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The Autobiography of Russell
Life from a different perspective
News: Central Falls Rhode Island Fires Every High School Teacher
Central Falls Rhode Island Fires Every High School Teacher

Central Falls is one of the poorest towns in the state. It looks like the pictures everyone's seen of Detroit or Flint. There are lots of boarded up windows, abandoned buildings, decrepit factories with broken windows, etc. It's an absolutely depressed community. According to Wikipedia, the median income in the town is $22k.

Teacher salaries at the high school average $72-78k. Apparently 50% of the students at the school are failing all of their classes, and the graduation rate is also under 50%. In an effort to turn the school around, the superintendent requested some changes be made whereby the school day would be slightly extended, teachers would perform some extra tutoring, etc.

The union balked and refused the terms, so now she is firing the entire teaching staff of the high school and replacing them. This is yet another example of unions digging their own graves by refusing to negotiate or accept reasonable terms. Sentiment is on the side of the superintendent, at least among the folks I have discussed the issue with.

And what exactly were the changes expected?

The conditions are adding 25 minutes to the school day, providing [one hour of] tutoring on a rotating schedule before and after school, eating lunch with students once a week, submitting to more rigorous evaluations, attending weekly after-school planning sessions with other teachers and participating in two weeks of training in the summer.

It seems extremely messed up that the teachers, or at least their 'union', are balking at these suggestions. The superintendant even tried to compromise with the union by offering extra money for some of the changes, including an extra 30$ an hour for the two additional weeks of training in the summer and the 90 minutes a week of after-school planning time.

The union is holding out for 90$ an hour.

Current Music: "Life In Technicolor II" by "Coldplay" on "Prospekt's March" (Pandora)

6 comments or Leave a comment
From: better_angel Date: February 20th, 2010 07:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's a high salary for any high school teacher--especially in a very impoverished town where it's likely local taxes contribute toward teacher pay. The place I grew up in Pennsylvania is like this; teachers are reviled because they earn so much more than the average person who clocks in and out and works all day, all year.

They should also be required to have regular parent meetings (as opposed to the typical annual open house, etc...)
zimzat From: zimzat Date: February 20th, 2010 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
They should also be required to have regular parent meetings (as opposed to the typical annual open house, etc...)

This reminded me of Lean On Me. In the movie, at least, the teachers were actually willing to volunteer extra time to tutor the kids. According to some parts of the movie they even brought in the parents to teach them if they didn't understand basic concepts like reading, basic arithmetic, etc. How true that particular part is I'm not sure, but it's a warm fuzzy thought. heh
legolastn From: legolastn Date: February 20th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I dunno. It's certainly hard to be sympathetic with teachers making well above median income asking for more pay given the current economic climate, given teacher compensation in general, and given the school's performance record. On the other hand, this is an arrangement likely to last beyond the current economic downturn, that some teachers are perhaps not being compensated adequately for the work they do does not mean those who are should be begrudged, and the student's performance is not entirely a reflection of teacher performance. The union says none of the teachers currently has an unsatisfactory performance record and several of the students and parents interviewed by the media mentioned that teachers are already voluntarily staying extra time after school to help students. Of course, I'm not sure who is doing the evaluating and apparently this was a concern of the superintendent's since one of her requirements is evaluations from an outside company.

According to the articles I've read about the situation, the union was not balking at the suggestions, but rather at having everything dictated to them rather than negotiated. In other words, they don't want the precedent of being handed down their employment terms. Apparently she was only guaranteeing the extra pay for the summer training, and I'm not clear on whether that was part of a compromise or just her original offer, so the only thing I've clearly read that she was willing to negotiate on was being able to fire fewer teachers. On the other hand, as the author of the article you linked to implies, maybe now was not the time to stand on principle.
mcfnord From: mcfnord Date: February 20th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
it's a great time to hire skilled labor at sound prices! the union should have known this!
raist_ From: raist_ Date: February 23rd, 2010 01:07 am (UTC) (Link)
The pictures that everyone has seen of Flint?
I used to live there, and grew up around it. And I avoid getting near Detroit like the plague.

The reason their pay is so high above median is because it's hazard pay. Noone wants to work in those sort of places because of the crime rates and other problems.
zimzat From: zimzat Date: February 23rd, 2010 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I figured it ran toward that direction. In those conditions I don't begrudge them their pay rate. What I don't understand is their refusal to the extra work with reasonable compensation.

But then I guess if they're the only ones willing to work in the hazardous conditions then maybe they're not really up for the job? Okay, probably not the real reason, but it's an amusing pun, heh.
6 comments or Leave a comment