Monday, December 15, 2008

No Union Busting Here, Folks....

In an unsigned editorial, the Washington Post prevaricates,
Ms. Rhee has been accused of trying to break the union when, in truth, she rejected a plan to bring in a firm adept at union-busting in favor of working one-on-one with local labor officials whom she believed shared her philosophy that children come first.
A more realistic interpretation is that she was told by the union busting firm, "It's not going to work here."

It tells you something about Rhee that, before opening negotiations, she even considered hiring a "firm adept at union-busting" to attack the teacher's union. It tells you something else about Rhee (and the Washington Post) that the dream plan she has for teachers - the plan the Post gushes over every week or two - is a highly classified secret, and isn't available anywhere for people, be they curious outsiders like me or teachers who are told how wonderful it is, to read. Rhee's not interested in union busting? Perhaps Fred Hiatt and his editorial writers should, you know, read their own paper.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee are discussing a dramatic expansion of their effort to remove ineffective teachers by restoring the District's power to create nonunionized charter schools and seeking federal legislation declaring the school system in a "state of emergency," a move that would eliminate the need to bargain with the Washington Teachers' Union.
Nope... not even a slight interest in union busting there....

I'm prepared to believe that Rhee's proposal is the best thing since sliced bread. But if it truly is such a wonderful plan, and is sustainable, why isn't she focusing her energies on publicizing the plan rather than keeping it under wraps?


  1. Doesn't her plan claim that she's going to pay teachers "merit raises" up to $100,000? Of course, where this money will come from is a mystery....

  2. An article I read indicates that she has private commitments of money (i.e., corporate donations) that are supposed to pay for the first year or two of increased compensation. After that, who knows?

    It's reasonable to ask: how could a union justify giving up tenure for its members based upon promised short-term raises for some (and termination for others), followed by "who knows"?

    Sustainability is a huge question. I somehow doubt that the environment for securing long-term, year-after-year multi-million dollar corporate commitments to pay teacher salaries has improved over the past six months.

  3. I'm still not sure what kind of reform would work in a school system like DC's or Detroit's. But I'm inclined to think it would have to be something radical. (Nothing remotely "normal" has worked.)

    I concur with Aaron that a union's primary job is to promote the economic welfare of its members. However, that begs the question of what to do when the "economic best interests of the membership" has little or nothing to do with the mission of education.

    Clearly, Rhee is trying to sell the teachers a pig in a poke. On the other hand, these are the same teachers who have had union president's steal millions from them and who readily admit that they wouldn't want their children to attend the schools where they teach . . . and are surprised that anyone would expect them too . . .

    I'm not sure that busting the Union is a necessary step in the process, but blowing the whole system up and starting over has some theoretical merit . . .


  4. CleanConscious12/16/08, 10:39 AM

    No, I've heard it first-hand...Rhee does NOT have any commitments for the money! She's talked with them, but I've talked to mortgage lenders and that doesn't mean I got the money...there's so much misinformation out there.

  5. In the absence of information, how can there be anything but misinformation? We're entering the world of 10,000 monkeys pounding on typewriters - sure, somebody may guess the right details, but how would you know?

  6. "No, I've heard it first-hand...Rhee does NOT have any commitments for the money!"

    Gee, we have a member of Ms. Rhee's staff writing on our blog.

    I don't know how close "cc's" ties are to Rhee, but according to the Washington Post, there has been money pledged (although, as noted by Aaron, not with any kind of detail released or long term commitment.)



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