Education

The Grown Ups Are Alright. The Kids, Less So.

|

still waiting

When Adrian Fenty lost the Democratic primary for mayor of Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee somewhat intemperately said this:

"Yesterday's election results were devastating, devastating. Not for me, because I'll be fine, and not even for Fenty, because he'll be fine, but devastating for the schoolchildren of Washington, D.C."

She semi-apologized later, but she was right.

Rhee has since appeared on Oprah and founded a new organization, StudentsFirst. Fenty is doing ed reform victory laps, picking up a gig advising language learning company Rosetta Stone and a visiting professor slot at Oberlin.

As for D.C. schoolkids, they're getting back a ton of the crappy teachers Rhee managed to get rid of:

An independent arbitrator in Montgomery County has ordered the District of Columbia Public Schools to rehire 75 teachers who were fired in 2008 by former Chancellor Michelle Rhee for, among other things, being AWOL from school for weeks at a time, not preparing lesson plans, cursing at students, poor classroom management and high levels of student failure. Nathan Saunders, head of the Washington Teachers' Union, expects that 80 more probationary teachers fired by Rhee on similar grounds in 2009 likewise will be reinstated. All will be given full back pay and compensation from their termination dates.

The decision to reinstate doesn't turn on whether the teachers deserved to be fired—all were recommended for termination by their principals—but on the finer points of union protocol. Rhee failed to formally inform the teachers of the reason they were fired, though one imagines she made it pretty clear that it was for sucking. In fact, she got in pretty big trouble at the time for telling Fast Company exactly what the firings were about:

"I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school," Rhee says. "Why wouldn't we take those things into consideration?"

Lots more about Rhee here.

NEXT: Turning Off the Internet

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Big-city school districts seem to be nothing more than giant evil tax-eating organizations run for the benefit of their staff.

  2. “I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school,” Rhee says. “Why wouldn’t we take those things into consideration?”

    Why, that lousy right-wing radical! Imagine, firing those hard-working, unonized and highly statist teachers for those measly peccadilloes!

    Who did she think she was, anyway?

  3. I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school

    Always look for the union label!

    1. “I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school,”

      Except, um, she didn’t. Rhee never fired a single teacher for having sex with a student. Her statement was borderline slander. I’m quite willing to believe that many if not all of the teachers she fired deserved to be fired, but when people are being fired, which is, after all, a pretty drastic step, particularly when you’re the person being fired, and your position is subject to a union contract (remember “freedom of contract,” Reasonnettes?), is it too much to ask that the terms of that contract be honored? Michelle lets her mouth get ahead of her mind from time to time.

      Let the record show I voted for Fenty and supported Michelle. But lies are lies, and when Michelle said she fired teachers for having sex with students, she told a whopper.

  4. In Morning Links I’ve been posting articles about the battle we are having over an education bill in Indiana. There is an FB page out there to support teachers in this debate, and on it they specifically talk about how destructive and crazy Michelle Rhee is. Do not underestimate the hate teachers unions have for her.

    1. I’m pretty sure the teachers’ unions in FL got the message when she was appointed to the new governor’s transition team. I think they finally have accepted the fact that its merit pay or nothing as far as raises go. That’s a start.

  5. Let he among you who has not taken a paid 78-day violent sex-with-children vacation cast the first stone.

    1. Thread winner.

    2. *starts throwing rocks*

  6. any competent administrator can follow due process. rhee’s mismanagement is also a problem.

    1. OhioOrrin|2.16.11 @ 10:36AM|#
      “any competent administrator can follow due process. rhee’s mismanagement is also a problem.”

      Brand new straw-grasper for Valentines day?

    2. Re: OhioOrrin,

      any competent administrator can follow due process.

      She did. She said “YOU’RE FIRED! GET OUT OF HERE!” When it comes to employment, that’s the only due process there can be, as NOBODY IS ENTITLED TO A FUCKING JOB, YOU MORON!

