February 2, 2013

Ed Commissioner: Let's Put the Children First

Monique Chartier

On January 22, by a vote of two to two with four others abstaining (that's right, four abstentions due to possible conflicts of interest), the Chariho School Committee failed to implement a policy of non-seniority based layoffs for the Chariho school system.

Late yesterday afternoon, possibly in response to this uncourageous vote by the Chariho School Committee or perhaps to the looming March 1 deadline for districts to send teacher layoff notices, RI Education Commissioner Deborah Gist released a letter in which she

threatens to impose sanctions “up to and including loss of certification,” taking districts to court, or withholding state education aid unless they comply with her interpretation of a key education regulation called the Basic Education Program. These sanctions go beyond Gist’s previous statements about teacher assignments , when she said seniority cannot be the “sole” factor in assigning teachers but she did not say directly that job fairs and bumping are, in effect, illegal and punishable.

Teacher unions immediately squawked. Not sure why; this is all supposed to be for the chiii-hhhhhhiiiiillllllll-dren. (Thanks to Phil Hirons for supplying the correct contextual pronunciation of the word.) Anyway, that's what we are told at contract negotiation time when raises are on the line. Ah, but now it appears that a different priority has emerged.

The Rhode Island Federation of Teachers promptly lashed back, saying Gist is bullying school committees and administrators and attempting to gut collective-bargaining rights. RIFT President Frank Flynn said that contrary to Gist’s statements, education policy does not trump state labor law. ...

Flynn said the union is “considering its options” in response to the letter, which he called “outrageous” in both tone and content.

So it is "outrageous" to place educating children ahead of seniority (not qualification) based hiring and labor-friendly laws? Huh. I'm not sure how many people would agree with that. In any case, at least we are quite clear now that this is not all about the children.

[Monique is Deputy Editor of the RISC-Y Business Newsletter.]

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

The school committee sounds like the keystone cops. Can it get anymore inept? The union is what it is. Their responses and actions are pretty much standardized in the union pamphlet.

Posted by: Max D at February 3, 2013 10:02 AM

Perhaps we need to teach the word 'meritocracy' and it's meaning to the children. Enough of the "protection" racket mentality that facilitates a race to the bottom..

Posted by: Mike at February 3, 2013 5:31 PM

My first credit on AR. Cool! Unless you got this from my father, a former Providence teacher.

Posted by: Phil Hirons, Jr. at February 3, 2013 11:18 PM

Go over the ProJo's story on this and check out the comments section. It's flooded with teachers whining about this policy, and includes fabrications on every level regarding seniority and tenure. As they would like you to believe:
"It's not about seniority. It's about the children".

Posted by: Mike at February 4, 2013 1:46 PM
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