Education

You Lie?

By Elizabeth Rich — September 24, 2009 2 min read

Last week, in the nation’s capital, 38-year-old Chancellor Michelle Rhee announced that there would be a reduction in force of the city’s 3,800 teachers due to “unanticipated” cuts to the budget by the City Council, according to The Washington Post. A controversial figure locally since her appointment in the spring of 2007 by Mayor Adrian Fenty to head up Washington, D.C.'s troubled school system, Rhee has became something of a media darling outside the Beltway—appearing on the cover of Time magazine in the now-famous picture of her in a classroom, holding a broom; in the pages of The Atlantic Monthly, Newsweek, Harper’s, The New York Times; and on the public radio and air waves.

In the wake of the RIF announcement, many—including George Parker, head of the Washington Teachers Union—have questioned why Rhee hired 900 new teachers over the summer and how she could have been blindsided by budget cuts, given the financial stress the city was under.

This week, the Huffington Post ran a blog item, written by a D.C. charter school teacher, which pointed to the possibility that hiring a lot of new teachers over the summer and then blaming the City Council for money problems might just be a ploy by Rhee to fire the ones she’d like to get rid of. The blog item included excerpts from a press release from the City Council chairman’s office that blasted Rhee and Fenty as liars. The release states that "[The chairman] is alarmed the Administration informed principals to plan for drastic reductions in their budgets—effectively exploiting the city’s fiscal situation to implement its desired reductions in the teacher workforce.”

A recent editorial in The Washington Post suggests that even if Rhee is hiding behind the budget in order to fire teachers she has long struggled with the union to get rid of, she’s still entitled “to take action against teachers whose hold on their jobs has little to do with their value to their students.” But in a city whose teachers are starting year three without a contract, the paper makes a plea for the union to focus on reaching a contract agreement with the chancellor rather than picketing her office, as planned next week, over the RIFs.

Where does this leave teachers? Likely biting their nails until September 30th when pink slips are to be issued.

Update, September 25 Education Week blog District Dossier has the inside scoop on today’s The Washington Post magazine story about Michelle Rhee.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Recruiting and Retaining a More Diverse Teaching Workforce
We discuss the importance of workforce diversity and learn strategies to recruit and retain teachers from diverse backgrounds.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Principal
Meredith, New Hampshire
Inter-Lakes School District
Elementary Principal
Washington State
Wenatchee School District
Principal
Meredith, New Hampshire
Inter-Lakes School District
Elementary Principal
Washington State
Wenatchee School District

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: February 3, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read