who couldn’t earn teaching licenses. So far, I can’t make out whether the probationary teachers who lost their jobs fall into this category or whether they, too, had unsatisfactory performance ratings. And I’m not at all sure why the district would lose teachers on alternative routes. Don’t they generally get a grace period before they have to meet regular licensing/certification requirements? That’s how it’s supposed to work under No Child Left Behind, anyway.

(Perhaps someone from the district can write in and enlighten us?)

In any case, the fact that this is affecting teachers across the spectrum indicates that, like the ongoing contract negotiations, there seems to be a lot going on under the surface that makes this hard to sum up in anecdotes. Whether Rhee’s goals will become clearer or lead to yet more mud-flinging between the administration and the teachers’ union remains to be seen.

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