Monday, June 11, 2012

Parents Union Founder Fired From New Haven Schools Job Gwen Samuel Says She Lost Position In Retaliation For Hosting Michelle Rhee

If often paint the teachers unions with a broad brush, but that's not really accurate, as there are notable differences between the two national unions, and enormous differences among state and local affiliates.  Sometimes, the unions are reasonable and agree to changes that benefit kids.  But far too often, when faced with a choice of doing what's obviously right for kids vs. what's even a tiny bit better for their members, they throw the kids under the bus, often using thuggish tactics that remind me of the longshoreman's union.  Here's exhibit A this week: ed warrior Gwen Samuel, founder of the Connecticut Parents Union, was fired from her job with New Haven Public Schools' Head Start Program.  If you think the union had nothing to do with this, please contact me – I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.  Here's the short article in the Hartford Courant:


Parents Union Founder Fired From New Haven Schools Job

Gwen Samuel Says She Lost Position In Retaliation For Hosting Michelle Rhee


By ABIGAIL FERRUCCI, The Hartford Courant,0,373572.story

5:52 p.m. EDT, April 4, 2012


Gwen Samuel, founder and president of Connecticut Parent's Union, said Wednesday that she was fired last month from her part-time job with the New Haven Public Schools' Head Start program, and she thinks the timing was suspicious.


Samuel, 46, of Meriden, said she received the termination letter from her employer, the Gesell Institute of Child Development, on March 15, just one day after she organized a pro-education reform rally at the state Capitol.


The March 14 rally featured activist Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of Washington D.C. schools who is now CEO of StudentsFirst, which has championed teacher tenure reform across the country. Teachers and teachers union leaders have criticized Rhee's approach as "divisive," particularly during the heated debate over tenure and education reform now roiling in Connecticut.


The termination letter from the Gesell Institute's executive director, Marcy Guddemi, reads in part: "We have been informed by New Haven Public Schools that your involvement with Head Start parents on a personal advocacy level is considered a conflict of interest and have been asked to remove you from the Parent Teacher Connecticut Program."



Samuel said Wednesday she has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education and asked the state Department of Education to audit the Head Start program to explain why she was fired.


Although the termination letter blames her personal advocacy with parents, Samuel said, she was just as strong an advocate when she was hired in October 2011, and she believes she was fired in retaliation for the rally.


"If my personal advocacy was an issue, it would have been an issue several months ago," Samuel said.


And here's EAG with more on this disgraceful story:


A day after hosting a pro-education reform rally at the state capitol, the president of the Connecticut Parents Union was fired from her job as a workshop presenter with New Haven Public Schools' Head Start Program.


     CTPU President Gwen Samuel believes the local teachers union – the New Haven Federation of Teachers – is directly responsible for her firing, and says it is retaliation for bringing former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee to speak at the March 14 rally.

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