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D.C. Teachers Protest at School Vouchers Conference

By WAMU 88.5
|  Wednesday, May 11, 2011  |  Updated 6:28 AM EDT
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D.C. Teachers Protest at School Vouchers Conference

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She's no longer employed by the city, but mention ex D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's name and it elicits polar opposite responses, and the vast majority of the crowd at Monday's school vouchers conference isn't happy with her tenure.

While chancellor, Rhee closed schools, renegotiated compensation packages with the teachers union and fired hundreds of teachers. Rhee also supports voucher programs.

Nathan Saunders, the head of the Washington Teachers' Union, said Rhee's tough stance with unions is spreading across the United States.

"She certainly did bring a new furor to the movement," Saunders said.

Test scores increased under Rhee, but an investigation has raised questions about whether officials tampered with those tests.

"What were concerned about is that there are a lot of voucher programs around the country, and those voucher programs have not been proven to be true," said Michael Morrill, with the Pennsylvania group Keystone Progress.

A very small group of voucher supporters stopped by, too. Brendan Steinhauser, of the conservative group Freedom Works, said vouchers are one of many educational reforms that should be on the table.

"It's important because I think it injects competition into the school system," Steinhauser said.

Rhee is slated to speak at the conference Tuesday morning.

Listen to the complete story at wamu.org

Copyright 2011 WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio. All Rights Reserved.

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