Would You Hurt Our Children Just To Win Better Contract Terms?
If you ever wanted some clear examples of how far the NEA teachers’ union (with at least the implicit support of their bureaucratic allies in public education) will go to win desired contract terms, read this posting and learn about three inexcusable actions in my home town of East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
Let’s begin with some background information: To increase the pressure to settle the union contract on their terms, teachers in town – following the direction of their union – are doing what is called “work-to-rule” or contract compliance. What that means in practical terms is that they do the bare minimum to comply legally with terms of the old contract. The bottom line: While teachers are making the same salaries and benefits as last year, they are not doing the same work they did last year. And that hurts our children.
More specifically, “work-to-rule” has led to no before-school or after-school tutoring help for students and the elimination of extra-curricular activities like field trips.
Or so we all thought – at least until some reliable sources shared the following three stories with me:
First, some teachers showed up last Friday to enjoy the light-hearted social setting of the junior/senior prom. But, at the same time, teachers have refused to tutor students in need of academic help.
Second, some teachers who refuse to tutor our children before or after school are currently charging money from parents to tutor children outside of school – i.e., they are getting paid extra money this year to do what has been a part of their regular job description in past years. (Anyone want to bet whether they are reporting this income on their 1040?)
Third, teachers took grade 6 students in the CPT (gifted students) program on an overnight field trip to the Nature’s Classroom in northwestern Connecticut but they refused to take other non-CPT grade 6 students on the annual day trip to Ellis Island and the Statute of Liberty. [See Addendum II below for further information.] This is outrageous behavior.
But it doesn’t stop there.
At the same time, the NEA teachers’ union continues to demand that all teachers receive retroactive pay for the entire last school year. In other words, they want to be made whole financially – even while their actions make it impossible for our children to be made whole in their educational experience.
I sure hope the School Committee doesn’t “go wobbly” and cave into the demand for retroactive pay. Such a development would endorse this unfair, discriminatory, and inexcusable treatment of our children.
I also hope the media will report on these stories to ensure East Greenwich school and town officials investigate them and provide residents with the public forum in which to express their outrage.
Would you hurt our children just to win better contract terms? Some people would. And that makes them neither friends nor people to be trusted.
Kim Petti, a Town Council member, responded with these words to an email containing a link to this posting:
I would like to demand Mr. Jolin and these teachers at the 6th grade and any other teachers who selectively shun their duties appear before the town council for an explanation to the tax payers of our town. Furthermore, the children that are hurt by one-sided contracts are the children that now pay taxes. I hope this legacy is not passed on to the next generation. It is our duty to stop our workers from telling the employer what they will do and when. Thank you.
Well said and thank you.
Sometimes even reliable sources are not entirely accurate. Here is an update on the CPT event from a parent whose child was involved:
…Nature’s Classroom took place at Camp Fuller which is located in Wakefield, not the location in Connecticut. Students were bused to this facility on Monday morning May 8 and returned Friday afternoon May 13. In past years Linda Cram, the CPT teacher, spent the entire week (day and night) with the students serving as liaison for the program, and as a supervisor and chaperone for the East Greenwich students. Parent volunteers rotate shifts and provide additional supervision. At least two parents spend the night each night.
During the initial planning stages earlier in the school year, Mrs. Cram made it clear that without a teacher contract she would be unable to spend the night with the children and would only be able to be present during her normal working hours as called for under the current contract situation. Without a representative from the District in attendance 24 hours a day, the children could not attend this program.
…As it got closer it became clear that [a contract settlement] would not happen. In the end the program was salvaged by administration. Charlie Meyers, the principal at Eldridge, and Joan Sousa, the principal at Hanaford, came to Nature’s Classroom at the end of their day as administrators of their respective schools and took over responsibility for the over 30 students in the program. Mrs. Cram left at the end of each day as she would had she been teaching from her classroom at Hanaford.
Frankly I am unsure of the internal workings which transpired that allowed this to happen, but instead I can only sing the praises of Mr. Meyers and Mrs. Sousa who took on additional work and responsibility so that the program could go forward. They did double duty that week, away from their families, so that our children didn’t suffer yet another lost opportunity…
Thank you for the clarification and kudos to Mrs. Sousa and Mr. Meyers for doing the right thing for our children.
Nothing of this new information changes the bottom line: The teachers are making the same salaries and benefits they did last year but they are not doing the same amount of work as last year. They are acting like hourly paid union laborers and not professionals – but they demand to be treated like professionals. They have to decide whether they are unionists or professionals.
Nothing drives this contradiction home more than hearing that the annual day trip to Ellis Island and the Statute of Liberty did not occur. Guess they could not fit it into their 6 hour work day.
In a nutshell, here is what I think the negotiating position of the East Greenwich School Committee should be on some of the key financial terms of the contract.
East Greenwich NEA teachers’ union contract negotiations – go here, here, here, and here.
Other Rhode Island public education issues – go here, here, here, and here.
Broader public education issues – go here, here, and here.