New WTU Leaders Poised to Fight for Students
Margaret Summers | 8/7/2013, noon
Angela Thompson-Murphy, a self-described excessed teacher formerly with Ward 8’s Patterson Elementary School in Southeast, charged that public schools closed in Wards 7 and 8 “were closed for no rhyme or reason other than that they were in Wards 7 and 8. Then charter schools move into school buildings that closed.”
“We’re fighting for quality veteran teachers,” Thompson-Murphy said. The mass layoffs of older teachers, female teachers, and teachers of color constitute “backdoor discrimination,” she said.
Eugene Branch, Jr., 43, who grew up in Southeast and teaches at H.D. Cooke Elementary School in Ward 1, previously taught in Virginia. “The District’s teacher professional development program is the weakest I’ve ever seen,” he said. “People who only have two to three years of teaching experience try to instruct teachers who have taught for 20 to 30 years.” Branch, who has taught teacher recertification classes, suggested to Davis and Peterson that such courses include training on IMPACT, a program system for accessing the performance of teachers and other school-based staff. “I’ve noticed that many veteran teachers don’t understand how IMPACT works,” he said. He also suggested that veteran teachers be trained to use computers as part of classroom instruction.
Davis said that under her leadership, the WTU will strive to mobilize the District around common education concerns. She said she has heard too many people say that the union exists to “protect bad teachers” or that it is only focused on higher teacher salaries. “We are poised to organize,” said Davis.
“We have access to 40,000 parents and 100 schools. We have to do our homework.”