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  • Unions at It Again: D.C. Being Made to Hire Back Fired Teachers

    Will the unions help keep poor teachers from returning to the classroom?” asked Saturday’s Washington Post, reminding us that union intransigience stretches from Madison,WI to Washington, D.C.

    An independent arbitrator recently ruled that D.C. Public Schools will be required to hire back 75 teachers fired during Michelle Rhee’s tenure. On top of this, D.C. will also be required to pay two years in back wages, costing the city approximately $7.5 million.

    Although the dismissed teachers were still in their probationary period, arbitrator Charles Feigenbaum claims that they were improperly let go because the district failed to comply with proper dismissal procedures.

    As Feigenbaum noted in his ruling, according to the school district’s union agreement, if a probationary teacher receives negative reviews after both years of his or her trial period, the school district can dismiss that teacher. While the 75 dismissed teachers received negative reviews during their first year, and principal reports from the second year indicate poor performance–tardiness, unprofessional behavior, “rude and aggressive” demeanor, and so forth–because the teachers did not receive sufficient written explanations for their tardiness, D.C. Public Schools are being faulted.

    D.C.’s situation is a prime example of the struggles leaders face today–as a result of collective bargaining agreements and entrenched policies– that make it nearly impossible to ensure the quality of teachers in their schools. This is not only bad for students, but it also makes it difficult for other teachers. Said Rhee:

    It drives effective teachers crazy when there is somebody working next to them that is not pulling their own weight and when they inherit a group of kids… several grade levels behind because somebody didn’t do their job.

    Rhee also noted a study “that concluded the United States would rise to the top among nations in student achievement if the lowest performing 5 percent to 8 percent of teachers were replaced with those who are average.”

    But there is hope. At present, several governors and mayors across the nation are promoting policies to reform such laws–teacher tenure laws–that protect ineffective teachers and hence decrease a child’s chance for a good education. Governors and mayors from New York to Nevada, and most recently Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel, are promoting policies to ensure that students have the best opportunity to be taught by a quality teacher.

    Meanwhile, leaders like Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin are beginning to tackle the fiscal problems associated with union demands that will unfairly burden future generations with massive debt.
    It is promising to see so many state leaders standing up and saying no to bad policies and union demands and saying yes to the best interests of children and teachers alike. Protecting poor teachers at the expense of a child’s future is unacceptable. Policies that put students first are crucial to increasing educational achievement in the United States.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    23 Responses to Unions at It Again: D.C. Being Made to Hire Back Fired Teachers

    1. George Colgrove, VA says:

      When will it stop? $7.5 million for what? THESE ARE PUBLIC FUNDS!!! FUNDS THAT ARE DRYING UP FAST. Even though the counties surrounding DC are enjoying massive increases in household incomes, DC is not. These federal goons work in the city then go to their utiopian urban xcommunities and leave the poor in DC scrambling for what they can get. SUre there are ultra rich who live in DC, but most head out of town for reside.

      DC is a little better off then the rest of the country, but not my much. This ruling is nothing more than an assault on the DC taxpayer. The grab of the taxpayer money by the public employees is cycling out of control.

    2. Elaine says:

      Unions are hurting us more and more each day. Our Representatives need to do something immediately – everywhere. It is bad for the people who do not abuse the extra benefits but when we are forced to pay bad teachers money for anything. Fire all of the union workers and hire non union workers and get a better employee at a more modest price .

    3. Bob Ulmer: Owensboro says:

      Barack Obama is a big Union Backer maybe he will kick in some of his salary to pay these teachers that were fired because they were, less say not suitable for teaching! How many of you in D.C. want their child to be in the classroom of one of the fired teachers??

    4. Slewis Ca says:

      OK, all of those you that think govt workers do not deserve the protection of unions and that they do not work as hard as the private sector…sign up now for the take a convict home program! Without unions both in the private and the public sector we could all return to the Triangle Shirt factory days….

      State worker, county worker, private sector worker we are all just trying to keep our homes and our kids safe…we are all suffering from this situation, private and public…NO one has it easy and pointing fingers only further divides….is that the American way? .

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    6. Bobbie says:

      The probationary period is way too extensive. Especially in regard to the minds of the youth. 1/4 of a school year under the direction of a lesser qualified teacher, can develop much damage to the minds potential.

      Michelle Rhee did what was responsible for the better education of the students. No back pay, NO REHIRE. They didn't perform what was expected of them when they had the job.

      HIGHER STANDARDS EXPECTED AND ACCOUNTABILITY REQUIRED! (we foot the bill) GOVERNMENT UNIONS DO NOTHING TEACHERS CAN'T DO FOR THEMSELVES… accept corrupt the situation and make puppets out of teachers.

