February 24, 2011

Providence Pink Slips II

Marc Comtois

The ProJo has more on the Providence School district sending pink slips to all teachers. Basically, it was Mayor Angel Taveras' call based on economic reality and trying to have as much flexibility as possible.

The mayor said the unprecedented move was necessary because of the depth of the financial crisis facing the city and the schools....[Providence School Superintendent Tom Brady] said the mayor alerted him about the impending crisis about two weeks ago. As Taveras became more alarmed, he asked Brady to come up with a solution that would give the city and the district “maximum flexibility” to respond to the city’s financial deficit, expected to top $57 million.
I also forgot that Providence Schools currently don't follow the traditional seniority hiring practices.
The district now fills openings based on an interview process that requires teachers to submit a model lesson and a writing sample.

It remains unclear how seniority will be used when teachers are rehired under the dismissal system, however....Supt. Tom Brady said it was too soon to say whether seniority would be eliminated in its entirety. The district is still embroiled in a lawsuit filed by the Providence Teachers Union that seeks to restore seniority, although both sides are reportedly close to an agreement.

Part of what spurred this is a loss of $14 million in stimulus money, which was used primarily to pay teachers. Additionally, the ProJo reports that an additional $11.5 million is needed to cover increases in health insurance and other benefits. It is also pointed out that Providence teachers pay 15% of their health insurance and will receive no pay raise this year. Unfortunately, they're learning what the private sector has already learned: making sacrifices for one year doesn't make you immune from making more sacrifices in subsequent years. I wish it were not true, but it's reality.

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When many of your members get double-digit percentage pay increases for many years, I don't have much sympathy for them not getting a raise this year.

By the way, even if there are no raises, are there any step increases? Or are those frozen too?

Posted by: Patrick at February 24, 2011 8:51 AM

I love the part about a writing sample. Will it be in English? Will Angel allow limited English proficient teachers get fired? What happens to the score on that writing sample? Wonder if the union is going to truly represent it's members by making sure better qualified teachers aren't loosing jobs to teachers who fail the writing sample portion of the process.

Will we ever know?

Posted by: glockster at February 24, 2011 8:55 AM

Can I play devil's advocate for a minute? Isn't there a difference between reading and writing in English? Can a teacher be effective in certain subjects without being able to write effectively? Could a teacher teach Physics or Biology or even Phys Ed effectively without being able to write effectively? And isn't speaking what we really care about? If someone can't effectively speak English in a classroom full of English-speakers, that's clearly a problem. But if they can't write to the point of passing a competency exam, that may not be as big of a problem.

Posted by: Patrick at February 24, 2011 10:37 AM

Patrick, it shouldn't be about "creative" writing but about the ability to communicate the relevant information both clearly and with proper grammar and spelling.

I have seen people who have fine technical knowledge but can't communicate it effectively. You wouldn't want them to teach.

Posted by: BobN at February 24, 2011 10:52 AM

I get your point Patrick. I'm a physics teacher and the majority of professors I had were from Pakistan, India and so on. I think at the post-secondary level it's fine but not at the secondary level. The buzz for the past ten years has been "We're all teachers of literacy." so based on that alone they shouldn't get a pass.

Posted by: glockster at February 24, 2011 11:28 AM

No. What caused this is David Cicilline's criminal mismanagement of the city. He raided the rainy day fund, failed to fund pensions, and covered over the mess so he could get elected to another office (and continue his legacy of incompetence).

Posted by: chuck at February 24, 2011 3:17 PM

Cicilline caused this problem.
Taveras,however,seems amenable to using race(or ethnicity to be more accurate)as a club.
Steve Smith has always a reasonable union leader-certainly compared with Walsh,Crowley,and Reback.i hope he prevails here because I think he's interested in quality education.
Taveras' "sanctuary city" move concering the Secure Communities situation is disgusting.Gov.Gump has joined him and both are head on against Col.Doherty on this.
Doherty has no political motive here-he is just being level headed and dedicated to his job.
Taveras and Gump better remember the name Archibald Cox who stood up to Nixon on principle.If they force Doherty out,they'll be tearing down their own houses.

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 25, 2011 3:10 AM
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