The Most Basic Requirements
In a letter to the editor of the Sakonnet Times (not online), Tiverton High School physics and chemistry teacher Richard Bernardo offers general encouragement to everybody involved in the contract disputes to “roll up [their] sleeves and [get] the job done.” In light of news released since Mr. Bernardo penned his letter, this part sticks out:
The teachers are desperate; they are desperate because, in reality, they are in the fifth year of a three-year contract. Lying underneath the fact is the reality that they knew a long time ago that they had chosen a profession such that they would be underpaid and under-appreciated. However, the current development was not expected; this is their livelihood, their bread-and-butter, on the table; in spite of everything, they fear that they have failed at this most basic of life’s requirements.
Having looked at the step levels of Tiverton teachers (which increases they’ve continued to receive, along with annual raises, except for this year… so far), I’d say Mr. Bernardo’s being a bit melodramatic. Those teachers, however, who are affected by the news that I mentioned above, would be justified in feeling desperate:
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the School Committee agreed to send nonrenewal notices to 34 teachers for the next school year. State law requires teachers be notified before March 1 if there is a chance they might be laid off the following school year.
The notices will go to 15 teachers at the middle school, 12 at the high school, and 7 at elementary schools, Fiore said.
Squirm as the union might, the money is simply not there, and the union method requires an all-or-nothing approach that is leaving 34 teachers with nothing (at least when it comes to a contract for next year). Making matters worse, Tiverton’s teachers won’t be alone in the East Bay answering education want ads.
I’m truly sorry to hear about lost jobs, not the least because, as a parent, I’d prefer for the services that the district offers to be increasing. That might save me the time (at least) of looking into private schools. But as long as teachers continue to tie their fortunes to an organization that handles them as factory workers and must justify its existence — with emphasis on those with longevity — solutions for accommodating everybody will be illusory.