DENVER—-This afternoon, schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee said there’s a “Plan B” in place should D.C. Public Schools teachers fail to ratify the controversial two-tier contract currently under negotiations. Rhee told the crowd that she expects to have negotiations on the reform contract concluded within two weeks and ready for a vote by the Washington Teachers’ Union membership, LL has been told.
Her comments came during a panel discussion on education reform here in Denver with Michael Bennet, superintendent of Denver’s public schools, and other public education reform leaders. On a separate panel, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty spoke about his takeover of DCPS with New York City schools chief Joel I. Klein, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, and others. The event was sponsored by a coalition of more than three dozen education reform and charter school organizations.
LL, unfortunately, did not arrive in town in time for Rhee and Fenty’s appearances. But two members of the D.C. delegation—-alternate national committeeman Jim Bubar and voting rights scholar William Washington—-attended and report to LL that Rhee and Fenty received a warm response from a overflowing auditorium at the Denver Art Museum, with over 100 in attendance.
Rhee’s comments mark the first time that she’s publicly mentioned the possibility that a reform contract might not be approved. Perhaps, LL speculates, she was chastened by the “Welcome Back” event on Friday, where hundreds of teachers jeered the prospect of such a contract even coming to a vote.
Rhee and Fenty, Bubar says, were very much the “centerpiece” of the program.
Washington, who recently graduated from Wilson Senior High School and will be attending Catholic University in the fall, says that Rhee and Fenty focused on the steps necessary to begin fixing a troubled schools system—-energy and accountability.
Asked to predict the winner in November, all the panelists predicted an Obama victory in front of the partisan crowd. (Though Rhee, in the past, has expressed her preference for the McCain education plan.)
UPDATE, 9:28 P.M.: Nakamura, who was actually there, has more.