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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

DCPS Teacher Announces Candidacy for WTU Presidency

Chris Bergfalk, a finalist for DCPS teacher of the year in 2009, announced his candidacy for president of the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) yesterday on "More Room on the Outside."  Bergfalk has been a strong critic of Michele Rhee's reform, consistently pointing to flaws in Rhee and Fenty's spending priorities.  In an interview with Pete Tucker, Bergfalk pointed out that while Rhee has increased spending per square foot of school space in both richer areas of the District, like Ward 3, and poorer areas like Ward 8, spending per square foot in Ward 3 is over $120 and in Ward 8 is less than $60.

Bergfalk has also called out Rhee for touting gains in standardized testing that may not be there.  Before the DC Council, Bergfalk testified that DCPS students' increases on NAEP may have been due to a curious decline in black students taking the test between one testing year and the next rather than real gains in student achievement.  Bergfalk also questions Rhee's claims about closing the achievement gap and makes comparisons between Rhee and Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent, Jerry Weast.

Says Bergfalk,

"Here's what you'll see in DCPS using the NCLB, the No Child Left Behind test, which is our DCCAS.  Prior to Michele Rhee, from '06 to '07, the gap between poor students and non-poor students was closing; it closed by six percent for elementary school.  In her first year, in 2008, the gap increased by four percent.  In 2009, it increased by 9 percent.  In 2010, it increased by 4 percent.  So while Jerry Weast over seven years closed the gap by 19 percent, Michele Rhee over three years increased that gap, widened that gap, by 17 percent." 

It'll be interesting to see how far Bergfalk manages to get with his bid for the presidency.  The WTU is a mess to say the least.  It is outrageously political and definitely more interested in power struggles than advancing the interests of students.  I can't say for sure where Bergfalk's intentions lie, but I also can't say it wouldn't be nice to have someone with real classroom experience and a knack for pulling apart some of the District's data sitting in the driver's seat of one of the main forces for improving education.

6 comments:

  1. Chris Bergfalk is a great guy and an excellent teacher. He would make an equally excellent union president. My support to this point has been with Saunders because he seemed to me to be the only viable candidate but with Chris throwing his hat in the ring I will be changing my support. The WTU needs to change in so many ways and I am not sure that Nathan Saunders will bring about that change. What we don't need is someone coming in ready to send teachers to the picket lines, what we do need is someone who can navigate our union to a stronger position at the bargaining table so that we don't look like the caricature currently playing out in so many articles and commercials. It's nice to actually have more than one choice for a change.

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  2. I also like what I heard. How can we find out more about him.

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  3. George Parker and both Nathan Saunders have real classroom experience. GP was a long-time junior high/middle school math teacher at possibly Kramer. Anyway, he taught in SE for many years. Nathan Saunders also taught in SE, possibly at Ballou or Anacostia, either government or social studies. So to say that we need a president with real classroom teaching experience, we have had that.

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  4. Is Chris Bergfalk Randi Weingarten's candidate to make sure Saunders doesn't win?

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  5. It is unfortunate that Lodesterre is switching to a candidate, Chris Berfalk who has no experience in our union. Don't expect Bergfalk, an unknown to most to get much of the vote. I imagine he will end up like Liz Davis who usually gets about 300 votes in her last 5 or 6 elections. My vote will remain with Nathan Saunders and Candi Peterson. I think these two are the braintrust that DC teachers need.

    Go with Parker, Davis and Bergfalk and the union will be defunct in 3 more years. We need real fighters like the Saunders/Peterson slate. Google Candi and Nathan and you will see what they have been up to fighting for DC teachers for the past 3 years. By the way check our Candi's blog, The Washington Teacher on what's goingon with the takeover of our union.

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  6. Actually Chris has been involved with the union. He was his building rep when he was at Thomson ES.

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