Washington, DC, schools chancellor Michelle Rhee is fast approaching a critical crossroads that will put her bold leadership to the test, as her showdown with the teachers union reaches the moment of truth. The Washington Post reports that union leaders are giving in to cries from older tenured teachers insecure about their professional abilities:
[Union president George] Parker said many older teachers believe that they have been targeted for dismissal by Rhee, who has proposed a two-tiered salary plan that would pay many instructors more than $100,000 annually in pay and performance bonuses.
Those choosing the “green tier” would be required to spend a year on probation, risking termination. Teachers have the option of selecting a “red tier” that would allow them to keep tenure and accept lower raises.
Union leaders can’t only be concerned about the promising young teachers in their midst. They have to fight for the interests of mediocre and overpaid teachers, too. It’s the nature of the beast.
Michelle Rhee is going to need a lot of focus, resolve, and determination to bring major innovation to one of the nation’s poorest school districts: promoting high-quality instruction as a priority for the district’s neediest and most disadvantaged students.
Will the interests of students win out? Stay tuned.