Four hundred or so new D.C. teachers are starting the school year amid a climate of controversy, the Washington Post reports. Tensions between Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and the President of the D.C. teachers’ union George Parker continue to run high following teacher firings in the middle of the last school year, lengthy contract disputes, and the firing of 241 additional teachers last month—some of which was in evidence at the new teacher orientation.
The Washington Teachers’ Union is accusing Rhee of misrepresenting the number of teachers fired recently for poor performance ratings in order to “burnish her image as a take-no-prisoners schools leader.” The Post reports that, in reality, under the city’s new and somewhat controversial evaluation system, IMPACT, 76 teachers were fired for being “ineffective” and 165 were “excessed"—found to be “minimally effective,” they will have to reapply to work in the school system, if they can find a principal who will hire them.
While WTU President George Parker has charged Rhee with “playing loose with the facts,” the Chancellor and her office defend their position. “Had we not released the entire number, critics would have said we were seeking to downplay the number of teaches we were removing...We came down on the the side of greater transparency,” said Rhee’s spokeswoman Jennfier Calloway.
Whether or not Rhee was right to fire these teachers or tweak the numbers, as Parker suggests, she seems to be holding tight to her tough reputation. The question remains, does it come at the expense of the students or the teachers, or is it for the greater good?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.