WTU News and Information 
FEBRUARY 7, 2016
Representative Assembly Meeting

Tuesday, February 9
4:30 pm 
McKinley Tech High School 

AGENDA: 
  •  DCPS' Extended Year Plan
  • Contract review of Priority Language/Open Forum on next contract topic: Salaries and Benefits
  • Voting for the Election  Committee & Delegates to AFT Convention, MD-DC AFL-CIO Convention
"Getting to Know 
Your Union" Member Education Series:
Legal Updates and Wins &
Understanding the WTU Constitution

Building reps should bring their school rosters to verify their chapter members for contract ratification. Only full members can vote on the contract.


ALL MEMBERS ARE WELCOME!

You don't want to miss! 
WTU Free Community Education and  Shared Vision Conference on Saturday,
Feb. 20 at the Kellogg Center at Gallaudet University

Don't miss this exciting one-day community conference and rich opportunity to join teachers, parents, city officials, community leaders and national educational experts as we learn and talk about our shared vision for reclaiming the promise of public education in our city
 
Click here to view the full conference program
and to register for
Shared Vision 2016:
 

CELEBRATE
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
WITH CURRICULUM
LESSON PLANS AND
O
THER RESOURCES FROM
SHARE MY LESSON

DC High School Talent Hunt

The Washington D.C. Area Chapters of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity is hosting a DC High School Talent Hunt Competition. Any student that wishes to participate must audition March 5th at Paul Public Charter High School. All students passing the audition will perform at the Talent Hunt program on March 26th at Paul Public Charter High School.

Participants will compete in the four categories: Dance, Drama, Vocal, and Instrumental. There will be cash prizes awarded for the winner of each category. There will also be a cash stipend awarded for each participant.

The DC High School Talent Hunt Competition is limited to students that attend D.C. public schools.

Call this number 703-829-5783 or go HERE for an application and more information

 
  
  
    
Our website features important and informative WTU and DCPS forms/ documents.
 
Check them out!

L ooking for a Career Opportunity? 
to View the DCPS Vacancy List for 2015-16 

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@WTUTeacher is growing!
Quick Links
President's Message
Extended Day Has Not Worked in DCPS! So, Why Are We Now Extending the School Year As a School Reform Strategy? 
Elizabeth A. Davis
  
 
On Feb. 3, Mayor Bowser and Chancellor Henderson announced that 10 D.C. schools would have an extended year beginning with the 2016-17 school year.

The WTU has filed a grievance against DCPS efforts to extend the school day in violation of the union's contract. Read it HERE.

Here is President Davis's response to the extended school year proposal.
 
 
Members of the Washington Teachers' Union continue to ask, "Are we talking about extended year or extended learning?" The WTU knows the difference and wants what works for kids. Teachers are not against extended learning opportunities for our students. In fact, we think it is a good idea. But the district's plan for extended learning is short-sighted and not very well informed.
 
The district has struggled to improve the educational outcomes for the children in the most need. We have done all the top-down, "my way or the highway" reforms dictated by the school district. Frankly, they haven't worked--kids in the highest need are not making progress. So we are more than a bit skeptical that another top-down mandate will yield different results. It is simply more of the same. We don't just need another new program in schools; we need a new way of doing business!
 
It's time the district stops its random acts of improvement and start working as a system of professionals. D.C. Public Schools must reinvent the way it works with its teachers, principals, parents and the community. They need to start seeing these critical partners as crucial, irreplaceable parts of the system. This should not be a debate over more versus less time. It should be a collaboration focused on how we reinvent the current school day and what needs to be extended to be more efficient and productive.

READ MORE HERE

READ THE WTU PRESS RELEASE 
 
Contract talks progressing; WTU puts forth its priorities
Led by President Davis, negotiators for the WTU are working diligently to reach a tentative contract agreement with DCPS as soon as possible. With the help of a mediator, talks are steadily progressing.
 
In an effort to move contract negotiations forward as quickly as possible, both sides were recently asked to put forth their top priorities.


