WTU’s Frustrations Boil Over with No-Confidence Resolution

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For Immediate Release
October 13, 2021


Contact:
Jacqueline Pogue Lyons
[email protected]
202-517-1477

 

WTU’s Frustrations Boil Over with No-Confidence Resolution

Membership Upset Over School Reopening Concerns, Protracted Contract Negotiations, No Action on IMPACT Evaluation Changes


WASHINGTON—Frustration with District of Columbia leadership over school building safety, protracted contract negotiations and inaction on IMPACT evaluation changes boiled over this week with Washington Teachers’ Union members voting that they have no confidence in city leaders.


“This is what happens when teachers raise legitimate concerns that affect students and teachers, but then time passes and nothing gets done. We need a relationship with city and school district leaders built on respect and mutual trust, and that means addressing problems together in a timely way,” said WTU President Jacqueline Pogue Lyons.


At a meeting Tuesday evening, WTU delegates passed a resolution of no confidence in city and school leadership, primarily calling them out for reopening schools that were not fully safe. These include reopening schools without fully functional HVAC systems and inadequate filters where students are regularly present, failing to recognize the need for a virtual option despite accommodations made for charter schools, and underfunding mental health and social and emotional support for students and staff dealing with trauma related to the pandemic and record-setting shootings in the city.


Pogue Lyons also said teachers are exacerbated by protracted negotiations over a contract that expired in September 2019 and inaction on changing the flawed IMPACT evaluation system, which research has shown is not helpful, actually hurts teachers’ well-being and is racial biased.


“Our teachers went above and beyond during the height of the pandemic to make sure their students got a quality education. They were excited to go back to school in person this fall despite their concerns regarding the continued spread of the virus, and yet the district is slow-walking negotiations. Teachers feel terribly disrespected and have had it with district leadership. This resolution reflects their deep frustration,” Pogue Lyons said.


She also said that the city is failing to work to resolve a serious teacher shortage and retention problem. “If the city refuses to recognize the problem and work with the WTU to improve it, the situation could turn into a major crisis. This is bad for students and bad for our schools and community.”

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You can download a copy of the release here.

 

 


WTU Responds to ‘Inadequate’ DCPS Evaluation System Fixes

 

For Immediate Release
Aug. 13, 2021

 

 

WTU Responds to ‘Inadequate’ DCPS Evaluation System Fixes


WASHINGTON—The Washington Teachers’ Union today called the District of Columbia Public School’s solutions to fix the IMPACT evaluation system ‘monumentally weak’ and unresponsive to the numerous flaws raised by teachers and an American University report on the system.

DCPS sent a letter directly to educators that outlined its analysis of surveys of teachers and school leaders and the AU report on the IMPACT system.

In the union’s response to members, WTU President Jacqueline Pogue Lyons said: “We believe that the DCPS document distorts the data collected from teachers and school leaders and glosses over what the American University research actually found—that IMPACT is not working, is stressing teachers out and is punitive rather than helpful to improve performance.” She also called out DCPS’s “evolutions,” which apparently are solutions, saying they are “monumentally weak and do not adequately respond to the finding.”
Pogue Lyons said: “It’s stunning that DCPS clings to a fatally flawed, unfair evaluation system when there are so many effective models that we could adapt that actually help teachers and students and aren’t punitive or cause anxiety.”

AU’s summary of findings included:

  • “Overall perceptions of IMPACT were more negative than positive, but with a great deal of variation in perspectives across teachers as well as school leaders.”
  • “Many teachers and school leaders perceived that IMPACT created an unhealthy environment of distrust, fear and competitiveness in schools that trickles down into the classroom.”
  • “Subjectivity, bias and gaming the system were all cited as threats to validity in teacher interviews, in school leader focus groups, and in the school leader survey.”
  • And it found that “teachers perceived that the high-stakes and anxiety-producing environment may cause them (or others) to leave DCPS.”

Pogue Lyons said DCPS does not adequately address these issues.

WTU has been fighting for years to either comprehensively revise IMPACT or throw it out and start from scratch, with WTU as a full partner in the creation of a new teacher development and evaluation system.

“We need a dynamic teacher development and evaluation system that focuses on continuous improvement of instruction and learning in all classrooms, not a small portion,” Pogue Lyon’s letter to members said. “We need a system that provides ongoing supports dedicated not only to improving academics and instruction but also to lifting up each student.”

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You can download the statement here.

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WTU President Jacqueline Pogue Lyons on DCPS Teacher Vaccine Mandate

WASHINGTON—Statement by Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, president of the Washington Teachers’ Union, on the new mandate requiring District of Columbia Public School teachers and other school staff to be vaccinated or be regularly tested at the city’s expense and with no penalty for taking time off to be tested:


“The get-vaccinated-or-be-tested mandate is the right protocol for DCPS educators and school staff, though most already have been vaccinated. Now that we’ll be back in school buildings, it’s important for educators to be healthy so they can provide in-person instruction to students five days a week. We also strongly urge all children 12 years and older and their families to get vaccinated. The Delta variant has thrown us a curveball, and we need to do everything we can to keep our school community protected.

“The vaccine policy, as we understand it, will ensure that no employee is subject to discipline as long as they either are fully vaccinated or submit weekly test results. Testing will be available in the workplace or can be done during work hours for employees who need it.

“While we support this policy, the WTU has a right to bargain with the school district over vaccination policies and how they will be implemented, now and in the future. We disagree with the city’s claim that this policy is not subject to bargaining, and we will not hesitate to enforce our bargaining rights if DCPS takes action that is not in the best interest of educators, students and the community.

