This past week, the DCTA Executive Committee was visited by Janel Highfill, a representative from the Stand For Children organization. Janel was asking the DCTA Executive Committee to support a study of the DCTA contract. It was made clear that the study was going forward whether we supported it or not. In addition, Stand For Children had already invited the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), an organization in Washington, D.C., to review the data gathered by Stand for Children and make recommendations to the Denver community through press releases and other public communication systems.
First, the Committee asked what exactly would the recommendations be focusing on. We were given an example of a similar study done in Tacoma, Washington. The recommendations were made on three main areas: Teacher Support and Development; Performance and Evaluation; and Compensation and Career Opportunities. The Committee pointed out that there were several other studies being done on ProComp – and we are heavily involved in LEAP – so why do one more study before the final results were out on the current ones? Janel felt their study was still necessary.
The final straw that convinced the Committee to say NO to supporting this effort was when we looked at the Board members who make up the National Council on Teacher Quality – the people who want to recommend the future of the DCTA contract. Here are just a few of their names and profiles:
Frank Keating: I was the state president of the Oklahoma Education Association when he served as governor of Oklahoma. When asked whether he thought the teachers of Oklahoma should get a raise (after 10 years of no raises) he said, “Only 10 to 15% of them should get a raise – the rest are slugs.” When asked what he would like to do with the teacher’s union, he said, “Homicide”.
Michelle Rhee: Former head of Washington DC Schools — currently supporting governors who slash education budgets and teacher rights – and known for how she left Washington DC schools embroiled in scandal .
One of Rhee’s famous quotes: “I think if there is one thing I have learned over the last 15 months, it’s that cooperation, collaboration and consensus-building are way overrated.”
So much for teacher voice and shared accountability! Find more of her greatest hits here.
Joel Klein: Klein ended his eight-year tenure as chancellor of New York City schools late last year after it was revealed the test scores that he pointed to as proof of the success of his business-based reforms were based on increasingly easy standardized exams. He now is Executive Vice President at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Two weeks after his move was announced, the company said it was buying a technology company with big financial ties to the New York City school system. One of Klein’s famous quotes on collaboration (from his long, union-bashing article in The Atlantic): “Collaboration is the elixir of the status-quo crowd.”
Eric Hanushek & Chester Finn, Jr. attacked the 2009 stimulus plan because it created too many jobs for teachers, and they like the “opportunity” to purge teachers presented by the economic downturn.
Teach Plus, one of the organizations listed, is known to be an organization that advocates for disruptive turnarounds and mass firings that have no basis in the research evidence.
Most of the “research” groups on the list of NCTQ’s Board are think tanks funded by privatization focused individuals and corporations, and much of the “research” they are using to attack contracts like ours is deeply flawed and has been debunked by groups like the National Education Policy Center.
The plan outlined by Stand for Children is to ask teachers to participate in focus groups and a survey to gather the information before submitting it to NCTQ for review. Janel asked us to support the project by encouraging our members to participate. After researching persons who make up the NCTQ Board — the DCTA Executive Committee declined support because they do not trust how this group will spin the results.
There will probably be those who will say the union is blocking reform – but – handing our contract over to NCTQ would be like letting a hungry shark teach our children how to swim!
Executive Director, DCTA