Taxpayer Group’s Message Spun
The East Providence Taxpayer Association is getting a lot of well deserved press, lately. The dispute in their city is big news, and the EPTA is keeping a consistent and measured message out there. From today’s Providence Journal:
Standing in the cold outside East Providence High School yesterday, a lone spokesman for the East Providence Taxpayer Association said public school teachers are being misinformed by their union in their ongoing dispute with the School Committee.
“We are pleading with our teachers not to let an out-of-touch leadership lead them off a cliff that perhaps will result in layoffs, missed payrolls or even the closing of the school system,” William Murphy said. “Solidarity is little consolation at the bottom of the abyss.”
In a statement, the association said one misconception is that the teachers were “attacked and victimized” by the School Committee when it decided earlier this month to reduce the teachers’ salaries by nearly 5 percent and force the educators to pay 20 percent of their health insurance costs. The taxpayers group said the changes were “in no way motivated by the ill will toward teachers.”
Of course, it’s worth a moment’s note that the Projo’s headline for the report amounts to spin: “Taxpayer group says teachers misinformed.” The group’s tempered plea thus becomes an insult. Yesterday’s Projo headline was “Taxpayer group criticizes teachers.” Funny how the passive voice comes and goes. It would not have been grammatically unusual for the paper to have gone with “Teachers’ Behavior Criticized.”
The phrasing is a matter of interest within the belly of Alisha Pina’s Friday report, as well:
The audience erupted in cheers when union President Valarie Lawson told the committee it should accept a recent arbitrator’s recommendation for a new contract, which included a wage freeze this year and teachers’ contributions to health care that would increase to 15 percent — 5 percent this year and 10 percent next year — within three years. She said the teachers were willing and simply want to get back to the business of teaching.
The rest of the meeting was dominated by boos and outbursts, most of which were directed at School Committee Chairman Anthony A. Carcieri.
Note that it was the entire audience — not the teachers and their unionist allies — who applauded the union president and that the union supporters are taken entirely out of the sentence about “boos and outbursts.” Teachers of English and writing take note: These are some illustrative examples of bias’s insertion into ostensibly neutral reportage.