City Desk

Rhee: “Plan B” on Teachers Contract

DENVER—This afternoon, schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee said there's a "Plan B" in place should D.C. Public Schools teachers fail to ratify the controversial two-tier contract currently under negotiations. Rhee told the crowd that she expects to have negotiations on the reform contract concluded within two weeks and ready for a vote by the Washington Teachers' Union membership, LL has been told.

Her comments came during a panel discussion on education reform here in Denver with Michael Bennet, superintendent of Denver's public schools, and other public education reform leaders. On a separate panel, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty spoke about his takeover of DCPS with New York City schools chief Joel I. Klein, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, and others. The event was sponsored by a coalition of more than three dozen education reform and charter school organizations.

LL, unfortunately, did not arrive in town in time for Rhee and Fenty's appearances. But two members of the D.C. delegation—alternate national committeeman Jim Bubar and voting rights scholar William Washington—attended and report to LL that Rhee and Fenty received a warm response from a overflowing auditorium at the Denver Art Museum, with over 100 in attendance.

Rhee's comments mark the first time that she's publicly mentioned the possibility that a reform contract might not be approved. Perhaps, LL speculates, she was chastened by the "Welcome Back" event on Friday, where hundreds of teachers jeered the prospect of such a contract even coming to a vote.

Rhee and Fenty, Bubar says, were very much the "centerpiece" of the program.

Washington, who recently graduated from Wilson Senior High School and will be attending Catholic University in the fall, says that Rhee and Fenty focused on the steps necessary to begin fixing a troubled schools system—energy and accountability.

Asked to predict the winner in November, all the panelists predicted an Obama victory in front of the partisan crowd. (Though Rhee, in the past, has expressed her preference for the McCain education plan.)

UPDATE, 9:28 P.M.: Nakamura, who was actually there, has more.

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  • Ernest

    B or Z, Michelle’s plan should be quite simple: those unable or unwilling to educate well should be compelled to look for a paycheck elsewhere.

  • uniongal

    I suppose this is really teling...Fenty and Rhee at an anti-union event. I'm guessing that's what it is since you didn't mention any AFL-CIO or Change to Win union on that panel.

  • Ernest

    Let me say one thing I feel deep about: The words ‘teaching’ and ‘union’ should never be used in the same sentence. Provided one is a factory worker, a garbage collector or a carpenter, unionizing maybe necessary. Education of the young - resoundingly not. DCPS as an unionized environment? Preposterous. Say no to the union.

  • Mike DeBonis

    Nope, no union folks on the panel, and didn't seem to be any union folks there at all, from what I was told. BTW, the AFT is a "platinum-level" sponsor of the convention and prez Randi Weingarten will be addressing the floor this evening.

  • uniongal

    Thanks for the update Mike. All workers need a voice, no matter what field. Unions aren't just for laborers (LiUNA), Electricians (IBEW), writers (WGA) or casino workers (UAW), it's also for teachers (NEA, AFT, etc...) nurses (SEIU, CNA), Engineers (BLE, IUOE), county child support workers (Teamsters, AFSCME), even actors (SAG). To have an education forum and to not have any unions on the panel ESPECIALLY the very EDUCATION REFORM minded Randi Weingarten is a travesty. But to be an elected Democratic official to sit on such a panel is tantamount to being in your face anti-union. Something Rhee and Fenty seem to be courting as a mantra of theirs.

  • Peace

    Meet all operational needs in school buildings!Support and instructional feedback is critical ! Opposed that Mrs.Rhee feels she can re-write educational laws as she goes along as well as constitutional laws in the US in her public educational reform efforts.Want to save millions DC ? Ask the principle's and teacher's what they need to run a business and meet their resource needs to do so!Read about Rhee and the results thus far and wonder,is there no administrative remedy? When the needs in Rhee's school buildings have been met, then perhaps will not be so critical of her reform efforts. NCLB and 10% with increased accountability and to many policy makers influenced by politics ! What's missing ? Books for students,teacher's in classrooms and principle's in buildings falling apart!Or have they been fired ? Are the copy machines working today ? Meet the needs of our American public eduational school buldings !If you haven't read Manufactured Crisis yet, it's a great book for perspective !PL 107-110 unfunded and end the mandates, cause it's not working !