The morning began with the buoyant spirit of a pep rally — all cheers, prizes and inspirational words from Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and other officials to launch the District’s teachers into the fall term that starts Monday.
Before it ended, however, the “welcome back” assembly at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center yesterday took a more anxious turn. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and Washington Teachers’ Union President George Parker each seized the opportunity to speak to the audience of 4,000 teachers about Rhee’s pay package proposal, which has roiled and divided them.
Rhee was there to win hearts and minds. Parker was there to count them.
Rhee is offering teachers a “green tier” plan that would boost many of them over the $100,000 mark in salary and performance bonuses. In exchange, they must surrender tenure protections for a year and risk dismissal by going on probation. Teachers who want to retain tenure can opt for the “red tier,” which would offer lower, but still significant, raises and bonuses.