May 2, 2011

The Message of Union Defense

Justin Katz

A whopping 300 union teachers and organizers showed up for a weekend event at URI's Ryan Center to back the opinion stated, as follows, by National Education Association Rhode Island President Larry Purtill:

In Rhode Island, he said, many teachers distrust state Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist and her aggressive approach to changes that echoes the priorities of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

These include rigorous teacher evaluations, removing ineffective teachers, overhauling the nation's worst-performing schools and expanding public charter schools.

Message: We don't want change! Especially if it means evaluations and targeting those union members who are most vulnerable... because incompetent.

There is, however, one theme that's worth teasing out of the bunch, because it relates to a frequently made point:

Paul Taillefer, president-elect of the Canadian Teachers Federation, noted several key differences between the two countries, including Canada's more robust teacher selection, preparation and mentoring programs, the high regard society has for teachers and a stronger social safety net for students.

"We have medical and food programs that extend beyond the school walls that help students and level the playing field," he said. ...

"Her favorite refrain is, 'We can’t make any excuses,'" [North Kingstown High School history teacher Jay] Walsh said. "Well, we aren't making any excuses. When we ask these questions, we are trying to acknowledge that what we do in the classroom is connected to many other things outside of the classroom."

I don't support pursuing a government as broad as Canada's, but if the problem hindering our students' success lies outside of the education system, then we need to change the way we allocate resources to address that. If teachers aren't the key, then we should decrease our spending on them and target factors that really would help us, as a society, achieve our objectives.

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Obama gets Osama killed and Justin spins our event this way.

Yup, thats about right.

Posted by: Pat Crowley at May 2, 2011 7:40 AM

Yup, it figures that Crowley the toady would give Obama credit for something that was given to him despite all his attempts to undermine the people who did it.

Sounds just like a union leader, in fact.

Posted by: BobN at May 2, 2011 7:48 AM

so three hundred is a lot of people if it is a te party rally but not many if it is the teachers rallying.

Posted by: triplerichard at May 2, 2011 8:34 AM

Watching these union punks operate is no different than watching Hezbollah launching rockets from hospitals and residential areas.
The union maggots trade on the general goodwill that teachers enjoy.
Let's get something straight - we like teachers; we hate their f'n unions.
The teachers would be fine without the union. What would maggots like Crowley be like without the teachers?

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at May 2, 2011 8:48 AM

Why isn't Crowley banned from here yet? He never offers anything. As much as we may disagree with Phil, Russ, Swazool, Tom Kenney or even Michael at times, at least they bring points into the discussion. I like to refer to Crowley as a seagull because he just swoops in, craps all over everything and flies away, not to be seen again until the next time he feels the need to relieve himself. You do the same on his blog and you get banned.

Has he ever offered anything here but snark and sarcasm? Pull the trigger, Justin!

Posted by: Patrick at May 2, 2011 9:35 AM

Obama? Bin Laden? What on earth is he talking about?

Pat Crowley is an illiterate fool. Only in corrupt, anti-intellectual Rhode Island could he hold down any job outside of fast food service. The teachers in his union should be outraged by his consistently unprofessional and possibly mentally-ill public behavior.

Posted by: Dan at May 2, 2011 11:13 AM

You gotta' love it. I thought I missed something in the original post and actually had to go back and reread it. Crowley is nothing but tool. His comments and comebacks are more fitting a school yard recess.

Posted by: Max Diesel at May 2, 2011 2:05 PM

btw, gotta love that picture of Crowley in the ProJo - a real professional, huh? Oh yeah, I want to be part of that little club.
I would be mortified if I was a teacher attempting to put forth an image as a professional and that maggot is what I had as the face of my profession. How absolutely disgusting!
In the end, if the teachers want to allow this to go on, they deserve the vilification they get. If they want to resurrect their image, at some point they really need to step up and say, enough is enough!

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at May 2, 2011 2:16 PM

Crowley exists where he does because he doesn't mind getting crap thrown at him.He throws it also.
What is he?He's Bob Walsh's flakcatcher.
Walsh can appear all nice and amiable while he sticks it to the taxpayers.
Crowley is lucky he wasn't in the service-they'd have him looking for mines or walking point.
I kind of respect that Crowley holds nothing back and uses his real name.
Of,course he's wrong on everything.

