Wednesday, January 09, 2008

DC School Chancellor Gets Power to Fire School Employees

But she can only fire non-union employees according to the Washington Post.
Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee won the authority to terminate nonunion employees without cause. Additional emergency legislation allows her to take action immediately.

The legislation, which Rhee said will help create a "culture of accountability" in the school system, would reclassify about 490 of the more than 700 people in the central office. Rhee said she needs the authority to get rid of incompetent people much faster.

"Are you going to see a mass exodus of 488 people? No," Rhee said in an interview yesterday. "Will you quickly see people ineffective at their jobs move out? Yes."

Dissenting members Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) said that existing law gave Rhee the power to fire unproductive workers and that the council was discarding civil service rules that workers depend on to protect their jobs.
Civil service rules should not protect incompetence. These people are being paid with tax dollars (and a lot of federal tax dollars to boot) and they should be fired if they are not doing their jobs. It really is that simple and all the mumbo jumbo about civil service protections are just platitudes and pointless rhetoric. A civil service job comes with protections, but not life time employment.

Here is what the Washington Times said about the bill yesterday:
Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and her boss, Mayor Adrian Fenty, have had the tenacity to ask for what we can only believe others before them knew was necessary but didn't have the courage to demand — freedom to manage. Selecting people is policy and putting effective people in organizations yields effective policies. This age-old maxim applies to schools as much as it applies to industry.

One need not be a behavioral psychologist to understand that people are driven by rewards — and sanctions — which, when combined with skills and commitment — can unleash change and innovation that otherwise are squashed when there are no incentives.While these facts are hard to deny, school leaders like Mrs. Rhee have been handed an impossible job from year to year in D.C. as well as cities all over the country: Fix these schools but, oh, by the way, you have no control over personnel or their positions.

Yet improved learning outcomes will require more than just moving people between positions. Just ask the district's highest-achieving charter schools. They already know that being responsive to the differing needs of children is paramount to achievement. They also know that great schools require not only great people, but full budgetary control, flexibility in administrative rules and, of course, the buy-in that comes when parents choose those schools. Just ask Donald Hense, whose Friendship Public Charter Schools continue to exceed performance measures, are financially solvent and are over-subscribed.

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