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Posted at 03:38 PM ET, 07/21/2008

Teacher Union Infighting Intensifies

The civil war inside the leadership of the Washington Teachers Union continues to rage.

WTU general vice president Nathan A. Saunders told the D.C. Wire today to "expect civil disobedience" at this evening's union executive board meeting when it takes up president George Parker's plan for membership to hear from him and Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee about contract negotiations in a series of sessions this week.

The board will meet from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Rhee is scheduled to speak to the group from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Saunders and Candi Peterson, another board member, say Parker improperly bypassed their group setting up the membership sessions, contending that there should be none until there is a tentative deal between the union and DCPS. The focus of negotiations is Rhee's proposal for a two-tiered salary system in which teachers could earn substantially more if they relinquished some seniority rights and assumed some accountability for test scores. Teachers could also choose to retain seniority and receive smaller raises.

Saunders and other union leaders are said to be opposed to any so-called "pay-for-performance" system. Parker said last week that he also opposes any plan that would link teacher pay solely to student achievement. But Saunders said Parker's private stance has been much closer to Rhee's view.

Saunders, who has a lawsuit pending against Parker for prohibiting him from speaking on behalf of the union, said the membership meetings, due to begin tomorrow, are Parker's attempt to sell a salary plan that only he and Rhee favor.

"This has been a private deal for the most part between George and Rhee," he said.

Board meetings in May and June were canceled, Peterson said, keeping the leadership group out of the loop. And Parker has no business providing Rhee a platform, she added, until the board has had a chance to look at an actual contract.

"The chancellor is not a part of that process," she said.

Bill Turque

By Marcia Davis  |  03:38 PM ET, 07/21/2008

Categories:  Education

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