rhee.jpg  Michelle Rhee The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in Massachusetts have voted to reject the state's application for funding from Obama's 'Race to the Top' programme Under the plan states have to bid for large amounts of funding and in exchange they have to carry out major 'reforms' in their school systems. In an attempt to qualify for the programme the state has introduced a sweeping bill to expand its charter school programme - schools which are taken over by private companies or groups and amongst other things often do not recognise teaching unions. These schools have at best a very mixed record even using the crude measures commonly cited by politicians such as SAT's scores. In addition the state was attempting to 'turn around unerperforming schools' by such measure as forcing teachers to work extra hours with no pay and making it easier to sack teachers. The state cannot access the federal grant without the agreement of the teachers' unions but AFT president Anne Wass said, “We are not going to give up our principles to get a pot of gold.’’ Meanwhile Washington DC's school chief Michelle Rhee is facing fury from teachers who are being asked to vote for an agreement on privately funded merit pay in exchange for a diminution of their job security. Rhee has already attacked teachers by firing 266 last autumn after a 90 day 'evaluation'. It has now emerged that Rhee failed to disclose that the state had a  $34 million surplus three months after sacking the teachers. The AFT is demanding that the sacked teachers be reinstated. For a more detailed analysis of the Washington situation go to this link: http://labornotes.org/blogs/2010/04/dc-teachers-gear-vote-privately-funded-merit-pay-plan