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WTU Turns To Politician With A History of Anti-Semitism In Bid To Upend Evals

Teachers union doesn’t seem to mind that D.C. Councilman claimed Jews control the government and cause bad weather

The Council of the District of Columbia will consider legislation that could lead to the dismantling of IMPACT, the teacher evaluation system that has been used by D.C. Public Schools for the past decade.

The bill, which was drafted by the Washington Teachers Union and introduced by Councilman Trayon White last week, would make evaluations part of the collective bargaining process, meaning that teachers could only be assessed on criteria agreed upon by both DCPS and WTU.

IMPACT was introduced during the tenure of former DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

WTU has been trying replace IMPACT ever since it was introduced by former DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee. While union leaders like WTU president Elizabeth Davis insist the evaluation system “has had a negative impact on students, teachers and principals,” research from the University of Virginia has shown that IMPACT not only improved teacher quality, but raised student achievement.

In any case, what’s surprising about the proposed legislation is not that WTU is pushing it, but that they would ally themselves with Trayon White in an effort to get it passed. After all, most progressive organizations would strenuously avoid having anything to do with White, who has been involved in several anti-Semitic incidents during his tenure on the D.C. Council.

In March 2018, White drew widespread condemnation for a video he posted on Facebook in which he asserted that a D.C. snowstorm was the result of climate manipulation by the Rothschilds, a Jewish banking family that has historically been the focus of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. In the video, White proclaims:

“Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y’all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation. We a resilient city. And that’s a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful.”

A few days later, another video surfaced of a February 2018 meeting in which White asserted that the Rothschilds control the government. In the recording, top D.C. leaders sit stunned and perplexed while White says:

“There’s this whole concept with the Rothschilds — who control the World Bank, as we all know — infusing dollars into major cities. They really pretty much control the federal government, and now they have this concept called resilient cities in which they are using their money and influence into local cities.”

In response to the uproar over his comments, the 34 year-old councilman apologized, insisting that he didn’t realize his comments were anti-Semitic, and promised to make amends with the Jewish community. Instead, he further insulted the community by ducking out of a 90-minute tour of the Holocaust Memorial Museum that was organized by local Jewish leaders. It subsequently emerged that White used constituent services funds to give a $500 donation to support an event hosted by Louis Farrakhan, at which the Nation of Islam leader proclaimed, “powerful Jews are my enemy.”

At a time when powerful politicians are stoking the flames of intolerance and racism, the Washington Teachers Union should be speaking out against White, not enthusiastically embracing him.

I guess when it comes to the pursuit of the union’s interests, anything goes.

Written by Peter Cook

Pete became involved in education reform as a 2002 Teach For America corps member in New Orleans Public Schools and has worked in various capacities at Teach For America, KIPP, TNTP, and the Recovery School District. As a consultant, he developed teacher evaluation systems and served as a strategic advisor to school district leaders in Cleveland, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. He now writes about education policy and politics and lives in New Orleans.

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