The Cleveland School District is in the news this week as they are working to remove teachers who have received good evaluations while simultaneously expanding their contract with Teach For America.  This contract expansion will replace these experienced and qualified teachers with untested, under-trained TFA corps members (who each come with a “finders fee” paid out to Teach For America which will total $400,000 in additional spending).

At the Cleveland School District Board of Education meeting this past Tuesday, hundreds of teachers gathered to protest these changes that caught these successful teachers off-guard.  One of the key speakers to offer public comments to the Board that night was Cleveland Teachers Union President, David Quolke.  At our request, President Quolke shared his remarks with us so that we could share an accurate story of what is taking place in Cleveland:

I am David Quolke and I am the President of the Cleveland Teachers Union. There are many issues that I could talk to you about today. Many issues that I – and my members – think should be brought to your attention. However, today, I need to talk about Non-Reappointments.

The first week in May, 70 of my members received notice that they were being recommended for non-reappointment. Now that number could be off because these were the numbers that I was given by the media after they spoke with CEO Gordon or someone from the District. When talking to the media – I explained that many of my members were blindsided when they received this news and that the CTU was blindsided also. You see, I have many cases of members who had good evaluations – developing and skilled all year long, who were taking on leadership roles in their schools, who have increased student achievement, who have a composite evaluation with developing and skilled ratings. So, yes, when these teachers were suddenly told in May that they were going to be recommended for non-reappointment they were indeed blindsided.

Before you say to me – David, you know that state law does not require poor evaluations in order to non-reappoint a limited contract teacher. I know. I know. However, when the media came to the CEO regarding the teachers that were being recommended for non-reappointment – here are some of the quotes directly from CEO Gordon:

“We have a few people that either can’t or won’t. These are the people that our principals say are not meeting the expectations for our kids.”

“At some point if you are not getting the job done, we shouldn’t continue to pay you to do it.”

“It’s new for us to evaluate this thoroughly. It’s part of the Cleveland Plan to make sure that we have the right people in front of kids.”

So I ask you –

Is it a part of the Cleveland Plan to non-reappoint teachers with Skilled evaluations?

Is it a part of the Cleveland Plan to non-reappoint teachers with Skilled evaluations who have made a year’s worth of growth with their students in just 5 months?

Is it a part of the Cleveland Plan to non-reappoint teachers that were hired in October, November, December and are Developing (where a new teacher should be) or a combination of Developing and Skilled?

Is it a part of the Cleveland Plan to non-reappoint teachers that are Developing or a combination of Developing and Skilled who are taking on leadership roles, such as AR Champion or in servicing staff on SLOs (at the request of the principal) or who are accepting students from the local universities to observe their classes?

Is it a part of the Cleveland Plan to non-reappoint teachers that start in September, score Developing and Skilled on evaluations, and take over 100 hours in voluntary professional development?

Is it a part of the Cleveland Plan to non-reappoint teachers that are described like this by an administrator “His relationship with scholars and teachers resulted in one of the most successful classrooms in the district. I placed some scholars in his classroom knowing that it would be their last chance for success within CMSD.

I hope that none of this is a part of the Cleveland Plan. If it is – this should serve as a dangerous warning to all people enrolled in local teacher preparation programs – Come work in Cleveland where we ignore teacher Development and get rid of you simply because we can.

I know what you are thinking and what some people are already saying. The teachers union protects bad teachers. David Quolke wants bad teachers teaching kids no matter what the cost. I know that these words are already echoing in city hall, at 1111, and throughout the community. Let me be very clear – THAT IS NOT TRUE. It is a lie. I am furious about these non-reappointments. The officers of the CTU have worked around the clock in hearings for members over the last two weeks. There are good teachers that are doing the things that I want my daughter’s teachers to do. There are good teachers doing the things and the good work that our development and evaluation system ask for. There are good teachers doing what is needed to increase student learning and student achievement. They do not deserve to be recommended to this Board for non-reappointment.

So obviously a logical question would be – why are these people being recommended for non-reappointment? I have no answer for you. I can only speculate, but it is certainly a question that must be asked and answered by the people who engineered this massive non-reappointment of good and qualified teachers.

I think some people will look at tonight’s Board agenda and see that one of the items is a resolution to approve $400,000 to hire Teach For America teachers. Are these non-reappointments to make room for Teach for America? I will not bash Teach for America. They are our colleagues and once hired work shoulder to shoulder with us trying their very best to educate our students. But the irony of non-reappointing new teachers in order to replace them with Teach for America is that TFA does what the district should be doing – provide mentors and support. That is the actual Developing of a teacher that CMSD has completely abandoned.

Great way to recruit and develop a talented work force.

Sounds more to me like the beatings will continue until the morale improves. Not a good strategy for real reform.


  • Think.

    Teach for America is backed by right-wing interests that have bankrolled the conservative push to privatize and dismantle public education in America. The Walton Family Foundation has been involved in promoting the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC’s) education agenda, and it sponsored one of the ALEC Annual Conferences that GOP legislators attend. Teach for America also receives funding from the Doris and Donald Fisher Fund, which also funds the Kipp Foundation, a massive charter school network. (PR Watch)
    Watch out, Columbus Public Schools- they’re coming for you next!

  • duckmonkeyman

    Nice censorship, Plunderbund.

