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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Apr 30th 2010, 12:56 PM
I believe when you let corporations fund your schools and pay the merit pay bonuses of your teachers, you are giving them a big wide opening to exert power over public education.

It is starting in DC right now.

Foundations reserve right to pull funding if D.C. schools chief Rhee leaves

Image from New America site

The private foundations pledging to help finance raises and bonuses for D.C. teachers have placed themselves in the middle of the city's mayoral race with one of the conditions for their largesse: If Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee leaves, so could the money.

The private donors have told the District that they reserve the right to reconsider their $64.5 million pledge if leadership of the school system changes, further complicating a proposed labor contract that has generated controversy since Rhee and union leaders announced it this month.

That clause, yet to be publicly discussed by D.C. officials, is a standard feature of private grants. But it comes at the beginning of a primary campaign that could leave Rhee out of a job. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has staked much of his campaign on evidence of Rhee's success in improving schools. His opponent, D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, has sent mixed messages about retaining Rhee, telling reporters after his campaign kickoff Saturday that school reform and Rhee's presence are "not inextricably tied."

Who is going to pull their funding unless Michelle Rhee stays?

Should the foundations pull their funding after the agreement is finalized, the District could be liable for at least $21 million -- the amount of private money earmarked to pay teacher salaries. According to the contract, the Washington Teachers' Union could sue the city or seek arbitration for breach of contract.

The leadership condition, set out in letters to District officials from the Walton Family Foundation, the Robertson Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Broad Foundation, could also be a deal breaker for D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, who must certify that the money promised in the contract is available before the pact is approved by union membership and the D.C. Council.

Susan Ohanian has something to say about this at her blog under Outrages.

Strings attached to foundations' funding for D.C. teacher pay

Ohanian Comment: Will the teachers accept a contract written by the Wal-Mart/Waltons, prime public school detractors? Not to mention Broad, et al.

Isn't it interesting that the Wal-Mart/Walton goals are so closely aligned with Obama-Duncan education agenda?

This is the first attempt to embed private money in a public collective bargaining agreement and if the teachers agree to it, they are short-sighted beyond help. Or pity. Just let Michelle Rhea stomp all over them

Allowing corporations to fund merit pay for teachers is just another step on the path toward privatization of public education.

Washington Teachers Union President George Parker and DC Schools Chief Michelle Rhee announced a tentative agreement this week. Flanked by Mayor Adrian Fenty and AFT President Randi Weingarten, the two lined up behind a deal that would institute a privately funded merit pay plan while continuing to whittle away at teacher job security. Photo: Washington Teachers Union.

Across-the-board raises of 20 percent over five years (retroactive to 2007) and the merit pay system are to be funded to the tune of $65 million in private money from the anti-union Walton and Broad Foundations—and others. The unprecedented move to let private donors underwrite merit pay is Rhee’s attempt to show that D.C. schools are serious about upping test scores and tying teacher evaluations to them—a key criterion for winning federal money in the Race to the Top competition.

Rhee is a good investment for the foundations’ corporate-style overhaul of education, which seeks to bust the unions, dismantle schools, and turn them over to private charter operators. And this deal could protect her job.

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