Providence Teacher Layoffs: The Era of Cutting Begins?
It’s been explained again and again that the pink slips are a technical response to fiscal realities. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped the hyperbolic rhetoric from continuing to flow from Providence teacher union leadership once the pink slips were issued. (I guess once we heard the Pearl Harbor reference, we shouldn’t have been surprised). To act like this technical maneuver is an actual firing of 1,900 teachers is completely disingenuous, never mind saying its union busting. Both the mayor and superintendent have stated most teachers will be hired back. This is nothing more than crying wolf and amping up the rhetoric to a fever pitch. All for what? Power? I don’t know.
Look, it’s just a bad situation that has been allowed to get worse and worse due to myopic kicking-the-can-down-the-road on the part of union leadership and Democratic politicians in Providence for decades. Now the chickens are roosting and contemporary teachers are paying for the sins of the past. I can understand the frustration and the fear and paranoia, but private sector workers deal with those worries regularly and still manage to function as professionals.
For instance, I’ve heard complaints that the administration is going to cherry-pick the senior teachers–regardless of performance–to save more money. Guess what? It routinely happens in the private sector, particularly amongst the same professional class that teachers are part of. Middle-management? They are ripe for salary pruning all the time.
My point isn’t that misery loves company, it’s that this is the new reality. Much like the 1990’s were a “vacation from history” (a la Fukuyama), unionized public employee unions have had a vacation from “economics” for a few decades. The private sector and general public paid for that vacation and have told elected officials we can’t pay anymore. So, the cutting has begun.