Notice from the
WTU Elections Committee
Election of the Elections Committee, Delegates to the American Federation of Teachers and Maryland/DC AFL-CIO on February 9, 2016, at McKinley HS

The election of the WTU Elections Committee and Delegates to the American Federation of Teachers Convention and Delegates to the DC/Maryland AFL-CIO Convention will be held on February 9, 2016, 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm in the McKinley Technology High School cafeteria, located at 151 T Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002.
 
All full-dues WTU members (paying $36.08 per pay period) and in good standing are eligible to vote. The election will be conducted by secret ballot in accordance with the WTU Constitution and By-Laws.
 
In order to vote, full-dues members are required to show a WTU Full Member card or copy of a recent DCPS paystub and driver's license on the date of voting.
 
Space for write-ins will be available on the ballot. 

Here are the eligible and ineligible petitioners as validated by the current Elections Committee. 
 
Eligible and Ineligible Candidates as Validated by 
the WTU Elections Committee
Petitions Submitted on April 30, 2015 
Verified by the Elections Committee on 
January 14, 2016
Eligible Candidates
Maria Angala, Anacostia SH 
Olubusola Ayangbesan, Brightwood EC 
LaToya Dutton Hecker, Walker Jones EC 
Rajeeni Galloway, Reed EC 
Teresa Gasaway, Garrison ES 
Koura Gibson, Sousa MS 
Cheryl Gillette, River Terrace EC 
Jacqueline Hines, Murch ES 
Alicia Hunter, Wilson SH 
Chandrai Jackson Saunders, Thomas ES 
Concha Johnson, Whittier EC 
Cheryl Miller, Takoma EC 
Angela Murphy, Retired Teacher 
Shakera Oliver, Brightwood EC 
Candi Peterson, WTU General Vice President 
Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, Savoy ES 
Frann Robertson, Leckie ES 
Nathan Saunders, Anacostia SH 
LeRoy Taylor, Jr., River Terrace ES 
Diane Terrell, Stoddert ES 
Constance Williams, Randle Highlands ES 
Melina Willoughby, Garfield ES
Ineligible Candidates
Marva Boatman, Retired Teacher 
Audrey Hudson, Retired Teacher 
Signe Nelson, Whittier EC
Challenges and concerns pertaining to the candidates or the elections process should be emailed to the WTU Elections Committee at:  wtuelectionscommittee@gmail.com
.
For general information, contact the WTU at:  dialogue@wtulocal6.net.

Widespread concerns raised
about ASPEN grading system

Averaging of grades is at the center of the problem

The WTU has received numerous complaints from teachers regarding the ASPEN grading protocol. The concerns center on teachers' fear that the "automatic" averaging of grades by the ASPEN computer program may be both inflating grades and possibly passing students who failed to meet course requirements. Pres. Davis recently sent this letter regarding ASPEN to DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. 

Dear Chancellor Henderson,
Widespread concerns have been raised by teachers about ASPEN, the new DCPS grading protocol.
Previously, when teachers entered grades, they did so for each marking term, the final exam, and the final grade. Under the new grading protocol and policy, DCPS teachers cannot enter in the final grade. The ASPEN computer program does so automatically by "averaging" the previous grades without the teachers' input. In fact, teachers are unable to even see the final grade that is generated. 
The problem is that when teachers enter letter grades, the system averages letters, not numbers. As you know, letter grades represent a range of grades. For example, under DCPS policy, an A is a 93%--100% while an F is 0%--63%. Despite this range, DCPS has chosen an A to equal 100% and an F to equal 63% in ASPEN. Teachers fear that this process may inflate grades that are put into the system by teachers who are unable to appeal or fix the problem later.  In some instances, teachers have indicated that the ASPEN grading protocol is an inaccurate method for averaging grades. I have attached a print out from ASPEN that shows the value that is given to each letter grade.
Another very serious concern raised by some teachers is the possibility of them unknowingly being cited as accessories to fraudulently passing students who failed to meet course requirements. Teachers have reported that they currently are not allowed to enter, view or change final grades for students. There is concern that students may be inadvertently passed, without the teachers' knowledge and without the teacher having any process for appealing mistakes made by the system. To some of our members, the process appears to be extremely deceitful and undermines teachers' control over their grades.
Although final grades have already been submitted this week for all semester courses, this matter must be addressed as soon as possible to prevent any liability against teachers or the school district related to our grading policies.
Sincerely, 
Elizabeth Davis
WTU "Read-Alouds" honor Dr. King

On January 15, WTU leaders and staff honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with read-alouds in schools across the city. The book "Martin's Big Words" was read to students, and students received a free copy of the book courtesy of First Book.
 
