The Dramatics of the “Professionals”

I heard an eye witness account, last night, of the daily start-of-day ritual at Tiverton High School. Apparently, the teachers all sit in their cars until exactly the time at which they have to report to their classrooms, and then they all march in as a group. As anybody who has ever worked in a professional setting can attest, this sort of dramatic display is frequently seen outside office buildings. Right?
Or perhaps Tiverton Budget Committee member Alexander Cote is correct in his assessment of the teachers’ professionalism:

Senior students are not receiving recommendations to colleges and internships. They are not allowed to work on class projects or accumulate the requisite community service. Nor are they allowed to participate in college awareness events, math clubs, mock trial teams, class trips, senior proms, yearbooks and whole host of events tat are part of every graduating class. Worse than declaring their intent to work to rule is the daily flaunting and badgering directly to students of their unwillingness to provide any assistance beyond contract. How quickly they have forgotten that someone early in their career provided the very services they are denying the youth of Tiverton. Working to “rule” is extremely hurtful to the very individuals these so-called professionals professed they wanted to help when they entered the field of teaching.
Not too long ago, the town finalized police and fire contracts, which provided relief for both the community and the unions, after more than a year and a half of working without a contract. Not once during the contract dispute did any fireman/EMT fail to provide public safety services for our residents. Not once was a ride to the hospital held hostage over their contract dispute. Nor did any police officer fail to protect the citizens anywhere within Tiverton. Respect is earned through rational actions and appropriate demeanor, not through underhanded tactics that exploit the future of our youth and bombastic lies about the actions of the school committee.

And any readers who have followed Anchor Rising’s interactions with members of the NEA will find that this sounds very familiar:

While the recent actions taken by the teachers against children are truly unprofessional, their statements condemning the School Committee for hiding a million dollars in their budget is so far out of line it can only be described as utter desperation. After repeated requests by the school committee to the union to substantiate their claim, the union has not offered one scintilla of financial evidence to support their allegation. Obviously, their latest negotiation tactics has resorted to throwing crap against the wall hoping some part of it will stick. Their willingness to say anything to rally community support is nothing more than a childish attempt to fractionalize the community.

Take note, all students of the sort who haggle with teachers over their scores on tests and papers, of the example that those teachers’ union is setting. Evidence is optional.

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Monique
Monique(@monique-chartier)
Editor
14 years ago

“Evidence is optional.”
Not at a trial. But there would be ample evidence of damage.
And that would create the basis for a class action lawsuit by the seniors. Defendant list to include the teachers’ union(s).
It may or may not be successful ultimately. But it would have to be defended. And unlike the teachers’ unions, the senior students could probably find pro bono representation to file and carry out the lawsuit. Rightly or wrongly, lots of people are quite annoyed at the teachers’ unions in Rhode Island. And at the teachers for not standing up for their profession. Or for hiding behind their union.
Or all of the above.

rhody
rhody
14 years ago

The teachers have made a huge tactical mistake denying the kids services they’re used to. The unions should be concentrating their fire on the School Committee instead of making enemies out of potential allies like the kids and the parents.
When i was involved in a job action (picketing, but not a strike) a few years ago, our strategy was to get community support, which we achieved to a certain extent. Our union president told us beforehand that we had to make sure everything we did on the job was professional and above board, so the company would not have any excuse to act against us.
If only the teachers took that advice.

Greg
Greg
14 years ago

The union still hasn’t got that the world has changed and they are outmoded, outdated and obsolete and the taxpayers aren’t going to stand for their crap anymore.

ken
ken
14 years ago

The state of RI employees work 35 hours a week and in some departments overtime is prohibited due to budget deficits. When authorized, state employees get paid overtime for any hours worked beyond normal work hours.
In private business, industry, companies and organizations people work average 40 hours a week and are paid overtime for any time worked beyond normal working hours
City and municipal worker also receive same overtime benefits except teachers (teachers are municipal employees).
My understanding of “work to rule” is you work the number of contract hours be it 35, 38 or 40 hours a week by reporting at the required time and leaving at the required hour and completing only those tasking that are included in the contract.
If the school department and school committee wanted extra curriculum and overtime hours covered by teachers then they should have requirements written into the teacher contract and pay teachers the overtime rate.
If the parents are so worried about their children’s lost of extra curriculum activities then the Tiverton PTO/PTA should be stepping in to help the students.
Has anyne seen the Tiverton PTO/PTA?