      1. Like it or not, the U.S. Supreme Court says differently when it comes to *public* employment. I don’t like it any more than you do, but you can’t legally fire a public employee without following certain procedures.

        1. Re: Steve,

          Like it or not, the U.S. Supreme Court says differently when it comes to *public* employment.

          Like it or not, Steve, I don’t rely in appeals to authority. A decision by the SCOTUS does not bend reality, and the reality is that nobody is entitled to a fucking job. Those laws were born from corrupted ideas, that’s the bottom line.

        2. Re: Steve,

          but you can’t legally fire a public employee without following certain procedures.

          Oh, and you CAN fire a public employee – you simply stop paying him or her. Oh, he or she may take the administration to court, but then it becomes the administration’s game, not the employee’s.

          1. You remind me of the guy who comes up with a rationale for why he shouldn’t have to pay his taxes, fails to pay his taxes, then whines when he gets in trouble with the IRS.

            My reference to current Supreme Court jurisprudence wasn’t an “appeal to authority” in the academic sense (i.e. “so-and-so with all these credentials says such-and-such, therefore such-and-such is right”). Supreme Court decisions are, like it or not, law. It is a FACT that the Supreme Court has held that there exists a Constitutionally protected property interest in public employment. I disagree with this conclusion, but I’m not going to let my personal disagreement guide my actions if I’m ever in a position to fire incompetent public employees.

            1. Re: Steve,

              You remind me of the guy who comes up with a rationale for why he shouldn’t have to pay his taxes, fails to pay his taxes, then whines when he gets in trouble with the IRS.

              Well, fuck, Steve, there is a rationale: taxing is thieving. Whatever a person decides to do afterwards depends, however, on his common sense. I *know* that by principle I should not have to give my wallet to the nice, armed thug – but that will not save me from being killed or maimed.

              Your argument “The SCOTUS said so!” pretty much only serves to end debate, not to foster it. OO makes the case that Rhee was a bad administrator because she did not follow procedures (which by the way can take years and a shitload of someone else’s money). I contend she is being a GOOD administrator for thinking in terms of being an EMPLOYER – you FIRE people that don’t perform.

              Oh, by the way – those people were reinstated AFTER she was gone, which means nobody tried to appeal the court’s decision. Rhee would have done that, no question about it, and if so, would again show her mettle.

              1. old mex – in addition to due process, what other civil liberties do u wish to dispense with?

                1. You moron. Due process refers to a criminal trial. There is no trial here. The boss is firing employees.

                  1. Due process is for any situation in which a state actor must deprive a person of life, liberty, or property.

                  2. no rhee improperly fired employees, which is why they had to be re-instated.

                    1. How does the employer “improperly fire” an employee? Their bosses (the principals) wanted them gone. Oh, right. Unions.

                    2. due process, union or not.

  7. I feel sorry for the kids in DC, but their parents are getting the government they deserve for voting out Fenty.

    1. This. It’s California all over again.

  8. “Won’t Someone Think of The Children” and (re)hire more teachers

    versus

    “Won’t Someone Think of The Children” and fire child-rapists.

    I’m gonna need more popcorn for this.

    1. versus

      “The LAW is The LAW, this isn’t about the welfare of children forced into the hands of the state.”

    2. Won’t someone think of the Child Molesting Teachers?!?!?!

  9. All will be given full back pay and compensation from their termination dates.

    But it’s not about the money, dammit!

    These are caring, dedicated individuals, who love the little chilluns.

    1. who love the little chilluns.

      Too much, apparently.

    2. Man, I wish I could get fired from the D.C. schools.

  10. If the arbitrator correctly determined that Rhee failed to follow the proper legal procedures for canning these public employees, then the blame for this fiasco (the re-hiring and award of back pay to incompetent teachers) falls on Rhee. Right or wrong, the LAW requires that certain procedures be followed when firing a public employee. This isn’t about “the fine points of union protocol,” it’s about law. When the law prescribes written notice, opportunities for hearings, an appeals process, etc., an administrator can’t dispense with these requirements on the grounds that the employee “sucked.”

