Everything in this article describes what has happened in Providence, Rhode Island.
There is one difference, though. We, the teachers of Providence, RI, have already *all* been fired. Some where rehired. There were 498 left without positions.
Those that were not called back had to endure a degrading "match up" with the principals to try and secure a job for next year. Problem was, so many jobs were already promised to people on the sly -- in violation, once more, of the agreement made with our union. So, what else is new? And then there are the "Teach for America" scabs in positions, with 30 more promised for next year by the administration. And the fact that these scabs are in positions that are *not* "hard to fill" as they claim. They are in English and history positions, while myself, (a history teacher - displaced for two years), and others are without positions!
The final humiliation came on Thursday last. It was at 5:30 in the morning when I and 124 others received our notification that we had been completely, officially and non-revocably terminated -- just before we had to go to work! http://www.projo.com/news/content/PROVIDENCE_SCHOOL_MEETINGS_02-25-11_MC... It did not matter that we received our first termination notice back in February, and still have not had our "fair hearing" as is our legal right. I personally have asked for it in person and in writing. My union has asked for me also. In total, I have asked for my fair hearing 7 times. Yet, the Providence School Board and the Providence School Department refuses to uphold their legal obligation to me and the other 124 teachers that were illegally fired.
Yes, we were illegally fired. There was no just cause to fire us, as is required in the State of Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations. Their actions have been, and continue to be completely illegal. Our union has a total of 6 lawsuits pending against them. The first started last year when the school department and the school board unilaterally, and with the blessing of the commissioner of education, Deborah Gist, decided to violate our contract and end seniority rights. Although this issue has been in the Federal Court for over a year, no decision has been made yet. And the school continues to act "as if" seniority is indeed over with, despite our contract.
To make matters even worse, the judge in the Federal Court has a daughter who is one of the scabs infecting our schools.... Yes, the judge's daughter is a Teach for America scab. And the other Federal judge in our jurisdiction also has a child who is a TFA'er! Clearly there is no opportunity for a hearing without a conflict of interest with either of the available judges. Yet the only other alternative is to start the entire case over in another state -- in New Hampshire -- our legal representative, Mark Gursky, told us last night at a meeting.
All of this sad reality came about when our union president, Steve Smith, formed a labor-management agreement. http://www.projo.comnews/contentlabor_management_partnership_11-08-10_SA... In it, he pledged our union's support for RttT, Arne Duncan's latest, greatest "deform." We are the Providence Teachers Union, local 958, AFT; AFL-CIO.) In doing so, he signed onto an increase of charter schools, teacher evaluation based on student test scores, and more give -aways of our protections. He believed that in doing this, there would be protection of job security for us, and protection of our contract, unlike what we've seen in other states. He was wrong.
The Providence School Department and the Providence School Board, along with Commissioner Gist pulled the rug right out from under him. In short - they lied. Once they got what they wanted, we got fired. All of the protections Smith believed he won for us were gone in a heartbeat!
I will not make judgements about our union president, Steve Smith. He did what he thought was the right thing to do. He's not a stupid man. He grew up in a tough part of town, and was a state politician for years when he became our president. He knows how to fight, and the gloves are now off.
Frankly, I pity the fools who crossed Steve Smith this way, and destroyed the opportunities he created for our children with a labor-management agreement. Watch the news and see for yourself how this plays out. Better yet, please come and investigate it yourself to see and, more importantly, to report on what has been happening here in RI. There was Central Falls then East Providence now it's Providence. I don't think the suburbs will be hit, though. Because of what they did in Providence!
Steve wanted to prevent what had happened in those other communities from happening to our capital city schools, teachers and children. The disruption and chaos hurts everyone. Deborah Gist will learn, as will those who jumped on her bandwagon. And the sun is quickly setting on her day here in our beautiful state of Rhode Island.
And that is the story of our "partnership" in Providence, RI. I doesn't work. It never will work. We cannot trust those who want nothing but control! And that is what these new administrators want - control. They are all trained by the Broad Foundation, (or those of the same ilk). And they are after our tax dollars via the charter school movement. This can only be done by labeling schools a failure and firing teachers. Beware the wolf in sheep's clothing...
Thanks for the opportunity to share my story. It is the story of loss -- for the children, the parents, the teachers and the community -- in Providence, RI.