A spokeswoman for D.C. Council Chairman and mayoral hopeful Vince Gray said Gray is waiting to learn more about the “basis” for the firing of 241 underperforming teachers before the chairman officially comments.
“Gray is in contact with (schools Chancellor) Michelle Rhee concerning the dismissals,” Gray spokeswoman Traci Hughes told The Washington Examiner on Friday. “He is waiting to hear more concerning the basis of those layoffs before making any official statement.”
Gray is in a tough spot. He can’t hit the Fenty Administration head on over the firing of the poor-performing teachers; both he and the mayor support school reform and getting rid of bad teachers is part of both of their platforms.
Hughes’ comments, however, give a hint as to where Gray might be heading when finally does take a stand. His best bet is to challenge the validity of the teacher evaluations and hope Fenty darts behind the wall of private personnel matters. Last fall, Rhee and Fenty did just that when the chancellor fired 266 teachers, claimed some of them had sex with students, and then would neither say how many nor name them, citing that it was a personnel matter.
Any lack of transparency by Team Fenty on these firings could play into Gray’s hands.
Teacher evaluations have been under fire nationally, particularly from unions that say the evaluations are often unfair and inaccurate. Gray will likely be able to get support from the union for any move he makes in that direction.