In teacher firings, Michelle Rhee didn't play by the rules

Monday, February 14, 2011; 2:47 PM

The Feb. 11 editorial "What does it take to fire a teacher?" was quick to question why arbitrator Charles Feigenbaum would reinstate 75 "bad teachers." It sadly and predictably missed the most important point of the ruling. Mr. Feigenbaum made clear that former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee never told fired teachers why they were dismissed. She ran a secret black box program when it came to firing the teachers, saying, "Trust me, I know best." She found it acceptable to dismiss 75 teachers without providing notice, reason, opportunity to demonstrate remediation or opportunity to be heard.

This is yet another glaring example of why her "my way or the highway" management style was not good for students or teachers. The consequences of this style continue to create great injustice within our system - for our community's children and for those who work to make a difference every day in our children's lives.

Ms. Rhee often believed she was above the rules. Thankfully, an arbitrator reminded her - and all of us - that no matter who we are, we must play by the rules.

Randi Weingarten and Nathan A. Saunders, Washington

The writers are, respectively, president of the American Federation of Teachers and president of the Washington Teachers' Union.

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