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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Providence Teachers Union Head Compares Layoff Notices To Pearl Harbor Attack

The City of Providence is a fiscal mess.  The former Mayor, David Cicilline, is now a Congressman, but he left behind a huge budget gap which the new Mayor, Angel Taveras, and the Providence school district are struggling to cope with.

The Providence School Board has a vote set for tomorrow to send out dismissal notices to every teacher in the system.  This does not mean that all the teachers will be laid off.  Because state law requires notice by March 1 to teachers who face layoffs for the following school year, if the school district misses the deadline, it will lose the ability to reduce staff.

As reported by The Providence Journal:
The school district plans to send out dismissal notices to every one of its 1,926 teachers, an unprecedented move that has union leaders up in arms.

In a letter sent to all teachers Tuesday, Supt. Tom Brady wrote that the Providence School Board on Thursday will vote on a resolution to dismiss every teacher, effective the last day of school.

In an e-mail sent to all teachers and School Department staff, Brady said, “We are forced to take this precautionary action by the March 1 deadline given the dire budget outline for the 2011-2012 school year in which we are projecting a near $40 million deficit for the district,” Brady wrote. “Since the full extent of the potential cuts to the school budget have yet to be determined, issuing a dismissal letter to all teachers was necessary to give the mayor, the School Board and the district maximum flexibility to consider every cost savings option, including reductions in staff.” State law requires that teachers be notified about potential changes to their employment status by March 1.
This is similar to a move by the City of Central Falls last year.  Central Falls now is under state control because it was bankrupt due, in large part, to public sector union contracts.

Needless to say, the unions are not happy at this precautionary move, even though the move is dictated by a deadline the pro-union legislature imposed on school districts to protect teachers.  The head of the Providence teachers union has compared the announcement to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

From the ProJo link above (emphasis mine):
“This is beyond insane,” Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith said Tuesday night. “Let’s create the most chaos and the highest level of anxiety in a district where teachers are already under unbelievable stress. Now I know how the United States State Department felt on Dec. 7 , 1941.” That was the day the Japanese government bombed Pearl Harbor.

Smith, who has forged a groundbreaking collaboration with Brady that has received national recognition, said he believes this move comes directly from Mayor Angel Taveras, not the School Department. In a conversation with Taveras earlier Tuesday, Smith said the mayor also hinted at school closings but didn’t elaborate.
Rhode Island is one of the most heavily union states in the country.  As I have written before, almost half of the state legislators either belong to unions or are public sector employees who participate in the state pension system.  The City of Providence has lived off the largess of the state for years, and now that the state is cutting back aid to school districts, Providence must adjust.

This may not be as dramatic as what Gov. Scott Walker is doing in Wisconsin, but it is a sign that even pro-union states and cities simply do not have the money anymore to continue with the current public sector employment situation.  Something has to give, and it is.

Related Posts:
High Taxes And Union Pensions Are Killing Rhode Island. Duh!
In RI, Public Sector Unions Are The State
In Rhode Island, Nothing Succeeds Like Failure

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  1. I hate to take sides, but I must say,

    Tora! Tora! Tora!

  2. So I've experienced five Pearl Harbors (so far).

  3. You'd never guess the left is anti-war given their constant blitzkrieg of war analogies to describe everyday disagreements and adversities.

  4. I wonder how many other citizens of Rhode Island, who are not teachers, would like to know on March 1st if they will still have a job to return to next September that will give them another year's worth of employment.

    Americans who have lost their jobs, or are facing losing their jobs, are rapidly losing sympathy for teachers who have managed to write union contracts where it is almost impossible for them to be fired for failing to do their jobs adequately. And the national student test scores don't lie. Kids are not being educated and you can lay the blame for that on the parents just so long.

    Until there is honest competition in education, where parents have a choice of what school to send their kids to, teacher's, and their union paid goons, will continue to negotiate for their own interests, not the interests of those they are charged with teaching.

    In my own school district, it is estimated that it costs $8,700/yr per student. The district was failing so badly a few years ago the state threatened to take it over (but we do have a nice new football stadium). So a number of parents pulled their kids out and sent them to a parachial school in a neighboring town, some started a Christian school and a number started home schooling using material from Texas Tech. The school district lost tons of money (funds are determined by the number of students warming desk chairs) and cleaned up its act.

  5. "December 7, 1941"

    Steve Smith sounds like a history teacher, given his ability to recall a specific date, unlike the vast majority of our fine public school graduates, but don't they, these days, teach the US had it coming, caused it, had advanced warning and did nothing?

    Am confused over whether to be sympathetic.

  6. This send-out-the-mass-layoff-notices process is de rigeur in California, pretty much everyone does it.

    And, of course, you get the hand-wringing editorials in the local papers when it happens, but as you've noted it's just part of normal bureaucracy.

  7. sort of runic rhyme said...

    don't forget about the apologies for dropping the "Bomb"

  8. "Now I know how the United States State Department felt on Dec. 7 , 1941."

    State Department? The STATE DEPARTMENT? The US STATE DEPARTMENT? And "Steve Smith is president of a teacher's union? What a misguided fool he has shown himself to be.

    The whole nation mourned and reacted very, very strongly that particular Sunday. But what possible mindset would think the State Department would have any greater import on defending our nation at that time?

    Smith's statement is more than passing weird. It completely misses it's rhetorical mark. Receiving pink slips by teachers might seem personally akin to being notified of "the great depression", but Smith's hyperbolic overreach demonstrates exactly what's lacking in far too many educators today. Perspective and common sense.

  9. That was the day the Japanese government bombed Pearl Harbor.
    Actually, as fans of Animal House and victims of public (union) education are aware, it was the Germans who bombed Pearl Harbor.