Not content to leave it at that, where they might lose, the teachers lobby took their case to the General Assembly and got sweetheart legislation drafted that would require cities and towns to adhere to the former contract for as long as it took to obtain a new contract. Tying school committees’ hands like this would mean that municipalities, no matter how cash strapped, would have to bargain on a new contract with the former contract still in place, and it would render
As it did with forcing continuance of dog racing at
Unfortunately, it’s all part of a well-worn pattern. Teacher unions, led by the NEA-RI, routinely oppose anything that would in any way challenge or diminish their established power. At their behest, legislators also tried to shoot down a modest expansion of the charter school program in the state because, naturally, the teachers unions instinctively oppose charter schools and the recently introduced program of mayoral academies. The General Assembly only restored the funding when threatened with a loss of federal dollars by the Obama administration’s Education Secretary.
As another example of how constituencies are beginning to fight back against the iron grip of the teacher unions, at the request of the state education commissioner the city of Providence has just announced that it will henceforth allow its school principals to begin filling teacher vacancies based on the best match for the classroom and not, as the practice has been, on simple seniority. Of course, the union is threatening to sue. Hopefully they’ll tackle merit pay based on classroom performance next
Teacher unions across the nation have traditionally approached contract negotiations and their classroom roles guided by an inflexible industrial model, as if teaching students was akin to turning out widgets in a factory. The results of this outdated and stultifying approach is where we find ourselves today, with falling student performance and shockingly low graduation rates, despite the enormous sums we pay for secondary education, most of which goes not to students, classrooms or activities but rather to pay and benefits for unionized teachers.
Communities simply cannot sustain these costs, which is why they’re beginning to push back in regaining some of the authority and management rights they turned over to the unions in round after round of successive pro-union contracts. More power to them in restriking a more proper balance.