RI Educational Establishment: Your Days of No Vigorous Public Oversight & No Accountability Are Ending
Five years ago, fighting the Rhode Island educational establishment of bureaucrats and teachers’ unions reminded me of Sisyphus, who mythology says was condemned to constantly pushing the rock up the hill – only to have it slide back down so he would have to repeat the senseless effort again and again.
But the winds of change are blowing…
For example, consider the union response to pension reform. After years of actively resisting any change, they weighed in last week with a late-to-the-game attempt to modify the pension reform train that had already left the station. It came across as an act of desperation.
Now there is another example of how the winds of change are blowing. A recent ProJo article carries an interesting message to the educational establishment in Rhode Island:
The powerful House Finance Committee stuck with Governor Carcieri’s proposal to boost school financing by just 2.2 percent, allocating $666 million to education in next year’s budget being hammered out in the General Assembly.
For the second year in a row, it mirrored the governor’s spending plan for schools. In previous years, the General Assembly has broken with the governor to give cities and towns more school aid than he sought.
“The message we are trying to send to school districts is no more business as usual,” said Rep. Paul W. Crowley, D-Newport, who is deputy chairman of the finance committee.
Lawmakers have become frustrated, according to Crowley. They feel that the state’s investment in schools has been so broad that lawmakers have been unable to see tangible results, Crowley says.
“There’s a concern about where the money is going,” he said. “Is it just going into health-care and retirement benefits for teachers, or is it going to services for students?”
Crowley says Rhode Island needs to negotiate a single state contract with teachers or set some standards for benefit packages.
“We aren’t going to keep investing in a system we have no control over,” he said.
This perspective angers school superintendents such as Catherine M. Ciarlo, who runs the Cranston school system and says she has been counting on additional state aid for next year…
The problem with public education in Rhode Island can be summarized easily: We over-pay for under-performance.
We spend roughly 25% more than the national average on a per-pupil basis. Depending on the survey, we have the 7th-to-9th highest highest paid teachers.
And what do we get for that investment: Based on various NAEP test results, RI schools rank between 34th-to-38th among the 50 states. And don’t forget that the average student performance in the United States is average-to-below-average among students in the industrialized world.
How could this be? There are two major reasons: Outrageously generous financial terms and extraordinarily restrictive management rights terms in the teachers’ union contracts.
With respect to financial terms: Handing out 8-14% annual salary increases to all but the top job step. Providing for little or no health insurance premium co-payment. Offering cash buybacks when health insurance is not used. Longevity bonuses. Rich pension benefits. And the list goes on.
With respect to management rights: The Education Partnership’s report is an effective way to learn how the union contract decimates effective decision making in our schools.
There is indeed concern about where the education money is going. As Warwick and East Greenwich negotiations have shown, the unions are relentlessly pushing their non-stop attempts to legally extort the residents of each town with no focus on how their demands impact programs and resources that are needed by our children.
But, the word is out about the games played by the educational establishment at the expense of our children. There is no turning back. And, in time, the educational establishment will either change radically to become a high performance operation or become extinct.
This is a moral crusade. Access to a quality education is the great equalizer in enabling all children to have a fair shot at living the American Dream. We cannot and will not continue to deny the most needy of our children what is their birthright as citizens of this great land.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON EDUCATIONAL ISSUES:
EAST GREENWICH NEA TEACHERS’ UNION CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS
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.
Other postings include:
Background Information on the East Greenwich NEA Labor Dispute
The NEA’s Disinformation Campaign
East Greenwich Salary & Benefits Data
More Bad Faith Behavior by the NEA
The Debate About Retroactive Pay
Would You Hurt Our Children Just To Win Better Contract Terms?
The Question Remains Open & Unanswered: Are We/They Doing Right By Our Children?
Will The East Greenwich Teachers’ Union Stop Their Attempts to Legally Extort Residents?
You Have To Read This Posting To Believe It! The Delusional World of the NEA Teachers’ Union
So What Else is New? Teachers’ Union Continues Non-Productive Behaviors in East Greenwich Labor Talks
“Bargaining Rights are Civil Rights”
OTHER RHODE ISLAND PUBLIC EDUCATION/UNION ISSUES
In addition to financial issues, management rights are the other big teachers’ union contract issue. “Work-to-rule” or “contract compliance” only can become an issue because of how management rights are defined in union contracts. The best reading on this subject is the recent report by The Education Partnership. It is must reading.
Other editorials and postings include:
ProJo editorial: Derailing the R.I. gravy train
ProJo editorial: RI public unions work to reduce your family’s quality of life
ProJo editorial: Breaking the taxpayer: How R.I. teachers get 12% pay hikes
Selfish Focus of Teachers Unions: Everything But What Is Good For Our Kids
Tom Coyne – RI Schools: Big Bucks Have Not Brought Good Results
The NEA: There They Go, Again!
A Response: Why Teachers’ Unions (Not Teachers!) Are Bad For Education
“A Girl From The Projects” Gets an Opportunity to Live the American Dream
Doing Right By Our Children in Public Education Requires Thinking Outside The Box
Debating Rhode Island Public Education Issues
The Cocoon in which Entitled State Employees Live
Are Teachers Fairly Compensated?
Warwick Teachers’ Union Throws Public Tantrum
Blocking More Charter Schools Means Hurting Our Children
BROADER PUBLIC EDUCATION ISSUES
The Deep Performance Problems with American Public Education
Freedom, Hard Work & Quality Education: Making The American Dream Possible For ALL Americans
Parents or Government/Unions: Who Should Control Our Children’s Educational Decisions?
Now Here is a Good Idea
Milton Friedman on School Choice