 
     
 
Pres. Davis testifies on Every Student Succeeds Act

WTU President Elizabeth Davis told a U.S. Department of Education hearing on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that any guidance or regulations related to the new law "is workable in America's classrooms and supportive of our educators."

Signed into law by President Obama in December, ESSA replaces the federal No Child Left Behind Act. "The law clearly shows that the voices of educators have been heard," said Davis, adding that it is now up to states and school districts to take advantage of the opportunity ESSA provides to create systems in which, among other things, teacher evaluations are used to grow and strengthen the profession, not sort and punish.

She also called for ensuring that classroom teachers have the resources, working conditions and voice they need to be successful. The new law, she noted, allows places like DC to have fewer and better tests. "The first opportunity is that we can eliminate some of the tests that serve a primary purpose of evaluating teachers."

Davis said she was also hopeful that DC will have an opportunity to develop and implement a teacher evaluation system that truly supports student learning and educator development.
WTU to receive DC Metro AFL-CIO's top organizing award
 
The  Metro Washington Council, AFL-CIO  will present the WTU with its top organizing award at this year's Evening with Labor on Saturday, March 12.
  
The  Metro Washington Council, AFL-CIO said this about the WTU:   "For the second year in a row, Local 6 has signed up hundreds of new members; Over 1,000 new teachers turned out for the DCPS New Teacher Orientation at the Columbia Heights Education Campus in mid-August and more than 700 of the new teachers took advantage of the opportunity to sign on as full dues paying members of the WTU. The union signed up over 1000 new members in 2014."
 
Under the leadership of President Elizabeth Davis, the WTU has aggressively recruited and mobilized teachers in schools across the city. This award is a reflection of that effort as well as the Davis Administration's commitment to growing the WTU--and strengthening the voice of classroom teachers.

WTU will share this great honor with building reps who have 100% full dues membership at their schools. Invitations to the "Evening with Labor" on March 12 will be emailed to these local school union leaders at the beginning of March. 
Take this IMPACT survey... 
and take control of your future!
The WTU wants your feedback! By taking this survey and sharing your experiences, you can contribute to improving the IMPACT evaluation system. We're not asking for any personal information. All we want is your opinion on how the process respected you as a professional. 

The survey has 28 questions on TAS, CSC and Core Professionalism. Comments are optional. Without comments you should be able to complete the survey in less than 5 minutes.
 
Go  HERE  to the Our Issues page on the WTU website to take the survey.
WTU urges City Council to oppose plan to
take sick days away from substitute teachers


On Jan. 29, President Davis testified before the Education Committee of the DC on the Substitute Teacher Leave Clarification Amendment Act of 2015. She used the opportunity to strongly oppose legislation that would take away sick days from nearly all substitute teachers.
"As a highly effective career educator who has taught in at least seven schools in the most underserved communities in the District, I have come to know and respect the value of having access to highly qualified, dedicated substitute teachers," Davis testified.
"If this bill passes as introduced, substitute teachers will only be able to start accruing sick days after they have worked 30 consecutive days and potentially would lose those sick days as soon as their consecutive streak went below 30. There are more than 900 substitute teachers in DC. The denial of sick leave to these teachers correlates a significant health risk to children, teachers, parents and other school workers."

