February 26, 2010

Not Much of an Education Story

Justin Katz

We're in sad circumstances when this hardly seems like much of a story at all:

The [Cranston] School Committee Tuesday approved a nearly $123.6-million budget that eliminates high school teams, the enrichment program [aka, honors programs], the elementary school strings, band and choral program, and lays off about 16 employees.

The teams cut are: freshman baseball, basketball and football; girls junior varsity field hockey; golf (coed); tennis (boys and girls); and indoor track (boys and girls).

Rhode Island students are being palpably harmed because adults lack the imagination and political will to beat back other adults' greed. Which brings us to Pat Crowley testifying before the RI House Finance Committee:

The education cuts would apply immediate pressure on municipalities to raise property taxes, cut staff or reduce student programs, according to Patrick Crowley, assistant executive director for the National Education Association of Rhode Island.

What's missing from Crowley's list is something that officials fear to make a public point about: reductions in remuneration. The reason is that it's the obvious necessity. They behave as if negotiations and concessions are some mysterious bending of reality that happens when officials and union leaders get together for verbal fencing behind closed doors. They're wrong, and they should fear (as I do) that continuing failure to step forward into the light and declare the game over will result in voters' demanding a Central Falls in every town.

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The kids, whom the teachers profess to care about, will be suffering big time while the teachers are laughing all the way to the bank. Further proof that public employee unions are one of the purest forms of evil that exists today.

Posted by: Frank at February 26, 2010 6:55 AM

Justin, you are correct when you said: "They behave as if negotiations and concessions are some mysterious bending of reality that happens when officials and union leaders get together for verbal fencing behind closed doors."

When my town had their last contract negotiations, I was in frequent email contact with members of the school committee. When the final contract came out (something citizens can not see until it is ratified), I asked questions about why there were still step increases of 7% put in there and the answer I was given was:

"Teachers and the unions look at steps as a right and not something to negotiate. RI general law requires us to have the steps so the battle is really at the state level on that one. We tried to get them to freeze at least the monetary value of steps but they would never go for it."

Hurry up November...

Posted by: Patrick at February 26, 2010 7:48 AM

That does it. I'd rather see a city have the stones to file bankruptcy, invalidate all union contracts, and hire on a right-to-work basis.

There are a few concentrations of utterly immoral, cynical, nihilist power-mad evildoers whose motive is not so much self-enrichment as control over everyone they see: the Russian KGB oligarchs, the North Koreans, Hugo Chavez, the Obama thugocracy, and the teachers union leaders.

Ellsworth Toohey would be proud of them.

Posted by: BobN at February 26, 2010 8:56 AM

I've heard it said that true evil, not simply mistaken or immoral behavior, is when people act immorally and convince themselves that what they are doing is moral.

Posted by: Dan at February 26, 2010 9:26 AM

I am a teacher.

I am ashamed at the unprofessional actions of the union that "represents" me at the bargaining table.

I became a teacher to teach students. And yes, I do deserve to make an salary on which to live. However, I DO NOT support the irresponsible and selfish demands of the union when they are willing to take so much from my students' education and also expect to plunge even deeper into taxpayers' pockets. And for what? A meager raise? NO.

I'm sure that many teachers will condemn me for breaking with the ranks. I don't care about falling out of line with union thought.

I am a professional. I realize that negotiations and concessions are needed, especially if it affects the most important part of my profession-- the students.

Thank you for this blog. Union, get back to the table. Negotiate like a professional.

Posted by: jill at February 26, 2010 11:16 AM

Bravo Jill, now you need to get the rest of the teachers to speak up. THe most disturbing thing in the Central Falls issue was Dr. Gallo's comments yesterday regarding the fact that the union leadership never let the teachers vote on Dr. Gallo's proposed transformation model, which would have saved ALL of their jobs.
Her comments was "it was a disappointment that the teachers, the leaders of my students were unable to stand up for themselves."

Teachers need to wake up and start paying attention to what their union leadership is doing on their behalf. Maybe if the teachers in Central Falls had been paying attention, they would all have jobs.

At this point, I feel if the teachers are that ignorant of what is happening, are willing to take union leadership at their word, and unwilling to educate themselves about the facts surrounding the terms of their employment, it is no wonder our kids our failing. Those responsible for teaching them to be critical thinkers are uncapable of of doing it themselves.

Posted by: gina at February 26, 2010 11:34 AM

Thank you, Jill. I hope that you and your many colleagues who are also professionals will vote in November.

Posted by: BobN at February 26, 2010 2:45 PM

Way to go, Jill. This state needs about a thousand more teachers like you.

Posted by: Dan at February 26, 2010 6:12 PM

Sorry, but until these "jill" type people actually come out publicly and denounce the union and their tactics, I'm not convinced. There's nothing that keeps someone, anyone, from posting as "jill" with that story that then makes the rest of us think, "oh wow, there are actual teachers who disagree with the union." But maybe they don't really exist. For all you know, *I* could have written that post and signed it as "jill".

So until these little pockets of anti-union teachers start becoming public and arguing back, I'm not buying it.

Posted by: Patrick at February 26, 2010 9:31 PM
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