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 2, 2011 3:39 PM

Thanks, at least, for the "nice and amiable" observation.

FWIW, it was the reporter who listed her imagined areas of disagreement with federal education policy, not Mr. Purtill. Speakers during the six hour program included a wide range of perspectives, and covered multiple issues.

It will be interesting to observe how AR regulars react when the bloom comes off the rose on some of the Race to the Top spending decisions.

Posted by: Bob Walsh at May 3, 2011 6:22 AM

Hey, I've never liked the idea of Race to the Top-down Control. But if unions hadn't so strangled education, there'd be much less support for federal power grabs.

Come now, Bob, you can't be completely disheartened by the fact that, fleeing you, the public is running into the arms of the federal government.

Posted by: Justin Katz at May 3, 2011 6:33 AM

Bob, don't insult us with false dichotomies. Most AR regulars would abolish the federal Dept. of Education, dismantle most of the state's Byzantine statutes, and enact right-to-work legislation that would return spending choices to local school districts and parents. I'd like to see how NEA and AFT regulars would react to that.

Posted by: BobN at May 3, 2011 7:22 AM

Some friends of mine were having a discussion about a certain math curriculum in my public school system. One of the guys where is a PhD in Education and his specialty is math. I asked his opinion on the curriculum and he explained all the ins and outs of it for elementary and middle school kids. My opinion was that any curriculum is BS. I believe that teachers are professionals who were went to school and most continue to go to school to learn the ART of teaching. It is an art, not a science. If it was a science, anyone could do it, just follow the formula. However, too many school districts (all?) are trying to make teaching into a science with the use of curricula. How to fix this? Get rid of it all, let every teacher use their own methods and curriculum. They are the professionals, they know how to teach and let them make adjustments on the fly. Then hold them accountable. The good teachers will succeed and you need to get the bad ones the hell out of the classroom. Oh and there's the sticking point. We can't get the bad ones out. The union won't let us. Just like if I suck at my job, my boss will fire me. Unless there's union protection. We can't fix the problem until we get the union out of the way.
So in my opinion, this situation is virtually unfixable.

Posted by: Patrick at May 3, 2011 9:15 AM

Patrick is 100% correct. There is no way this gets fixed with the existence of unions. It's funny that my discussions with teachers find them totally aware of the problem the unions present, yet they are fearful of speaking out. The union punks and thugs invoke gestapo tactics to shut up anybody going against the union pathology.
It's time for a revolution amongst like minded teachers to get rid of the union cancer.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at May 3, 2011 9:33 AM

btw, Walsh kills me with his "nice and amiable" crack. How's your boy Liardecker doing Bob?

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at May 3, 2011 9:52 AM

I should add that another problem in the mix, to be fair, is school committees. Like a state rep once said, "we ain't the smartest, just the most electable". It's often even moreso for the school committee. Unfortunately, it's a seat that's not taken very seriously and often looked at as a stepping stone seat for beginners, when in reality, it should be quite the opposite. These people are the superintendent's boss. Without union protection, they could hire and fire just about anyone. Sure, there are labor laws, but who hasn't goofed off for even 5 seconds at work? Check ESPN scores for a minute, show up 5 minutes late? There's your "just cause" for termination, if a teacher was "unfair" to little Johnny who happens to be the chair of the SC's kid. I understand that's what the union is in place to protect.

Unfortunately, all the priorities have gotten mucked up.

Posted by: Patrick at May 3, 2011 12:54 PM

School committees made up of union members. There are many elected school committee members who are active teachers (in other districts), retired teachers, or married to teachers. And in RI, the ones who are married to a teacher in the District where they sit on the School Committee can vote for raises, ratify contracts, etc. - even take cash for not taking health insurance, or some are covered by the very health insurance they are "negotiating" in the teachers' contract. Yes, the school committees are a BIG part of the problem.

Posted by: riborn at May 3, 2011 8:11 PM
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