The Union Death Grip

What we’re seeing across Rhode Island, from Tiverton to East Providence, to West Warwick, and now to Johnston is the essential nature of the teachers’ unions:

Resistance from the teachers’ union has forced the Johnston school system to abandon its leading role in a $12.5-million project to dramatically upgrade science and math education across Rhode Island, school officials said yesterday.
The town’s top educators withdrew from the effort after learning that the district’s science teachers would not participate in the program, which Governor Carcieri last September heralded as essential for the development of a work force in an increasingly challenging global economy. …
In Johnston, only 16 percent of its 11th-graders were proficient in science.
“We could have gotten things that we normally could not afford, especially in this economy that we’re in,” Schools Supt. Margaret Iacovelli said yesterday when asked about the district’s withdrawal from the program. “I’m really disappointed.”

School committees and superintendents have been unwilling, in the past, to tie the unions’ hardball tactics to significant detriments to students, so year by year, they have incrementally introduced those detriments a little at a time. Now the money has run out, the minimally controversial excisions have all been made, and the unions’ teeth are coming out.
ADDENDUM:
The governor has released the following statement:

The decision by the Johnston School Department to leave the five year science and mathematics pilot project to upgrade science and math education in the state was met by surprise and great disappointment by Governor Carcieri today.
“This was a tremendous opportunity for Johnston to forge a new path in math and science education in Rhode Island,” said Governor Carcieri. “It represented a chance for the Johnston School District to use new tools and resources for their teachers and students to improve students’ proficiency in the critical areas of science and math. This decision by the Johnston teacher’s union to pull the plug on their own members is spiteful, and in the end only hurts the students.”
The decision by Johnston School Department will not derail or delay the project. The Rhode Island Department of Education has already identified a list of schools to participate in year two of the five year pilot program and will choose to accelerate one of those schools to now participate in year one. RIDE is expected to make a decision within the next week.
“We have received overwhelming response from school districts eager to participate. However, it is disappointing that Johnston has stepped away from the project, and it is a shame that the students will be deprived of the chance to participate,” concluded Carcieri.

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Patrick
Patrick
12 years ago

Gotta love that work to rule, even to the detriment of education.
” Neither Kathleen P. Kandzierski, president of the teachers’ union, nor Robert Casey of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, responded to several requests to explain their union’s reasoning. However, Kathryn Crowley, assistant superintendent, linked the union’s refusal to its dissatisfaction with the way contract negotiations are going.
Teachers have been working without a contract since Aug. 31. The union and the School Department are currently involved in mediation. “

Tom W
Tom W
12 years ago

It’s all “for the children.”
That is, the unionized “teachers” themselves, having a “collective” temper tantrum because they aren’t getting their way.
Spoiled brats who need an “IEP” to address their delayed development into the real world of adulthood and the workplace.

John
John
12 years ago

Kandzierski and Casey are the worst of the worst when it comes to teachers and their union hatchet men.
They truly believe that contract negotiations can only move in one direction…MORE FOR THE UNION!
They need to be slapped down and dealt with harshly by the school committee, I hope they’re up to the challenge and don’t collapse like the committee did in the last contract settlement three years ago.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
12 years ago

Does everyone understand why I call these people absolute, total PIGS??

rhody
rhody
12 years ago

Would you tell your children’s teachers to their faces that they’re pigs?
I think people on both sides of the issue sometimes wonder who the adults are and who the kids are.

Bill
Bill
12 years ago

They ARE PIGS and I for one DID tell the teachers in my town how I felt to their faces! The teachers have ZERO respect for the parents, kids, taxpayers etc… Their only concern is getting what they THINK they deserve. 16% proficiency in math, are you kidding me? If my performance at my job were that miserable I’d be on the unemployment line so fast it would make my head spin…but why should we hold these “professionals” to any sort of standards? I’ve posted before and stand by my call to FIRE every single one of them. The argument of not painting every teacher with the same broad brush doesn’t even apply anymore. If the good ones can’t even have the balls to stand up for the kids and tell the union and the crappy teachers to shut up and be happy with what they have, then they suck too. I have owned my own company for the last 26 years. I pay $14,000.00 per year for my family’s healthcare. I work as many days and hours as it takes to get my job done. I don’t have weekends, holidays and summers off. I don’t need some contract to tell me when it’s time to wipe my #@! This is complete madness. How can a selective group keep asking for more and more when there is less and less. Obviously these leeches don’t read a newspaper and see that we’re at 10% unemployment, perhaps because the reading proficiency rate is in the 30 percentile. One of the local banks just had a job fair for 20 jobs and hundreds came and applied. Let’s have a job fair at every school and let’s see how many willing, able and grateful people would show up for those jobs, happily paying 25%… Read more »