WTU joins in rally at U.S. Supreme Court to add its
voic
e in opposition to effort to gut barg aining rights
Active and retired WTU members rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court. 
When corporate CEOs and wealthy special interests succeed at manipulating the rules to make it harder for teachers and other workers to negotiate for fair wages and benefits everyone suffers.
But that's exactly what's at stake as the U.S. Supreme Court considers the Friedrichs v. CTA case. On January 11, the WTU joined with other unions and concerned citizens to protest
Friedrichs, which would damage the protections provided for hard working families and their communities by gutting collective bargaining rights, and jeopardizing the ability of WTU and others to work together for better schools and public services.

Pres. Davis is interviewed about 
the Friedrich's case. 
WTU urged DCPS to give teachers same "discretion"
given to families and students regarding snowstorm
Union received complaints from
members about difficulty getting to work
When DCPS reopened schools on Jan. 27 following the massive snowstorm , President Elizabeth Davis wrote to DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson urging her to give teachers the same discretion to stay home that day as was given by DCPS to families and students. The road conditions and the limited and unpredictable bus and train schedule would make it virtually impossible for many teachers and other school staff to get to work safely and on time, Davis noted.
 
"Does DCPS plan to excuse teachers who report late or cannot make it into school safely tomorrow?" the WTU president asked in her Jan. 26 letter to the chancellor.
 
In a follow-up to her first letter to the chancellor, Pres. Davis recommended that DCPS  "extend the liberal leave policy, given the severe weather conditions, to teachers and other school workers , or at least mandate a two hour delay for teachers and other school workers."
 
Not surprisingly, WTU received emails and calls from dozens of members complaining about  the difficulty they faced getting to and from work on Jan. 27. There were  also complaints about  limited teacher parking and access to buildings , demonstrating an overall lack of readiness.
Delegation of educators from China visit the WTU
Testing and teacher assignments among topics discussed 
 
In December, President Davis met with a delegation of educators from the Beijing-Changping district in China. Among the issues that the delegation from China wanted to discuss was the use of testing in D.C. schools and how experienced, seasoned teachers are assigned to schools. Davis and the visitors from China also talked about the role that critical thinking plays in educating American students.
 
A follow-up letter sent by a member of the delegation thanked the WTU president for the overview of K-12 education in D.C. and some of the major reforms taking place in the District.
 
"On both a professional and a personal level, we really appreciated the time that we spent together with you. It certainly taught us a lot about the education system in DC," the letter to President Davis said.


Should D.C. students be able to "test out" of any class?
New OSSE regs devalue what is learned in the classroom 

Last fall, the State Board of Education convened a Task Force on Credit Flexibility that brought together education leaders from across the city to hammer out recommendations that would give high schools greater flexibility to offer students different ways to earn high school credit.

WTU President Elizabeth Davis, and WTU members Laura Fuchs and David Tansey, were among the 20+ members of the Task Force, which also included representatives of DCPS, the Public Charter School Board, the Deputy Mayor of Education, individual charter schools, and members of the State Board of Education.

The final recommendations included various proposals, the full list of which can be seen at HERE.

Among the recommendations was a proposal that students could "test out" of math and foreign language classes, both of which are very sequenced classes with highly defined, finite content. If you already speak Spanish fluently, there really is no point in taking Spanish 1!

But, the Task Force drew the line there. Following many discussions and compromises, it agreed that students should not be testing out of other courses. As various task force members pointed out, reducing other courses to just a test devalues what is learned in a class, with peers and teachers.

Plus, the Task Force report called for allowing high schools to apply for waivers that would allow them to offer courses that didn't meet the strict and sometimes restrictive requirements of the Carnegie unit.

Unfortunately, instead of following the recommendation of the State Board of Education's Task Force, OSSE has proposed a regulation that would allow students to test out of any high school course.

Help overturn this regulation!!!


1. The State Board of Education can disapprove OSSE's rule. Please email your State Board of Education member and encourage him/her to stick with the original recommendation of the Task Force. Their offices can also be reached at (202) 741-0888. Ask for the office of the state board member who represents the ward you live and/or work in.
2. Send in a formal comment to OSSE. You can find the actual proposed regulation and a comment form HERE. The comments must be made before February 20.
3. Consider testifying at the State Board of Education meeting on February 17.
For more information on this, contact the WTU at dialogue@wtulocal6.net