After meeting with the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) Representative Assembly Tuesday, WTU President Nathan Saunders released the Union’s plan to address school closings and strengthen public education in light of District of Columbia Public Schools’ proposal to close of 20 public schools throughout the city.
“We acknowledge D.C. Public Schools’ responsibility to efficiently manage public school facilities and resources; nevertheless, we also have a responsibility to advocate for families including students and good teachers who will ultimately be displaced—through no fault of their own—but as a result of fiscal challenges and changes in school needs,” said WTU President Nathan A. Saunders.
“WTU’s plan forward not only addresses the more immediate challenges presented by proposed school closings, but also calls for a serious and thoughtful dialogue about the effects of market-driven education reform and renewing our commitment to support neighborhood schools as the primary source for educating our city’s children. We are sensitive that certain laws may ultimately result in students having less access to high-quality teachers and resources.”
WTU’s plan to address school closings and strengthen public education calls for education stakeholders to:
- Provide D.C. Public School Students a Well-Rounded Curriculum and Staff Support
All DCPS students—and not just some—deserve access to robust art, music, physical education, library and media programs with fulltime staff. The fiscal savings associated with proposed closed schools and improved efficiencies, must be earmarked for programmatic personnel in each school as a fixed-budget allocation for art, music, physical education, library and media personnel.
- Accommodate Displaced Personnel by Adjusting Hiring and End-of-the-Year Attrition While Strictly Adhering to Class Size Limits
To ensure that good teachers are not penalized for fiscal challenges, teachers with an effective or higher evaluation rating must follow students to their new neighborhood school to fill newly created positions. In addition, all teachers with an effective or higher evaluation rating must be placed at other schools before DCPS recruits or hires new teachers. Neighborhood schools with increased student enrollment as a result of school closings must adhere to class size limits to prevent classroom overcrowding for students in any grade.
- Renew Pledge to Support Public Education
All stakeholders—including the Mayor, City Council and the Chancellor—must renew their commitment to support public education as the primary source for educating the District’s children.
- Embrace the Right of Choice for Teachers
With many charter schools paying teachers lower wages amid reduced working conditions, charter school teachers must have the right to join the Union. Part of this trend is due to the fact that presently, charter school teachers are exempt from the Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act (CMPA) that requires collective bargaining. Legislative amendments are necessary to ensure that all teachers retain fair compensation and appropriate working conditions regardless of whether they teach at a traditional public school or charter school.
- Develop Budget Transparency and Accountability
Beginning in school year 2013-2014, DCPS must produce an easy to read, public-friendly budget to provide teachers, parents, students and the community at-large with financial information to hold local lawmakers accountable.