“It’s been a long year and a half, and we can’t wait to see students and do everything we can to help them thrive in the new school year.”

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Re-Opening District of Columbia Public Schools

Council of the District of Columbia

Committee of the Whole Public Oversight Roundtable

Statement by Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President

Washington Teachers' Union

on the Re-Opening District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and District of Columbia Public Charter Schools (DCPCS) for School Year 2021-2022

 

 

Good afternoon. I am Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President of the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU).

Everyone is anxious for schools to reopen this fall. After more than a year of being away from our school buildings because of the public health pandemic, it’s imperative that students and teachers get back to school.

Our schools must fully reopen.

But my worst fear is that we fail to protect our youths and our community from the still-deadly coronavirus, especially with the surge of the Delta variant and the emerging Epsilon variant of the disease in our communities. We must ensure protections are in place to prevent students from being exposed and potentially carrying the disease back into their family.

And, we must also prevent disruptions to learning, including when a student is exposed to the virus and will be required to quarantine at home. This is hard on everyone – the student, their families, and our teachers – and it creates tremendous disruptions to learning and student mental health. The last thing that educators want to do is see a student sent home, or for a classroom or our schools close again.

Today, as I sit here before you, I do not believe that we have done enough to protect our students from the coronavirus. We can do more to help prevent exposure in our schools.

 

You can download and read the full statement here.

 

 

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FY22 Budget Testimony

Council of the District of Columbia

Fiscal Year 2022 Budget

June 3, 2021

 

Testimony of Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President

Washington Teachers’ Union - AFT Local 6

 

Good afternoon. I am Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President of the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU). I have taught in public schools across Washington, D.C. for twenty-eight years. My last teaching assignment was as a kindergarten teacher in Savoy Elementary. As president of the WTU, I am committed to fighting for social and educational justice for the students of the District of Columbia as well as the well-being of District teachers.

The last year has been trying for us all. Teachers were thrust into new learning environments, required to learn and adapt to new technologies on a dime with minimal training or preparation. With the suspension of the District’s seat time requirement, we’re seeing DCPS report strong attendance data; however, in many school communities teachers are reporting to the WTU that their classroom attendance is miniscule, whether their students are supposed to be attending in-person or virtually. We recognized that we will have a lot of work ahead of us.

 

You can download our full statement here.

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Read In for School Librarians

For Immediate Release

June 1, 2021 

 

Media Advisory

Educators and Parents to Rally for School Librarians

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Achievement gaps across the District of Columbia are stark and growing; we can expect gaps to have further increased due to COVID-19. Yet, DCPS school budgets continue to fall short of the need, forcing schools serving high percentages of at-risk students to eliminate instructional positions, including librarians, in their local school budgets.

WHO:    Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President, Washington Teachers’ Union

Zachery Parker, President, DC State Board of Education

Frazier O’Leary, Ward 4 Representative, DC State Board of Education

Allister Chang, Ward 2 Representative, DC State Board of Education

Jessica Sutter, Ward 6 Representative, DC State Board of Education

Suzanne Wells, President, Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization

Julius Jefferson, Jr., President, American Library Association

WHAT:   Read In to Save School Libraries and increase investment in Literacy programming in the District’s FY2022 Budget

WHEN:   Wednesday, June 2 at 4:00 pm

WHERE:  John A. Wilson Building (Front Steps)

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20004

 

As Council of the District of Columbia considers Mayor Bowser’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget, the Washington Teachers’ Union is calling for increased investments in school communities to reduce the District’s achievement gaps by reducing class size, implementing co-teacher and collaborative teaching models, and ensuring there is a librarian in every school. To draw attention to the need to invest in well-rounded literacy programming, school librarians and other educators will be reading to students on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building.

Librarians partner with classroom teachers to provide equitable access to reading materials and co-teach resource-rich literacy. When schools have high-quality library programs and librarians who share their expertise with the entire school community, student achievement gets a boost. Librarians also close the Information Literacy Gap with high school students. The event is supported by District of Columbia Library Association, EveryLibrary, Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and the American Library Association.

 

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The Media Advisory is available for download here.

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Testimony - Special Committee on Pandemic Recovery

Council of the District of Columbia

Special Committee on COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery

 

Joint Public Hearing on the District’s Public Education System as it Emerges from the Public Health Emergency

 

May 26, 2021

 

Testimony of Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President

Washington Teachers’ Union

AFT Local 6

 

Good afternoon. I am Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President of the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU). I’d like to thank the Council, educators and the broader community for the outpouring of support that myself and the WTU received following the passing of President Elizabeth Davis earlier this year. As you know, Liz was a tireless and passionate advocate for our city’s educators and its students. As I appear before you today, I want to stress that her legacy of fighting for social and educational justice for the students of the District of Columbia will continue under my leadership of the Washington Teachers’ Union.

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DC Educator Wellness Center

In partnership with EVERFI, a social impact educational technology company, the WTU is pleased to announce the launch of the DC Educator Wellness Center. The funding for the DC Educator Wellness Center is provided by Johnson & Johnson.

In the DC Educator Wellness Center DC Educators will find access to a prevention-forward, self-guided, digital microlearning experience designed to provide you with on-demand content related to mental health. The growing list of topics includes Mental Health Basics, Managing Mental Health Challenges, Developing Resilience, Supporting Loved Ones With Mental Health Challenges, and Mindful Living.

 

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