In late February, 20 DCPS teachers got the good news that they were winners of the first annual Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Teaching. It came with a $5,000 award for each teacher and a swanky reception at the Smithsonian Castle to honor work that had been judged “highly effective” under the new IMPACT evaluation system. The prize was underwritten by Carlyle Group co-founder and managing director David Rubenstein, who wanted to establish another award to augment the $10,000 “Excellence in Teaching” prize he’d funded for seven educators at the “Standing Ovation” gala at the Kennedy Center in November.
But two months after the March 16 reception and nearly three after being notified, the 20 teachers are still waiting for their checks.
“They have been sending all types of e-mails with excuses,” said one award recipient, who asked to remain nameless to avoid getting crosswise with the District before the money comes. “The last one came today [May 16] stating that we might receive the money mid June! I would like for Mr. Rubenstein to know how DCPS is jerking us around.”
Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman, who reached Rubenstein in Beijing Tuesday, said the $100,000 was sent to the D.C. Public Education Fund--the nonprofit organization that handles philanthropic giving for DCPS-- on March 8. In an e-mail to teachers Monday, president and executive director Cate Swinburn said the money was moving through the pipeline, slowly. It sounds like they have a fighting chance of getting it in time for summer break.
“The required paperwork has moved on to the next phase and is currently being processed by the District Office of Budget and Planning,” Swinburn wrote. “It is expected that the DCPS CFO’s office [office of the chief financial officer] will be able to start loading the funds after May 27th. I still have not received a definitive date on which you will receive your award payments, but I have been told it will follow within a few weeks of May 27. Meaning that you should receive your award payments in mid-June.”
Swinburn told me today that while it would obviously be easier if the fund could cut the checks directly to the teachers, “there are safeguards in place regarding payment of public employees” that have to be observed.
“Everyone is focused on ensuring that the teachers get their much-deserved reward payments as soon as possible. And, we have learned from this process so that it is vastly streamlined the next time,” she said.