  • anastasjoy

    David Quolke may not want to bash Teach for America, but I do. Frankly, the district is hiring scabs – amateur scabs. These are people with no long-term commitment to the students, schools or community, only to burnishing their own resumes. The district clearly isn’t looking for teachers who will commit to the students, only to making real teachers feel undervalued and insecure. And the outcome of that will not be good. I expect in another two or three years there will be another half-baked “Cleveland plan” that they will tell us we MUST do now because we can’t let anymore children slip away after this plan fails. And it too will fail if it is conceived the way this one was: entirely created behind closed doors by the business community and foundations, with no input at all from teachers, students, parents, community members, principals, or education experts.

  • duckmonkeyman

    Plunderbund censored my prior comment, but I don’t see how teachers who bypass the tens of thousands of dollars, student teaching nightmare, 4 year residency ordeal and waltz into the classroom to pad their resume can help education.

  • Our comment system will flag anything with profanity or links and it will sit in a queue until one of us manually approves the comment. Not censorship. Just a busy day at work on my part.

  • duckmonkeyman

    Thanks. Sorry for the rant and the h-e-double toothpicks as my father in law says. Just so ticked this year going thru RE hoops after spending $30,000 and years on a license and find out these TFA &^$!! are stealing jobs after a five week joke course. And now hear we are going to have to pay more for STRS. The public keeps voting these anti-teacher politicians in and it is insane.

  • john curry

    The very sad fact about what is happening in Greg’s excellent article is that teachers will go to the polls the next time and vote Republican! It’s like hitting themselves in the face with their very own shovel and carried out by their very own arms. As a retired educator I have seen my fellow educators do this ….. time after time! There’s no cure for stupidity.

  • becca

    Not just Columbus – but all urban districts.

  • Reannne

    No, not urban only. They want to rid America of public schools. It just starts there.

  • MsAmerica

    My parents were both career teachers. They spent their whole lives increasing their knowledge of their subjects (primarily Romance languages) and developing new teaching tools. Every summer vacation we went somewhere that increased their subject knowledge, I.e. Quebec, St. Augustine, etc. It boggles my mind that teachers are so disrespected that a program to recruit amateurs who replace trained teachers is embraced by any school system. Does this reflect desperation for money? Poor administrators? Ignorant school boards and legislators? I can’t imagine this tactic being used in any other profession. Let’s put people with quickie courses in other professions, like finance managers, military tacticians, hospital administrators, or civil engineers. Sure, let’s roll the dice and see if any of those newbies have talent for their chosen profession. Sounds cost effective, doesn’t it? It’s only children and families who would get short changed. Does any other country do this? Seems absurd to me.

  • You are right, and to add a bit more context, Race to the Top (the vehicle in which Common Core was flown into the states) and its progeny allowed for this corporatism (see actual language below); a large reason why so many Republicans (Jeb Bush, Huckabee & Kasich) stand solidly behind it…they see it as a way to deal with the unions without actually having to deal with the unions. FedEd married CorporatEd and we are not only paying for big business’ bottom line via our tax dollars, but also in the loss of good teachers, who we are losing to retirement and maneuvers like this (Reanne is correct; it can happen everywhere, it’s just happening in urban districts first).
    Teachers that have come to us (most have retired w/in the year), from all over the political spectrum, thought that Common Core was just another hoop through which they must jump, but it cannot be assessed (no pun intended) in a vacuum. CommonCore parameters and those of the other 23 criteria that states had to adopt (including allowances for CorporatEd) were all drawn by RttT & it’s progeny (ELC).

    From Ohio’s 2010 RttT Application Submission, after HB 1 met many of the criteria of the 2009 RttT offer:
    “Ohio’s alternative pathways are market-driven and designed to optimize the supply of high-quality teachers and principals in demand areas. Statewide data consistently show that Ohio needs an increased supply of teachers in the subject areas of mathematics, science, special education, foreign language and English language learner (ELL) programs, particularly in the state’s low-achieving schools. Ohio understands the critical importance of offering alternative pathways and has put legal, statutory, and regulatory provisions in place that allow alternative routes to certification/licensure.
    Ohio has a proven track record in successfully implementing the following alternative pathways that allow candidates to meet the State’s teacher and principal licensure requirements
    through institutions of higher education (IHEs) and other providers, and in a variety of ways other than/in addition to coursework: (1.) Alternative Educator License (AEL), (2) Alternative Principal License (APL), (3) Provisional STEM License (PSL) and (4) Credential Review Board (CRB). The CRB provides a pathway for candidates from Teach
    for America, The New Teacher Project, and other out-of-state providers to become licensed in Ohio. In July 2009, Ohio’s legislators passed groundbreaking educational reform legislation in House Bill 1 which reinforced the importance of alternative pathways and accountability for educator preparation programs.”

    Worse is that they are 3 years ahead of us and we’re not sure it can be turned around (though Sub HB 237 is at least a start). After Gov. Strickland lost, Kasich, Lehner (Jeb Bush’s lead here in OH), et. al, picked up the ball. Only a handful of EO’s in C’bus have read ANY of the RttT documentation, which is criminal given that they continue to fund & cement its language into the ORC.

    A discharge petition has been taken out on Sub HB 237 and it needs some more signatures. We are advising everyone to meet with their representatives, and if they are clueless about the systemic nature of this policy, ask them to sign the discharge petition so that we can have the legislative debate that never took place. We have found that 2 Dem Reps. (Strahorn & Patterson) will at least listen whereas R’s like Stebelton, Brenner & Kunze will tell you to “talk to the hand.”

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