Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Much Ado About Rhee

There has been much outrage in the blogosphere over the Michelle Rhee op-ed piece in today's Daily News in which the D.C. schools chancellor urges New York City teachers to capitulate to a contract that is similar to the one just agreed to in the nation's capital - one in which teachers agree to merit pay, a loss of seniority, a loss of tenure, loss of job protections (being rated "ineffective" gets you fired) and a loss of the right to grieve an "ineffective rating."

As pushback, let me note the irony that Rhee is pushing NYC teachers to agree to lose any kind of job protections even as she has desperately tried to keep her job in D.C. by tying new stipulations in the D.C. teachers contract to her maintaining her position as head of the school system:

WASHINGTON - D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is under fire again as the city's Office of Campaign Finance has begun an investigation on whether the chancellor broke the law in tying private funding for teacher salaries to her keeping her job. In the end, the city's chief financial officer and the D.C. Council refused to go along with that deal.

It would have meant millions of dollars in private money but there was a condition that the funding could be withdrawn if there was a substantial change in leadership at the top of the school system. One local citizen cried foul and asked for an investigation.

The contract ratified by D.C teachers would give them 20 percent pay hikes by the year 2015. But more than $60 million of that would have come from private funding committed by the D.C. Public Education Fund, but with a catch. The third party funders would reserve the right to reconsider their support if there is a material change in DCPS’ leadership.

Robert Brannum, the person who filed for the investigation says that would mean Rhee would get some personal benefit and that is a conflict of interest.

“They cannot guarantee someone a position. That's what this was essentially seeking to do in my view, thru the back door,” said Brannum.

The Office of Campaign Finance has accepted Brannum's request for an investigation and determined there may be reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred.

Somebody want to tell the Daily News that Rhee has - to paraphrase Arlo Guthrie - a lot of damned gall to decry job protections for teachers at the same time she enshrines job protections for herself via the corporate cronies she has paying for the merit pay program in the D.C. contract?

Ah, screw it - I'll do it myself.

But you should write them too.

Maybe they too would find this ironic and/or hypocritical.

Or maybe not.

In Zuckerman's world (as in Bloomberg's world), people at the top are worthy of all kinds of protections while everybody else is subject to firing at a moment's notice.


  1. Good point! The hypocrisy is rampant among the privateers.

    Similarly, business executives are all for competition, and rail against welfare and government subsidies, unless their own companies go bankrupt and then they are the first to demand help.

  2. Welcome to the Michelle Rhee "mind your own business" club.

  3. Thanks, Leonie. I have long been an admirer of your work, so it is nice to have you come by the blog.

    And Chaz, I saw all those posts go up yesterday, but something kept itching me about the D.C. contract - and then I remembered. She was being investigated for a conflict of interest for writing in her own job protection into the Walmart grant.

    What chutzpah!

  4. Yeah, these creeps like Rhee and Bloomberg are all for the loss of job security, except their own.