dude
dude
12 years ago

I missed this on your site, but caught it in the ProJo last night. These teachers are an absolute disgrace to their profession.
To put their own inflated interestes aheads of the interests of their students, the state and the country, is just contemptible.
Could the Governor get away with doing what Ronald Reagan did in the 1980’s… just fire them all wholesale for “state emergency” purposes?

Phil
Phil
12 years ago

Dude
Are you saying that we need more unemployment and wholesale disruption of the educational system.

Bill
Bill
12 years ago

It’s a starting point….YES….FIRE THEM and let them see how good they really did have it.

Frank
Frank
12 years ago

Phil,
There would not be any MORE unemployment. Fired teachers would be replaced with currently unemployed individuals. And as new people are hired at a lower pay rate there is a very high probability that more teachers could be hired than were let go (you know to restore lost educational programs and such), which would lower the unemployment rate!
Wholesale disruption of the RI public school system may just be exactly what it needs. What have we got to lose?

Frank
Frank
12 years ago

Tom W said:
It’s all “for the children.”
That is, the unionized “teachers” themselves, having a “collective” temper tantrum because they aren’t getting their way.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha … very, very funny!

katherine
katherine
12 years ago

Friends,
There are not highly qualified educatiors waiting in the wings to rescue school committeess for thier own stupidity. There are classes being split up daily across the state when a teacher is out- sick or on professional development- because there are no substitutes. The groups of 4-5 students sit in the back of other classrooms doing busy work all day b/c THERE ARE NO SUBS! Are you going to fill the schools with unemployed people regardless of their training, strictly on the basis of thier unemployment? To meet whose needs? Not the childrens.

katherine
katherine
12 years ago

Friends,
There are not highly qualified educatiors waiting in the wings to rescue school committeess for thier own stupidity. There are classes being split up daily across the state when a teacher is out- sick or on professional development- because there are no substitutes. The groups of 4-5 students sit in the back of other classrooms doing busy work all day b/c THERE ARE NO SUBS! Are you going to fill the schools with unemployed people regardless of their training, strictly on the basis of thier unemployment? To meet whose needs? Not the childrens.

Phil
Phil
12 years ago

Wholesale disruption of the RI public school system may just be exactly what it needs. What have we got to lose?
Posted by Frank at February 5, 2009 10:33 AM
One question. What is the color of the sky in your world?

rhody
rhody
12 years ago

The people who want wholesale teacher firings…let’s file it under “be careful what you wish for.”
Let’s make a deal: Throw them all out, and hire inexperienced teachers at lower pay, and you keep your mouths shut about the educational shortcomings of these new teachers.
Still willing to accept the deal? It means keeping your mouths shut, remember.

rhody
rhody
12 years ago

The people who want wholesale teacher firings…let’s file it under “be careful what you wish for.”
Let’s make a deal: Throw them all out, and hire inexperienced teachers at lower pay, and you keep your mouths shut about the educational shortcomings of these new teachers.
Still willing to accept the deal? It means keeping your mouths shut, remember.

Bill
Bill
12 years ago

Rhody,
Let’s just keep paying for the “experienced” teachers that fail to educate our kids. Let’s pay for the “experienced” teachers that hold us up for more money every three years but fail to show any significant increase in our childrens grades. Don’t forget…not everyone entering the workplace is immediately “experienced”. Let the new ones in and let them know that there are standards and that they don’t just need to hone their math skills at our expense every three years. How long have you or your spouse been a teacher?

bobc
bobc
12 years ago

rhody,
No, we will not keep our mouths shut when we have all new teachers. That’s our job, to keep an eye on our government and the employees. What color is the sky in your world?

