11/3/09

It's Time for Clawback Against Teacher Unions

I find it pathetic that the East Providencer teachers union is pushing ahead with a lawsuit challenging the school department's abolishment of seniority in placing teachers in the city's classrooms. (This is the same union that was recently fighting having its members pay anything for their healthcare.)

Getting rid of the union's practice of bumping teachers to make sure that senior teachers stay in the classroom, regardless of their suitability to the subject or teaching performance, is an important clawback of managerial rights that school committees around the state relinquished to the unions decades ago. Now it's high time for seniority to go, replaced by professional decision-making centering on placing the best teachers in the classrooms for the benefits of....yes, students.

We've certainly seen what happens when you give teacher unions too much power: student performance declines and graduation rates go down. That's because the unions' emphasis is on coddling, protecting and feathering teachers' nests, not on instructing young minds.

Teacher unions will fight back on any challenge to their power. Issues like seniority and performance measurement are anathema to them. So they go to court filing grievance after grievance, which costs cities and towns dearly in legal costs and lost time.

Virtually every RI city and town needs to go on the offensive against the teacher unions. The municipalities have the support of not only the new RI Education Commissioner, Deborah Gist, but also the U.S. Department of Education in Washington.

It's time to clawback the managerial rights that never should have been conceded to the unions in the first place. This is a battle that needs to be won for the sake of our kids.