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.)