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.
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.