UPDATE: The foundations named below have pledged $65m for teacher pay, and at least two of the groups say that funding is contingent on the Chancellor maintaining her position. Other corrections follow below.
April 27, 2010; Source: Washington Post | Labor negotiations, under the best of circumstances, are complicated and sometimes messy. But new disclosures about strings attached to a plan by a group of private foundations to pay for raises and bonuses to teachers in Washington, D.C. public schools have added one more layer of complexity to a recently negotiated contract with the teachers’ union.
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The Walton Family Foundation, the Robertson Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Broad Foundation, have said that their combined $65 million pay pledge is contingent on schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee staying on the job through 2012, or the duration of the grant period. Although the tentative labor agreement between the school system and teachers’ union was announced April 7, the Washington Post says the foundations’ conditions, which were laid out in a March 17 letter mid-March, were not disclosed until this week.
According to the Post, before the agreement can be ratified by the union and the D.C. council, the school system has to “certify that the money promised in the contract is actually available” and that the funds pledged by donors are fully committed. The issue facing the school district is whether the foundations’ “out clauses” will make it impossible to meet that standard. Another reason for concern is uncertainty whether Rhee will remain in her job should D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray defeat the current mayor, Adrian M. Fenty in the Sept. 14 election.—Bruce Trachtenberg