    1. I think when you miss 78 days of school it’s pretty clear why you got fired.

      1. And if you shoot somebody in front of 100 witnesses it’s pretty clear why you’re in jail. But if the judge dispensed with a jury trial and just ordered you locked up because “it’s obvious you’re guilty,” the judge is to blame when your lawyer gets you sprung on appeal.

        1. Rhee failed to formally inform the teachers of the reason they were fired

          Yeah, totally the same thing as imprisonment without a trial.

          1. Actually, it’s pretty closely analogous. In both cases there’s a deprivation of 14th Amendment Due Process rights, as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. I don’t like the fact that the Court has identified a Constitutionally protected “property interest” in public employment, but my disagreement doesn’t change the fact that it’s the law. Hate the game, not the player.

            1. Is straw lining in a hand basket to Hell.

              Worthless.

            2. Hate the players who wont fucking grow up and do their jobs for the needful purpose of their employment instead of playing the game that allows them to abuse a decadent system serving only the interest of the likes of selfish people like you.

            3. Hate the game, not the player.

              I can do both. You are raising fair points about the law, and I can agree that needs to be changed.

              But I can still hate the unscrupulous fucks who take advantage of the law. I manage to make a decent living without fucking anybody over by manipulating the rule of law.

              There’s one thing the law can’t protect those teachers and their union from: my contempt. Yeah, I know, they don’t care. But someday they will want something from me. Good luck wit dat.

            4. They aren’t entitled to Due Process until they file a civil suit. Just because the government is the actor, it doesn’t follow that they are violating Due Process by not holding a trial.

    2. So you’re saying the answer here is to change those laws that make it difficult to get rid of rotten teachers ? Or privatize, so that the teacher’s union isn’t a political constituency ?

      1. No, i’m pretty sure all that was said was “you have to follow the rules, because they’re the rules, and rules have to be followed.”

        1. As wylie goose steps into the arbitration hearing he spouts the all important rule of life –

          “you have to follow the rules, because they’re the rules, and rules have to be followed.”

          Do you lick authoritarian’s boots after polishing them?

          1. Ummm… I’m all for taking a principled stand on important issues, but when you’re trying to resolve an issue through legal proceedings, well, yeah, “the rules” are pretty dang important.

            Go ahead and fight the power–viva la Revolucion and all that–but if you want to accomplish anything within the existing framework there’s a right way and a wrong way.

            Hate the game, not the player.

            1. Sorry Steve, most commentators here have the mindset of a child, and don’t play well with others. You’re right, and SCOTUS was wrong, but it’s more important to get rid of incompetent teachers so following the rules, as unfair as they may seem, is the right way to do things.

              1. Sorry Steve, most commentators here have the mindset of a child

                Wrong, and you are a fool if you believe that. Why would anyone willingly participate in a system like this (being a taxpayer) where the only course of action allowed for them if they stay in that system is to be passive chumps for dastardly bastards who play them? Instead, they vote with their feet. That is exactly what I did when I decided DC was not the place for me.

    3. Those “proper legal procedures” you mentioned. Rhee could have served fifty terms and only managed to fire a handful. Now at least it’s causing an uproar.

    4. While these teachers were entitled to more rights than most workers (who are employed at will), there’s usually a “harmful error” doctrine applied to these cases.

      If AWOL teacher lacked notice that he was being fired for AWOL, he has to show that the notice would have made a material difference in the outcome.

      I think you might show that one or two instances of AWOL involved some debatable questions. 78 instances? Debate’s over–hit the bricks.

  11. Do not underestimate the hate teachers unions have for her.

    Every crackpot religion needs its demons.

  12. My god – its full of crooks.

  13. Teachers, cops, firemen…it’s all about their higher calling. Not like those private sector workers who do it for just for the money. Riiiiight.

  14. Right or wrong, the LAW requires that certain procedures be followed when firing a public employee. This isn’t about “the fine points of union protocol,” it’s about law.

    The law is an ass.