Justin Katz
14 years ago

Ken,
Teachers are salaried because — as is usually the case for salaried professionals — their jobs encompass a range of activities that aren’t easily enumerable in an hour-based contract. I guess the point of work to rule is to illustrate how much “extra” teachers do, but to professionals with integrity and pride in what they do, that which is not contracted is still integral. Moreover, in a situation with limited funds, requiring that teachers be paid for all of the “extras” would too often mean that the “extras” are canceled.
As for the PTO/PTA, I haven’t much experience on that end. My general sense is that they try to stay out of these things and, if anything, lean toward the teachers’ side. At any rate, parents obviously can’t step in and do such things as write recommendations; it also isn’t such a simple matter for them to offer extra help when they don’t have direct access to the teacher’s educational plan; and at least in Massachusetts, where I taught as a long-term sub for a few months, there’s quite a process of background checks and stuff before a parent is allowed to do anything in a quasi-official capacity with the children.

chuckR
chuckR
14 years ago

Ken
You cannot be a professional and work to rule. You choose.
You cannot be a professional and work a shorter week with your hand out for overtime at every opportunity. This isn’t how things are done in the real world. Professionals who are state/muni workers should also be barred from doing it.

jd
jd
14 years ago

“In private business, industry, companies and organizations people work average 40 hours a week and are paid overtime for any time worked beyond normal working hours”
Is this a joke? The only way Ken will ever see reality is if it’s stuck up his own ass along with his head. Most “professionals” I know work well over 40 hours a week (I work at least 45 and many times over 50) with no additional pay. It’s called casual overtime and if I don’t like it I know where the door is.

johnpaycheck
johnpaycheck
14 years ago

If the school department and school committee wanted extra curriculum and overtime hours covered by teachers then they should have requirements written into the teacher contract and pay teachers the overtime rate.
over the last 25 years, the nea has worked very hard at having the jib desription and required workload generalized and devoid of specifics for this very purpose. the contracts have been designed for work to rule.
so when their is a situation like tiverton, then the teachers can claim they are doing everything they are supposed to do. which is show up at class and virtually nothing else.
professionals…???the world is no longer flat and there is just no money left in ri. they juat dont get it. you will see a very different ga this year.

Tim
Tim
14 years ago

Embarrassing!

Frederick
Frederick
14 years ago

Could a professional in the world outside of education give some examples of the “extras” they do which add hours to their work day or week? In other words, the things you are not specifically “contracted” to do, but you do anyway because you are a “professional”. I’ll take you word for it that they are not in your “contract”/”job description”.
It would be nice if there were examples from more than one profession. Thanks.

Monique
Monique(@monique-chartier)
Editor
14 years ago

“Could a professional in the world outside of education give some examples of the “extras” they do which add hours to their work day or week?”
All of the things that must be done as part of our jobs. But it cannot always be done in eight hours. As JD said, if we don’t like it, we know where the door is.

chuckR
chuckR
14 years ago

Frederick
Engineering/computational mechanics – as a first job, employee at will, “contracted” to work sufficient hours to get the tasks assigned by my employers done. “Extras” included evening instruction, travel on evenings and weekends, entertaining clients (not always so much fun as you might imagine), “homework” included review and study of technical documentation, journal articles and so forth. Participation in technical societies encouraged. Second job as a consultant – all the above plus all the hassles of running a business including dealing with government red tape from the Feds and multiple states.
I have pulled more all nighters in business than I ever did in college, both as employee and self employed.

