The three principal players in the D.C. teachers' contract talks--Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten and Washington Teachers Union president George Parker-- displayed a rare united front yesterday evening to pay tribute the 20 DCPS instructors who recently won certification from the prestigious National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
Rhee, joining Parker and Weingarten at AFT's New Jersey Avenue headquarters, continued to hit the notes she struck in her Post op-ed piece this week, part of what union insiders describe as an effort to soften her image with a District teacher corps shaken by her stated intent to fire significant numbers of instructors.
According to WTU spokeswoman Monique LeNoir, Rhee praised the newly certified instructors and said any notion that she was hostile to teachers has been created by the media.
Rhee also has taken steps to refute the union claim that she has targeted older teachers for 90-day intervention plans requiring them to improve their performance or face dismissal.
In a letter to D.C. Councilmember Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), Rhee offered a breakdown-by-service of the 157 teachers in 54 schools who have been placed on 90-day plans. She said 55 percent have 10 years experience or less; 19 percent between 11 and 20 years, and 19 percent more than 20 years. Seven percent of teachers are in a category Rhee called "unknown or unclear years of experience."
The 20 teachers (the three non-union charter school teachers who won certification were not present), who passed a rigorous one-to-three-year program of course work, essays and self-reflection, each received a $4,000 check from D.C.P.S. They bring the number of board-certified teachers in the District to 47. Since 1987, about 74,000 teachers in the United States have received certification. The teachers honored were:
Marie Fonrose (Anacostia High School)
John Mahoney (Banneker High School)
Kathleen Brinkman (Banneker High School)
Mark Hannum (Banneker High School)
E. Kane (Bell High School)
Viky Sosa (Bell High School)
Courtney Daignault (Miner Elementary School)
Shannon Foster (Miner Elementary School)
Victoria Pearson (Miner Elementary School)
Tashima Hawkins (Murch Elementary School)
Kelly Barnes (Oyster Elementary School)
Wendy Reeve (Oyster Elementary School)
Tondra Odom-Owens (Savoy Elementary School)
Carlton Ackerman (School Without Walls)
Heather Pultz (School Without Walls)
Jenine Pokorak (School Without Walls)
Ellen Saunders (Thomson Elementary School)
Jennifer Geoffroy (Truesdell Elementary School)
Kristina Tharpe (Truesdell Elementary School)
Amy Wertheimer (Watkins Elementary School)