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Washington Teachers' Union Elects New Leader

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Nathan Saunders (left) and Candi Peterson, the new president and vice president of the Washington Teachers' Union after the vote Tuesday night.
Kavitha Cardoza
Nathan Saunders (left) and Candi Peterson, the new president and vice president of the Washington Teachers' Union after the vote Tuesday night.

Nathan Saunders takes over this morning as president of the Washington Teachers' Union, which represents approximately 4,000 teachers in D.C. Public Schools.

Saunders received 556 votes, beating out incumbent President George Parker, who recieved 480. And depending on whom you ask, this is in spite of or because Parker negotiated a contract where teachers made more money in exchange for less job security.

Saunders says he will move "aggressively and progressively" to push for teachers' rights and says teachers were sending the community a message.

"It says that they are not going to be passive in a relationship with D.C. Public Schools," he says.

Saunders and his new vice president, Candi Peterson, have been vocal opponents of former Chancellor Michelle Rhee's education reform in the District. And some of his most ardent supporters were teachers who were laid off by Rhee last year, including Crystal Proctor.

"It's exhilarating. We got rid of all three of them. Rhee, Fenty and George. Gone. I worked on campaigns to get rid of all of them," Proctor says.

The WTU election was supposed to have been conducted in spring, but the process was marred with so much in-fighting that the parent union the American Federation of Teachers had to take over the election.

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