D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s decision to cut jobs — specifically, the jobs of 229 teachers with tenure — has sparked such an uproar that rallies and protests have been scheduled throughout the week by the Washington Teachers Union.

Chancellor Rhee made an executive decision to lay off these teachers – a decision that I, and many, agree with. According to the Washington Post, “Rhee said the budget crunch was legitimate but acknowledged that she intended to use it as an opportunity to continue removing under-performing teachers from the system.”

Michelle Rhee made the right decision — under-performing teachers should be the first to go if there are budget cuts. If teachers are failing our students, they should be held accountable. Tenure does the opposite, merely protecting them from losing their jobs.

Rhee had to cut the fat in the D.C. public schools system. She should be praised in her efforts to effect real, meaningful change in the school system, not be reprimanded or attacked.

Unsurprisingly, the Washington Teachers Union opposes Chancellor Rhee’s decision and plans to “Rally for Respect” on Thursday, asserting in a press release:

“A year ago, DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee appeared stern-faced and holding a broom on the cover of a national magazine beside a caption that read, “How To Fix America’s Schools.” Does the chancellor plan to “fix” D.C. public schools with a sweep by arbitrarily firing teachers and school employees? Will she insist on using an ineffective teacher evaluation system that does little to support classroom practice and nothing to encourage students’ academic growth? Join together with the Washington Teachers’ Union, colleagues, parents and community members to demand respect for our students, schools, teachers and school employees.” 

Respect, huh? Of course teachers and school employees deserve respect — but Rhee’s decision is far from “arbitrary.” If a teacher fails to educate their students, they should be held accountable.  The best way to show students real respect is through providing a proper education.

Ignoring the problem isn’t respect, nor is convincing students to protest school. Chancellor Rhee is trying to fix America’s schools. What are the teachers unions doing? They are protecting their own self interests.