Angry warwick parent
Angry warwick parent
12 years ago

Bob Casey. Isn’t he the same guy (chief negotiator) who put Warwick through three plus years of work to rule?
Glad to see the Johnston teachers picked a guy who really cares about kids.

Will
12 years ago

“There are not highly qualified educatiors waiting in the wings to rescue school committeess for thier own stupidity.”
Guessing you went to public school? Try spell check: “educatiors” “committeess” “thier.” Anyway…
I don’t happen to think many of the people being currently employed as teachers are highly qualified, otherwise the children would be receiving a much better education.
By the way, the statement I quoted above presumes that any replacement teachers would be coming from within Rhode Island, and not out of state.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
12 years ago

Even if there aren’t lots of substitutes now, there’d be lots of applicants for permanent positions (I wouldn’t call public school teaching positions “full time” for they aren’t).
Education degrees are easy to get – not much rigor involved.
Good pay, no accountability, summers off.
Almost like an extended internship in preparation for retiring with that fat pension.
SWEET!

rhody
rhody
12 years ago

Bill, bobc, can I put you both down for “no,” then?
If you guys want the right to complain about the new teachers, who am I to deny you? Just don’t get upset if some of these younger teachers who will be making less money fight back when they’re criticized by the likes of you.
BTW, there are no teachers in my family, either public or private schools. You know what they say about those who assume…

Justin Katz
12 years ago

Katherine,
Regardless of whether your conclusion is accurate, the substitute teacher list is hardly evidence. Substitutes make relatively little for their days, they typically don’t know until the morning whether or where they’ll be working, and those calls typically come during the wee hours. I submit to you that highly qualified people who would like to be educators are not likely to tolerate that lifestyle.
I’d further suggest that massive openings in the public school system would attract:
1. Teachers willing to work outside of the union.
2. Teachers currently getting by on private-school salaries.
3. Other professionals interested in teaching (if we’re savvy enough to clear a path for them).

Phil
Phil
12 years ago

2. Teachers currently getting by on private-school salaries.
Justin
Why would private school teachers flee their current positions to get a chance to teach in public schools. Capitalism has assigned them their level of renumeration for the work that they do. Are you saying that that is not enough. Maybe they have tried to get hired in the public schools and have failed to pass the grade. Do you want to hire the second string. Considering what many on this blog say about the public school teachers currently working imagine what you would get if you went to the those that have failed to land positions when they competed with those that you want to replace.

Monique
Editor
12 years ago

As Justin said, the non-availability of substitutes is no indication.
How many applicants can be expected for a part time, temp job that pays less than $10/hour, no bennies and you don’t know until that morning if you’ll have work that day? Now how many applicants would there be for a regular, full time job at over $30/hour plus bennies?

rhody
rhody
12 years ago

I’d be very careful about saying teachers at private schools couldn’t get hired at public schools, or that they’d all jump.
I went to a Catholic high school and had some terrific lay teachers, several of whom are still there almost 30 years later. I don’t pretend to know anything about pay there, but I’d say of the best teachers there have developed enough loyalty to the school (and vice versa) that they might not necessarily leave if they had the chance for a better-paying public school job.
Similarly, there were also those who used it as a stopping-off point until they could get a public school job, and there were also some mediocre teachers as well (I was fortunate enough as an honors student to get mostly the best). I really don’t think the ratio of hard-working, dedicated teachers to those just there to collect the check is that different between private and public schools.
I wonder about how the quality of teaching at Catholic schools at the lower levels has held up, though. I was the oldest, and never really sought to go to public school (the teachers I had prior to high school were a mixed bag). My sister, however, went public in Grade 7, and my brother was dying to get out of Catholic school by Grade 4. Even my father, a staunch Catholic, saw the writing on the wall.

Nony Mouse
Nony Mouse
12 years ago

Wow … its amazing that people aren’t just lining up for teaching jobs … you losers wouldn’t last a week in a real classroom …

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