Wednesday, June 16, 2010

D.C. school chancellor Michelle Rhee says New York must learn from her groundbreaking union deal

Michelle Rhee with an op ed in yesterday's NY Daily News calling for NY to adopt a similar contract to the one she negotiated with the AFT, which teachers approved with an 80% (!) majority.  I hope you're still down, but Rhee gives props to Randi:


For two-and-a-half years, the District of Columbia Public Schools were locked in a difficult negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement with the Washington Teachers' Union. The process has had its fair share of fits and starts, high drama and moments of intrigue. After announcing a tentative agreement with the union on April 6, last week our teachers voted to ratify the contract by an 80%-20% margin, a resounding endorsement of the proposal.

Many doubted such overwhelming support from teachers was possible given the innovative nature of the contract. However, what teachers showed us is that they're ready for change. They sent a clear message that they're willing to be held accountable as long as they are treated like professionals.

The contract is groundbreaking in many ways, and can serve as a roadmap for other districts - including, I hope, the largest and most important public school district in the country, New York City, where teachers have been working without a contract since October. Despite some real improvements achieved over the past few years, New York continues to operate under a contract that is much more focused on arcane rules, seniority and job protections than about how to promote better learning outcomes for kids. United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein must change this.

The D.C. contract includes many provisions that were once considered "sacred cows," but as it turns out, were wholly embraced by our teachers. These include:…

…- Use Randi Weingarten. I don't like to get in the middle of someone else's negotiation and I know that there is a long and complicated history between Weingarten and Klein. However, based on my experiences negotiating with Weingarten, she is very much able to see the direction the nation is heading in and the fact that unions need to be a part of the solution. Both Klein and Mulgrew should lean on her.


D.C. school chancellor Michelle Rhee says New York must learn from her groundbreaking union deal

Sunday, June 13th 2010, 4:00 AM

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