    1. Right, who needs the rule of law? I say shoot all the lawyers and let society function according to good old-fashioned common sense. There is NO WAY any injustice could be found within such a perfect anarchist utopia.

      1. Your strawman is burning.

      2. Re: Steve,

        Right, who needs the rule of law?

        “Procedures” and “rules” are not the Rule of Law.

          1. Re: Steve,

            What is?

            Natural Law, Steve, otherwise what would be the point? If laws are not meant to protect our natural rights, then they are either superfluous or instruments of tyranny – you tell me which one is worse.

            1. natural? u mean like shria law?

      3. Seek help and leave us out of your drama.

  15. We do not discriminate against peedos in the gloriously multicultural state of Amerrorika. Every perspective (exception yours) is valid. Quit yer yappin, maybe the kideos will learn something. All my bitches now anywayz. Now where did I put my pimp cane, gotta press-confie thinging to blab at.

    BO the PIMP

  16. If only there were some sort of high profile constitutional scholar who lived in the Metro DC area, who could set an example. Like, for instance, he could enroll his own children in a public school, and take a high profile interest in the quality of the education they and all their classmates receive….

    1. Such an action would certainly be worthy of notice from the Nobel Committee.

  17. The LAW is the PIMP – bitches.

  18. “If only there were some sort of high profile constitutional scholar who lived in the Metro DC area,”

    Bitch – you gotz an attitude. Keep you nose outta PIMP’s world, and get back to sniffin ass like a good dog. Don’t forget to bring the money.

    Bitches in my house get it all PIMP-style.

  19. Right, who needs the rule of law?

    Apparently, incompetent teachers need it to prevent their worthless asses from being tossed into the street where they belong.

  20. If the state of inner city public education isn’t enough to make you despise the Democratic party, you don’t fucking give a shit about poor children.

    1. hummm…well education begins at home. so start there j sub

      1. GET A SOUL!!!!!!

  21. If you have a contract (remember contracts?) that says you will be notified in writing of the reasons for being fired, and you are fired without being notified, then the contract was violated. That was a pretty dumb thing to do on Rhee’s part.

    1. Don’t you get it, Spartacus? According to some commenters, the rule of law is irrelevant when we’re dealing with questions of Right and Wrong and Basic Common Sense.

      1. Collective bargaining for a public sector union is wrong. How’s that?

      2. I have to reluctantly agree. Otherwise we are into Friedman “China for a day” territory.

  22. As wylie goose steps into the arbitration hearing

    I’m pretty sure you missed the sarc tags.

  23. any competent administrator can follow due process.

    Spoken by someone who has never encountered a hypertrophied “due process” requirement.

    The kind of due process called for in things like union contracts has nothing to do with fairness. It is specifically (and well-) designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to be impossible to navigate without making one, single error.

    1. According to the article, a bunch of them were probationary teachers, which requires a whole lot less due process. In my local area–which is unionized–you don’t even need a reason to let probationary teachers go, just a written notice that their contracts will not be renewed. Maybe DC has more protection for new teachers, but probably not that much. It still sounds like sloppy administration.

      1. Right, we all agree the guy on death row is innocent and was placed in prison on trumped up charges and evidence *cough*based on sloppy administration*cough* but we’re gonna put him back in prison because his release didn’t follow protocol due to sloppy administration.

        1. bass ackwards, but keep the hate…

        2. Punctuation: Learn it. Use it.

          If I understand you correctly, your point is supposed to be that letting a fired worker back on the job because her firing violated procedure is JUST LIKE keeping someone on death row because his release didn’t follow procedure. Is that about right?

          One is a decision to err on the side of preserving someone’s rights, the other is a decision to err on the side of denying them. Can you see the difference?

  24. Turns out that blogging can get teachers fired too, but only in suburban districts.

    Pa. teacher strikes nerve with ‘lazy whiners’ blog
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/201…..ended_blog

    1. Well, she does have a point. Kids today are entirely too coddled and too much emphasis is placed on self-esteem and all that drivel. If the little shits are so smart, let them figure out a way to pay their own way while they still know everything.

