Last week in Washington DC, the AFL-CIO chief joined the Teachers union and a few thousand supporters in attacking DC Public School Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s decision that laid off 388 employees including 229 classroom teachers. Their rally on Freedom Plaza, ironically the same location used by supporters of the DC Opportunity Scholarship program for their first rally, was focused on the lack of respect that teachers are given in the District and a main cause in their dismissal.
The AFLO-CIO chief was quoted discussing the layoffs as:
“A cold, hard case of union busting. The labor movement is right here with you (teachers union), we’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with you for as long as it takes.”
The Washington Teachers Union claim embellishes the necessary layoffs as discrimination toward veteran teachers, which disrespects all teachers and students in the DC public school system. Unfortunately, what the Washington Teachers Union does not see or care to focus on is that Chancellor Rhee has publicly and repeatedly announced that veteran teachers were not targeted. Many teachers that were let go had less than 10 years of experience.
The decisions made were based on the effectiveness of the teacher in the classroom. If a teacher was not meeting the necessary caliber, they were reviewed to be let go. This time of economic downturn has forced many to lose their jobs. I don’t understand why the teachers union continues to attack Chancellor Rhee for doing her job and not breaking any laws in doing so. The article mentions Rhee’s comments on a radio interview:
“Rhee said in a radio interview Thursday that veteran teachers were not targeted, and, for the first time, she offered specifics about who was dismissed. She said that more than half of the terminated teachers had 10 or fewer years of experience and that about 40 percent had worked for five or fewer years.
“I think that it is irresponsible, quite frankly, for the union leadership to be making accusations they have no data to support,” she said.
I reviewed the video that the Washington Post posted on their Web site from the rally and was initially disturbed by what I heard.
“Michelle Rhee better watch her back, she is going down.”
Seriously? Is that their strategy, threatening words? If so, their plan is seriously flawed. I understand a need to protest, we are given that right as Americans, however, I find threats a little below the belt, and uncouth.
This rally was a week ago, today, leading to only lawsuits claiming discrimination towards teachers and hearing to be held by the D.C. Council. I stand behind Michelle Rhee and the Fenty Administration on these necessary firing, which were meant not to be a personal attack any person, acknowledging that Chancellor Rhee job was to settle the budget cuts in the DC public school system. Children come first, that is the underlying issue. It was nothing personal, just business.