    7. Bobbie says:

      There should be no suggestion of "improperly let go" when it comes to unqualified teachers versus the children they teach…Despicable.

    8. David E. says:

      I am a conservative Republican who is also a President of a bargaining unit in the State of California. The reason I do this is that our leaders or those who are in authority are not following the law. It is stated clearly that the returning teachers were not properly dismissed. There is a law that states what the procedure is and it was not adhered to. Please, do not start making the same mistakes Liberals make. Do not blame the Unions, they are not always to blame. Choices were made by unaccountable people who have their own agenda. I applaud Gov. Walker for what he wants to do. But, how did it get that way? The Unions are not to blame, completely. It is my opinion that the Unions still have a usefulness, albeit not the same as it used to be and it would behoove Conservatives to meet and discuss and to find common ground to build on. You may be surprised at how much Unions, or some Unions want to help rebuild this country and this economy. I am a Christian, and believe the Word of God.

    9. Jeanne Stotler,Woodb says:

      Unions have outlived their usefulness. They were intended to make sure employers paid a fare wage, worked employees on an hourly basis not to exceed XX hrs. and suffifient breaks during a days/nights shift. They also made sure working conditions were fit and clean. Now there are federal and local laws in place for most of this and employees are forced in most states to pay huge dues so Union officials get huge checks and Union money is used to promote political parties and ideas which the Union member might not agree with. Federal employees and State employees should not be unioized, it appears to me that there is conflict of Interest when the Union supports one party and the other is sitting in the Capital and the Employee might not support either. I've seen Union letters urging(to put it nicely) for te Union member to vote for this one or that agenda, I do not believe this should occur, it infringes on our rights to have freedom to vote as we want and our concious dictates.

    10. Jason, Indiana says:

      It should be handled as it is in the public sector. An employer has no need to inform you of poor performance, or be held accountable for firing based on poor performance. Ask the teachers in any school building who the slackers are, and they will have no problem pointing them out to you because they are proud to be teachers, and understand the role of educators. I say do away with "public" education, and make it a free market scenario, where schools are kept functioning based on performance only. Allow the schools to accept, or more importantly NOT accept students based on their willingness to participate in the educational process. Do the same with the teachers, principles, and other administration staff. No more forced failing "educations" for our kids…

    11. Jesse, Fresno, CA says:

      It's the school districts fault for not following policies and procedures. Not the contract. If the district officials were doing their job properly then those teachers would not be coming back.

    12. JIm, Dallas TX says:

      One word- OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    13. Bobbie says:

      Contract or not, it's the teachers fault for not living up to their expectations of their personal responsibilities. That's where contracts should be exempt. We're talking about children vs. adults here. A contract should never interfere with public education of the youth. The minds of the youth should never be compromised and no one with a sincere will to teach, would.

      Children and tax payers deserve better. If the government educators can't live up to a higher standard from low standards we've been forced to accept, privatize all public education. With all these protections for government educators and all their controversies is a bit unsettling at tax payers expense…

    14. Scott, Montana says:

      From my view, this so called "independent arbitrator" should be investigated. I would almost bet that they would find that he's been bought off by the teacher's union or some such entity to reach this type of decision. But this also goes to underscore the reason why orginizations like the Teacher's Unions need to be abolished. $7.5 million taxpayer dollars to rehire teachers who were tardy, unprofessional, and incompetent. This is crazy.

      Break the unions, and put the control back at the local level….where it belongs. Teachers should be employees of the schools where they teach. And if they fail to perform, or are incompetent, then they need to go, before their actions cause more harm to our children.

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    16. David William Edward says:

      Unions have NOT outlived their usefulness. Their role has changed and some Unions have not realized what that change is. There are federal and local laws in place, true……thanks to Union representation. But, who is going to represent the employee when those laws are not followed. The same people who broke them in the first place. Preposterous! Talk about a conflict of interest. As for the monies spent by the Union promoting a political party there are laws on the books that allow Union members to opt out of such activities. A conflict of interest exists when a party benefits from a decision that same party has a role in influencing. Therefore, when a Union supports one party but the other party is in control..no conflict of interest is present. A conflict may be present as in a disagreement of how to resolve an issue. But no conflict of interest. Federal and State employees should not be unionized? We are less than private employees? We are second class citizens? We should have no voice in our working conditions? The constitution should not apply to us? Please, it is this sort of uncivilized thinking that created the Unions in the first place, which brings me back to my first assertion. It is time for Conservative leadership to embrace labor and seek the common ground on which we can coexist. Unions are not going to go away because bad bosses and poor working conditions still exist in this century, too.

