Monday, September 19, 2011

This will be a Useless Exercise

Karina Wood:

It is super-important that lots of parents from all across Providence come to the following Council hearings and meetings this week at City Hall and speak out on the teachers contract.

Issues to raise could include:

  • teacher hiring policy: is the Criterion-Based Hiring (interview) agreement in this contract null and void because all vacancies will be filled internally with the teachers who currently have no positions?
  • no recess time allocated in school day
  • abolition of site-based management
  • no parent-teacher meetings required in school year
  • school day lengthened by just 5 minutes this year and to just 15 mins in 3 years' time
  • no improvement in restoring art and music to our schools

Having just skimmed over the copy of the contract Ms. Wood's organization has helpfully posted, it seems crystal clear that the answer to the first and most important question is "no." That is, the new hiring process is explicitly slated to begin after ratification of the contract, which the city council hasn't done yet (that's what these meetings are about). And it is also made perfectly clear in an appendix that the district was going to make assignments this year.

Of course, one might ask the broader "Are teacher contracts actually binding in RI?" question, to which the answer appears to be "No," but if that's true then this whole conversation is pointless.

Site-based management was already dead, art and recess aren't really part of the contract at all. I don't think the parent-teacher meeting language has changed. Is this an actual or hypothetical problem?

Then we get to extending the school day more than 15 minutes -- without giving teachers raises. How far do you want to go with this now? We already had the mayor fire all the teachers and usurp the School Board's role in contract negotiations. Is the city council going to cut him off at the knees next? Is this worth putting a bunch of lawsuits back on the table, possibly extended labor strife (work to rule, etc), lending strength to arguments for binding arbitration, etc, etc. Shouldn't we just put this behind us and get to work?

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