      I know, I know…”Get off my lawn!”

  25. Hate the game, not the player.

    What a steaming pile of bullshit. I hate the lazy, the incompetent, and the disingenuous on their own merits.

  26. “My students are out of control,” Munroe, who has taught 10th, 11th and 12th grades, wrote in one post. “They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying.”

    “I learned it from you, Teach.”

  27. Wait a second, you mean there’s a place where they pay you to have sex with kids? And you don’t even have to show up to work after that? And the hoi polloi vote to keep these policies in place?

    And here I was trying to avoid the feds while working long hours as a CEO. Boy do I feel stupid!

  28. I went to Oberlin. This makes me happy. Actually, I’m kind of stunned.

  29. According to some commenters, the rule of law is irrelevant when we’re dealing with questions of Right and Wrong and Basic Common Sense.

    Ooh, exactly! You so smart!

  30. If you have a contract (remember contracts?)

    I do remember contracts. And I also remember some stuff about agency, and self-dealing.

    I also even know a little bit about regulatory capture.

    1. Wow, you know a lot!

      Just to get the obligatory stuff out of the way…

      Workers have a right to voluntarily band together to negotiate terms of employment, AND…
      Employers have an equal right to negotiate with them, or to tell them to get lost and hire someone else, BUT..
      Government should not get involved in this process, and has no business enacting rules/laws/whatever that unfairly advantage either side.

      OK, now that this is out of the way…

      Rhee can and should work to change the rules/laws/whatever, and to try and negotiate a better contract; she should be free to hire non-union teachers, but she apparently isn’t. In the meantime, there is an existing agreement, with included due process procedures, that she cannot simply ignore.

      I have no doubt that those people deserved to be fired. I also have no doubt that not doing it the “proper” way was a foolish and costly blunder.

  31. I also have no doubt that not doing it the “proper” way was a foolish and costly blunder.

    Rome wasn’t burned in a day.

  32. Investigate this!
    Rhee-form, edu-profiteers & sleazy, corrupt, HYPOCRISY

    What was helicopter-in
    Michelle Rhee’s ‘DAMAGE CONTROL’
    for (boyfriend) Kevin Johnson?
    note:
    Michelle Rhee was on the
    Sacramento school’s board of directors
    (and was “operations manager”/consultant)
    for Kevin Johnson’s privatized High School charter
    — during the time when
    there were financial illegalities
    & misappropriations of
    ($850,000) federal grants
    and also a pattern
    of outlandish sexual misconduct
    perpetrated by school director
    Kevin Johnson involving students (minor teens)
    & subordinate (Americorps) school staff —
    as documented by
    U.S. Govt. Inspector General
    Gerald Walpin.

    (crucial, must read) ==>
    http://washingtonexaminer.com/…..evin-johns

    also, more detailed
    info. =>
    http://www.washingtoncitypaper…..n-johnson/

    =========================

  33. Investigate this!
    Rhee-form, edu-profiteers & sleazy, corrupt, HYPOCRISY

    What was helicopter-in
    Michelle Rhee’s ‘DAMAGE CONTROL’
    for (boyfriend) Kevin Johnson?
    note:
    Michelle Rhee was on the
    Sacramento school’s board of directors
    (and was “operations manager”/consultant)
    for Kevin Johnson’s privatized High School charter
    — during the time when
    there were financial illegalities
    & misappropriations of
    ($850,000) federal grants
    and also a pattern
    of outlandish sexual misconduct
    perpetrated by school director
    Kevin Johnson involving students (minor teens)
    & subordinate (Americorps) school staff —
    as documented by
    U.S. Govt. Inspector General
    Gerald Walpin.

    (crucial, must read) ==>
    http://washingtonexaminer.com/…..evin-johns

    also, more detailed
    info. =>
    http://www.washingtoncitypaper…..n-johnson/

    ==============

  34. Well, at least those kids will be socialized properly.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.