    17. Wes in cincy says:

      Public employee unions have been allowed too much power. that needs to be adjusted. The sorry workers are prevalent in the private sector unions too. I worked 36 years for major auto company and I saw many instances where employees were fired for stealing or coming to work drunk and the union got them back a year later with backpay. Unions have gone too far, greedy for power and money. We need the unions, but we don't need the corruption in them.

      The public employee unions want too act like the private sector unions. But they should not because they are being paid by the taxpayer who has to pay dearly

      for their corruption.

    18. Al, Glenwood says:

      I'm all for paying qualified teachers a fair, living, saving wage, to include benefits and modest matching funds to a 401K plan with my tax dollars. It's a difficult job.

      However, when legacy costs (overly generous pension and health benifets) cripple the treasury, due to agreements made by aggressive union bargaining, coupled with less than attentive public representation, (vote buying) we, the taxpayer, are left holding the bag.

      And when agreements allow less than qualified teachers to remain on the payroll, or be reimbursed back pay for a "technicality", we the taxpayer are held up again.

      Today, GM should be out of business, due a number of factors. Mostly management, but a large part due to outlandish union contracts. But, once again the taxpayer is robbed again. And union members are saved.

      Public union members need to fund larger and larger shares of their own retirement plans and not saddle future generations with a penny of debt..

    19. Bobbie says:

      I'm all for qualified teachers but teachers with union backing tells me they're not sincere or genuine or really qualified in what they do. Government unions are dictators that promote greed and ignorance behind the backs of the people the government is suppose to be serving. . Government unions thieve for more unsustainable wages, protection of incompetence and rights to hold no accountability and undeserved privileges, doesn't exist in the private sector.

      Plain and simple. we're tired of being cheated by corruption and fraud regarding governments actions to promote non-productive, inefficient, ineffective government unions, government employees and government programs. Totally dishonest and totally underhanded….

    20. David E. says:

      Watch with wonder how upper management Public Employees abuse their Lower paid Laborers. Their paychecks and benefits will remain fat while the folks that actually do their jobs and punish their bodies will be at, below or near poverty levels. Mark my words, the refusal to negotiate on both parts will have dire circumstances. It is disheartening to see so many uninformed posts attacking honest, hardworking people who have experienced this abuse and see the need for Unions in their workplace. If Employers were more honest and less greedy Unions would have never existed in the first place. The truth of the matter will rise to the surface. I still applaud Gov. Walker for his intestinal fortitude but I think stripping the workers negotiating rights went to far and time will bear me out on this one.

    21. Bobbie says:

      When there's abuse there's the NLRB. Unfortunately David E, you disregard the individual in the private sector that take matters into their own hands.

      Nobody is referring to the honest, hard worker The focus is what the government workers get more of then the private sector that pays for them.

      No one is honest or hard working when unions have incompetence and unaccountable protections. It's a threat educating children. That is heartless.

      You should research the greedy employers, the ones mentioned by the government were the ones government chose to bail out. I know it sounds bad but if a man earns his money and greed is what he is, why care? He's not stealing from the tax payers in the manner government is.

      It's about time we have integrity running this country.

    22. Mo says:

      This problem is more deeply seated than people seem to realize.

      Think of it this way- would you like to have a doctor that doesn't know the difference between a cold and the flu?- I sure wouldn't

      Some people are not cut out to be doctors- hence the rigor of medical school and the competition to become enrolled in a medical school

      Take a look at our graduate and undergraduate programs for educators- do you know of anyone who hasn't graduated from these programs? I don't. However, I do know people who should not have passed, that do not connect with children, and do not have the skills necessary to help and care for children. There were some people in my graduate classes who said- um, like, or yeh- every other word… people who believe that is okay to say mean things to children… people who do not genuinely care about children or other people.

      In college- as a chemistry and Spanish double major, while participating in a division I sport, the college choir, and was the head of student academics of the college…. everyone knew that the education students had it easy… but no one did anything about it. It used to pain me that my roommates would go out every night- and I would be in the lab trying to make a new discovery that could help to change the world.

      Some people should not be teachers.- Some people should not be admitted into programs to be teachers. Higher educational schools need to be selective about who should be working with their children.

      The point I am trying to make here- is that the trouble with good educators does not begin after a teacher is hired- but before- with the education of the individual. Educational programs are not weeding out inadequate teachers. So- we are stuck with "educated" people with a masters- does that make them good teachers?….. absolutely not.

      Just wanted to leave you with something to think about.

    23. Pingback: Wisconsin Wave Continues: Students’ Interests Overtake Union Demands | The Foundry

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