Here is an open letter from Erich Martel, a retired DCPS teacher, concerning the firing (yet again) of over three hundred teachers. Please read and circulate.


May 11, 2012

Dear Chancellor Henderson and Mayor Gray,  (OPEN LETTER)

I am requesting the following re the 333 excessed teachers and the funding.

–     Place every teacher rated “highly effective,” “effective” or first time “minimally effective” in a budgeted DCPS vacancy for which the teacher is certified BEFORE you hire any new teachers

–     If a vacancy does not exist for an excessed teacher, restore the previous position,

I am requesting that YOU, with your existing authority under the DC Code and the DCMR, consult with these teachers and then place them in a vacancy or restore them to their FY12 positions.  Do not humiliate teachers who have been found “effective,” “highly effective” or first time “minimally effective.”

–     Honor the timetables of the contractual grievance process (which YOU rewrote), by hiring the necessary number of hearing officers and scheduling grievance hearings within the agreed-upon timeframes

Your decision to excess 333 DCPS teachers and cause approximately 133 or 40% to face likely termination was not based on a threatened budget deficit or the need to transfer staff to meet identified student learning needs.  Were that the case, you would have identified those needs and called on teachers to volunteer and then moved staff, by a fair set of criteria, to the school needing their certified and effective training.  Imagine how different the atmosphere and morale would be in DCPS.

Rather, the excess was designed to accomplish two goals:

1.   Save your and Michelle Rhee’s signature – and only – educational “reform”:  The unsuccessful IMPACT teacher evaluation system, (which includes teacher bonuses, master educators’ and IMPACT staff salaries, and teacher excessing costs.)

2.   Make DC taxpayers fund it, since the 3-year foundation grant ends September 30th

When the DCPS-WTU contract was signed in April 2010, it was revealed that the Arnold, Broad, Robertson and Walton Foundations, facilitated by Cate Swinburn, President of the DC Public Education Fund (DCPEF), arranged for three year grant of $63.75 million for teacher bonuses, “performance-based excessing, and salary increments.

In a March 30, 2010 letter to Chancellor Rhee, DCPEF President Cate Swinburn explained the conditions of the $63.75 million grant she had facilitated for DCPS:

“Given that the funding commitments were based on a belief that the proposed teachers’ contract will have a significant impact on the outcomes of your reform efforts, DCPS will be required to report on key metrics and outcomes, such as student achievement growth and teacher retention.  In the case that the anticipated outcomes are not being realized,the third party funders reserve the right to reconsider their support.”

The foundations apparently believed your, Rhee’s and Swinburn’s claim that student achievement would steadily grow, once IMPACT and a weakened contract would allow you identify the “highly effective” teachers to reward with cash bonuses, fire “ineffective” ones and hire recent college graduations to take their place.  Rhee listed 16 “predicted gains” for 2010 and 20 for 2011.  Because your and Rhee’s signature “reform” was grounded in belief, not evidence, the results were a disaster:

                        FY 2010:      you and Rhee achieved 1 out 16 predicted gains

                        FY2011:        you achieved 2 out of 20 predicted gains


(Please post these questions and your answers and supporting document on the DCPS website)

QUESTION:  Why did you continue to accept grants from the foundations when failed to achieve your predicted gains?

QUESTION:  Why did you appoint Cate Swinburn as Chief of Data and Accountability, with authority to select a reviewer of the alleged cheating on DC CAS in 2010, when she has an interest in the legitimacy of the legitimacy of the test results?

QUESTION:  Why did you fail to report to the Mayor, the Council and the public the failure of the IMPACT and excessing program to yield improved student performance?

QUESTION: Why are you continuing to use the IMPACT and excessing program after two years of evidence that they failed to yield “predicted gains” and resulted in hundreds of “effective” teachers being terminated?

Erich Martel

Retired DCPS Teacher (1969-2011)

Attachment:  Swinborn to Gandhi letters, 4/6/2010

cc:       US Department of Education

US Department of Labor

US House of Representatives, Government Oversight Committee

Chairman and Members, Council of the District of Columbia



If you would like to read those agreements between those wealthy donors and DCPS, some signed by the same Cate Swinburn, then follow this link.
Published in: on May 12, 2012 at 4:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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