An Ear on the “Controlled Environment,” or Why Regular Townsfolk Don’t Participate

Now that I’ve discovered that I already had the technology to record audio at these events, I’ll be able to let Anchor Rising readers better appreciate the experience of sitting in an auditorium surrounded by people with a financial interest in the proceedings. (I apologize for the sound of me typing; I’ll get better at this.)
First, here’s Tom Parker reading his letter to the school committee: stream, download.
Here’s Deb Pallasch’s speech in favor of the teacher contract: stream, download. Note, especially her telling closer:

I would just ask, for all of us that are in the system, that you do consider to move past it — approve it like you did the other two [the facilities and administrators contracts]. And let’s start working on the new one, and give ourselves a little bit of room to refocus on the classroom and away from the adults.

I submit that Ms. Pallasch’s admission that teachers are incapable of keeping their professional focus on the classroom while negotiating employment contracts is ample evidence that teacher unionization has got to end.
Now give a listen to the sequence of events when Tom returned to the microphone to insist that his suggestion is reasonable: stream, download.
My equipment didn’t fully pick up the low rumble of the teachers’ reaction, but you can get the sense of what any citizen speaking against their demands would face. Note what happened next: Quite naturally, Tom turned around to address those who were attacking him from behind, and School Committee Chairman Jan Bergandy chastised him.
Overall, what struck me — as a construction worker who knows people who are being laid off, as well as some who are being asked to take actual reductions in pay and benefits — was the utter greed of the unionists. The town is raising taxes well past the state cap and, more importantly, well past what struggling families can afford, and people who are already compensated above the median Rhode Island household are acting as if tighter boundaries on their increases in pay are oppressive.
Their argument is that “the money is there” for such things as retroactive pay back to 2007, so that they can receive raises for their year of working to rule (which, a resident informed me after the meeting, did indeed cost students such things as teacher recommendations for college). The school committee should rephrase that to “money is there.” There’s no “the”; until the contract is approved, the teachers have no more claim to that money than, say, the students who still attend debilitated classrooms and have ever-more-limited opportunities as funds dry up. (Or even, perhaps, the parents who are so concerned about the effects of this environment on their children that they’re struggling even more to pay for private school.)

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15 years ago

Just another example of how these people are living in a dream world. Turn on the television, read a paper, read the internet, EVERYONE else are either losing their jobs, benefits and homes or are taking HUGE cuts in pay in order to keep what they have. The teachers plod along, and I mean plod, barely doing what’s in their contracts and all the while putting their hands out demanding more! Why do they receive anything for the time that they worked to rule? I’ve asked this before….how do my kids get compensated for their year of missed opportunity as a result of these money hungry leeches? I will say it again…FIRE every last one of them and start over from scratch with wage and benefit packages that are actually in sinc with what the rest of America earns. I guarantee you there will be no shortage of teachers willing to snap up the new jobs when these bums get fired. They keep harping on how “professional” they are…are you kidding? My wife worked as a sub for ONE day and was appalled at how lazy these people were. There was no teaching going on…instead they were spending most of their time talking about their contracts. FIRE THEM and let’s be done with them. Let them see what it’s like to have to actually earn a living and support a household without the crutch of a contract!

15 years ago

Bill – you are right on. I wish I knew how to see it accomplished. I guess we’ll have to keep praying for true school choice some day.

15 years ago

Know when it will get accomplished? When people finally have the balls to say enough is enough. The teachers just sit back and wait and wait and wait, all the while “working to rule” and then they receive retroactive pay and benefits…why? My kids lost a year of their education because these scumbags deserved more? Then they get it! How for the seventeen thousandth time do my kids get their education back? I paid for it but didn’t get what I paid for. There should be leadership with the balls to tell any school district that the minute they engage in “work to rule” that every single teacher in that district can expect to be fired immediately with absolutely no chance of being rehired. Watch how fast the teachers that realize how good they already have it tell the other greedy pigs to knock it off, shut up and get to work! Let them police each other for a change so that we don’t have to waste our breath trying to make them realize how good they really do have it. I have owned my own company for the last 25 years. I did not go to college yet am able, somehow, to be able to get up every day and actually go to work and earn the money to support a beautiful family, a home, a vacation home, my own healthcare and everything else I want. I don’t need a union to speak on my behalf and don’t need a contract spelling out what I will and will not do. If I want something, I need to do whatever it takes to obtain that thing, on my own, without making someone else give it to me. I was taught very early on that if you work hard and make… Read more »

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