March 4, 2011

The Union Rhetoric and Financial Reality

Justin Katz

You know, this sort of talk can only expand the sense of unreality between unions and the general public:

"Something is insane in Providence," [American Federation of Teachers President Randi] Weingarten said, standing on the steps of City Hall. "On a week where teachers and students were taking a well-deserved break, a secret plan was being hatched in Providence. They thought no one would be there to hear it. Fire everyone — that was their plan."

Maybe it's because my family hasn't been able to afford to go anywhere during vacations since my honeymoon a dozen years ago, but it strikes me as peculiar to assume that February vacation finds full regiments of teachers flying off to vacation spots around the globe. It seems, rather, that a better time to slip secret plans through would be just before they leave or just after they return.

Moreover, Weingarten manages to remind the general public that the protesting horde just wrapped up another full week off — a winter break, not to be confused with the Christmas break or the soon to arrive spring break. Let the kids decompress, by all means, but are Rhode Island's schools running so smoothly that there's no need to fill time out of the classroom with strategy sessions, evaluation of successes and failures, and professional development — all within scope of the enviable employment packages that teachers already receive?

In similar regard, this statement from a parent at the rally emphasizes the point:

"Mr. Mayor," said Maria Almestica, "we don't want 35 kids in a classroom. This is not OK. Our children should be learning, not worrying. You're messing with their futures."

The children shouldn't have to worry that the city in which they live will not remain financially solvent, and they shouldn't have to worry that their state cannot produce adequate employment to allow them to remain within its borders when they enter the workforce. The status quo of the Rhode Island public sector is not sustainable, and at bottom, that is what's messing with students' futures.

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So you fire the teachers. Fire the ones who may need firing. Fire the ones who don't. Fire the good, the bad, and the ugly. No evaluation, no process. They may have gone on vacation somewhere you cannot afford... Fire 'em. They get pensions..Fire 'em. They think they're so smart ...Fire 'em. You've got a big financial mess left to you from a political ally ... Fire all the teachers. When I was a kid and had not done an assignment due on that day ,I would imagine as I walked to school all the ways my teacher could be killed and I could escape punishment for having not done my work. Illness was not good enough.. that may only last a day or two and she had an unbelievable memory. I would entertain visions of runaway buses , falling meteorites, escaped mental patients wielding knives. That would distract me and eventually I would arrive at school and face the music. So for those who are cheering the teachers demise , grow up.

Posted by: Phil at March 4, 2011 7:31 AM

And yet, nobody has been fired, Phil. Kind of short circuits your little Freudian narrative there.

Posted by: Dan at March 4, 2011 7:38 AM

There is a big difference between laid off and terminated. Besides the added aggravation in getting unemployment compensation, "terminated" puts a big cramp in your ability to gain future employment, teaching or not, public or private.
But some people just get their jollies seeing others lose rheir jobs - it has the same effect on them as porn mags have on a 14-year-old boy home alone.

Posted by: bella at March 4, 2011 7:47 AM

Justin when I went to a private school, I seem to recall going back to school about a week later, having a longer Christmas break, and getting out in the first week in June, as well as having a half day twice a quarter. this was at a top notch private school. Does that mean length of the year was a factor in that school good reputation?

Posted by: triplerichard at March 4, 2011 8:09 AM

Wow Bella...that may be the most vicious, dishonest, irresponsible post you've ever made here.

Everyone knows that the "firing" is the bureaucratic mechanism forced on the city by state law which was written by the teachers' unions. Everyone knows that not all the teachers will actually be fired. Many of us hope that the deadwood will be culled in the cost-cutting process.

But you and your Leftist friends try to defy these facts to fabricate a dishonest narrative, purely to stir up conflict. At least you're showing yourself to be a good student, following Alinsky's book perfectly.

Posted by: BobN at March 4, 2011 8:17 AM

Implement School Choice and fire them ALL.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at March 4, 2011 8:51 AM

"There is a big difference between laid off and terminated. "

There's also a big difference between terminated and being notified that you could be terminated. There's also a big difference between telling the truth and spreading the lie.

Posted by: Patrick at March 4, 2011 9:09 AM

Tommy I think Bella may have been referring to you inhr above post.

Posted by: triplerichard at March 4, 2011 11:06 AM

"...but it strikes me as peculiar to assume that February vacation finds full regiments of teachers flying off to vacation spots around the globe."

Yes, quite pecular of you to assume that because Weingarten didn't say a word about flying off anywhere. Yes, what a paradise the world would be if only there were less times when parents could be with their children without causing them to missing school!

As for the finances, you seem to blaming teachers for politicians who pass tax cuts for the wealthy instead of saving funds for a rainy day or who outright steal from workers by underfunding pension plans.

Posted by: Russ at March 4, 2011 4:29 PM

"There's also a big difference between terminated and being notified that you could be terminated."

Either way all the teachers were treated the same. There appears to be no cause for the firings. ( or if you like the technical firings) If managers insist on management rights they best use them wisely. And if it is only a "bureaucratic mechanism" shame on them for employing it. It will be remembered.

Posted by: Phil at March 4, 2011 6:34 PM

"Either way all the teachers were treated the same. "

But the fact remains that no one was "fired". No matter how much you and your union buddies try to spread the lie that all the teachers were fired, not one has been. To say anything else is a lie.

And don't all teachers want to be treated the same? If you have a good 4th year teacher and a bad 4th year teacher, which one is going to make more money their 5th year? Oh yeah, they're going to make exactly the same. Gotta love it.

Posted by: Patrick at March 4, 2011 9:05 PM

Stuart has been banned

Posted by: joe bernstein at March 5, 2011 8:23 PM
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