John
John
14 years ago

Frederick,
The premise of your question perfectly captures the Grand Canyon style gap in understanding that exists. Few professionals have union contracts — think about it: lawyers, doctors, engineers, architects, military officers, managers, bankers, scientists, etc.
Pilots, teachers and others who simutaneously claim both professional status and the “benefits” of union solidarity (i.e., promote on seniority, longevity pay, restrictive work rules, multiple job classifications etc.) have seen their productivity and respect in the eyes of their professional peers deeply undermined.
The very fact that you asked the question you did just shows that you “don’t get it.”

Frederick
Frederick
14 years ago

Thank you Chuck, I was looking for specifics and that is what you gave me!
John: You are the one that “doesn’t get it”. I asked for examples of things you did in YOUR job that you were not specifically “contracted” to do. You did them, however, and thus met your definition of ” a professional”. Give me some credit. Perhaps, I am trying to learn from the example from other professions.
Monique: I, too, stay until my job is done, usually eight hours or more a day!

Greg
Greg
14 years ago

“I, too, stay until my job is done, usually eight hours or more a day!”
A whole eight hours?! How can you survive the stress?

Frederick
Frederick
14 years ago

Greg: I’m darned if I do and darned if I don’t!!
If I said I only worked six, you’d be saying “see, he is one of those lazy teachers”. When I say I work eight, I must be whining about it or incredibly stressed.
Can’t win!!

ken
ken
14 years ago

Justin, “Teachers are salaried because — as is usually the case for salaried professionals — their jobs encompass a range of activities that aren’t easily enumerable in an hour-based contract.” According to Federal “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) law a teacher can have a bachelors, masters or PhD, state license and have taught 25 years in schools but they are not a qualified educator unless they take and pass the federal administered test to be certified in their education field. If they fail the test, they are to be fired and teachers and principals across the United States have been removed from the classroom and schools for failing the test. NEA and AFT has no recourse with this law. Isn’t wonderful a person can invest all the money, time and years and it all comes down to one test administered remotely from Washington, DC. Federal NCLB does not address teachers as professionals but as qualified and highly qualified. Salaried professionals can be compensated overtime on hourly bases. It depends upon what is written in the contract or position description. In some RI communities depending on contract language, the school committee and school department management get the same raise as teacher contract negations. Federal Government, State of RI, municipalities and private corporations/companies all provide overtime compensation to their salaried professionals when authorized. My tenure as a professional manager working for a private corporation required my salary be provided once a month and I also received overtime when authorized. Most all of my other professional salaried and management positions also offered compensation for extended hours and travel. I put in my share of 18 hour days but was compensated for the extra hours. That is why I was able to retire early, sit back and watch everyone else burn the midnight oil.… Read more »

Pat Crowley
Pat Crowley
14 years ago

The Cote letter is a perfect example of how the School Committee is spreading mis truths.
The fact is, kids are getting recommendations written, class projects are going on, etc. If Mr. Cote would cite his source for his version of the truth, I bet it comes from the school committee.
He references the police and fire contract — contracts that have the benefit of binding arbitration. Also, the town agreed to decent raises and no increases in co-share.
PS. Also. No one has ever claimed they are hiding a million dollars. What we have claimed is that they are wasting millions of dollars and cold have saved more if they did their homework.

kr
kr
14 years ago

“He references the police and fire contract — contracts that have the benefit of binding arbitration. Also, the town agreed to decent raises and no increases in co-share.”
Speaking as a member of one of these groups, Mr. Crowley should stick to what he knows about the schools. Not only has either department gone to contract arbitration for at least 4 years, my co-share went up a few hundred this year, some co-pays were increased over the life of the contract and our COL raises were split up to help the budget process. During my career we went about 4 years without a contract and never missed a call and did our jobs, just like Providence Fire does.

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