December 21, 2014
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New union president puts education first
Kelcy Dolan
Warwick Beacon photo
#1 SPORTS FAN: George Landrie, the new president of the Warwick Teacher’s Union, is a huge sports fan. He is pictured at his desk that is covered in sports memorabilia from signed baseballs, hockey pucks, posters photographs and more.

In June 1974, George Landrie’s last day of 6th grade at Hoxsie Elementary, he decided to become a teacher. Having a rougher childhood than many, Landrie found sanctuary in school. Teachers had stood by him, becoming role models and mentors for him. He hoped to do the same for later generations.

Now 40 years later, Landrie is the new president of the Warwick Teachers Union. He was uncontested in the race and backed by the nominating committee.

Landrie said, “I have integrity and there is a lot of work that needs to be done. I took no one running against me as a vote of confidence from the entire union.”

“I have been the best union soldier in the past 25 years, becoming president was just the next logical step,” Landrie said in an interview Friday.

Landrie graduated from Rhode Island College and joined the Army for seven years before beginning his teaching career. He started teaching music in North Providence at four different elementary schools. In 1990 he was offered a job to teach music at Gorton Junior High School, and he jumped at the chance to work at the school he had gone to.

“Junior high fits me like a glove. I found my niche early on. I find it to be the most dynamic environment. Everything is always changing,” he said.

Landrie wanted to be a music teacher because music had always been a saving grace for him. In 5th grade Landrie began playing the trumpet and excelled.

“Music was my savior; it became my outlet to get away. I beat a lot of odds and I know that,” Landrie said.

Landrie’s mother left the family when he was five and his father had issues that took him away from home. Landrie turned to his teachers for guidance.

Landrie’s music classes have also done well competitively. The last three years he has been teaching band at Toll Gate High School. This year his jazz band went to the Berklee High School Jazz Festival and won 4th place in the competition.

As union president, Landrie will not be teaching but believes he can best serve the students of Warwick in his new position.

“I will miss the classroom. I have always wanted to help kids. I can have a bigger impact for kids as union president. I am going to be the guardian and defender of quality public education,” Landrie said.

Although Landrie believes he is capable of finding a middle ground and finding compromise, he swore he was not going to give in easily.

“I am not going to sell out my members and I am not going to sell out our kids,” Landrie said.

Landrie was one of the young and new teachers that were sent to jail during the 1992 union strike.

“I am an American, I did nothing wrong. When they ordered me back to work I said no. I went to jail with some of the finest teachers in Warwick. It may be ancient history to most, but not to me. I can still remember that time vividly.”

Landrie has already proven that he is willing to go far lengths to get the contract he thinks the teachers deserve. Now as president, he will work directly with the administration to create a contract for this year.

Landrie compared the school administration offices to the army. He said that the wheels turn slowly. You hurry up just to wait. Landrie, a self-proclaimed fast and diligent worker, said he is unused to having to wait to accomplish things.

“I am hoping to begin a new era based on trust. Let’s get it done. This city doesn’t need anymore labor strife. Under my presidency the union is going to be more proactive rather than reactive as it has been in the past,” Landrie said. “The teachers of this city deserve it. A boost in morale would do this system good.”

As president, Landrie would like to bring back programs that have been cut and to ensure there are no more cuts to programs he finds essential to the school system. His first fight is to keep tier 2 literacy, a program for students who are behind in their reading and writing skills, in the junior high schools that may be cut due to the budget.

Landrie said, “Cutting literacy classes is only going to hurt the kids who are already disadvantaged. They shouldn’t have to miss out on an opportunity to improve and learn.”

Some of the programs Landrie wants to bring back are ALAP, junior high intramural sports, the marine environment courses, two music positions in the district and a librarian for Gorton, “just to name a few.” He would also like to see the “draconian drastic cuts” to physical education remedied.

Landrie would like to see the teachers receive time whether through comprehensive scheduling, a half day or professional development day to do all the extra work that has been sent down by the state. The constant paperwork, testing and evaluations cut into the time teachers have to teach the curriculum and he does not want to see the students’ education suffer because of it.

Since becoming president, Landrie has been meeting with teachers and principals to create relationships throughout the school system and plans to continue to do so for the remainder of the summer.

“I love this city. I know the public schools get a bad rep because they have been level funded by public funds. I could parade my teachers around the city and show off all the amazing work they have done,” Landrie said. “They go above and beyond the call of duty. They are coaches, mentors, role models, tutors, so much more than just teachers. We have gems in this city that just get overlooked. I want to make sure this union does a better job of promoting our teachers.”


Comments
11 comments on this item

Hardly a word about the children. But plenty about being “I have been the best union soldier in the past 25 years" and “I am an American, I did nothing wrong. When they ordered me back to work I said no. I went to jail with some of the finest teachers in Warwick. It may be ancient history to most, but not to me. I can still remember that time vividly.” I hope his political hyperbole is just empty talk and he can put the kids, not the union first.

uggghh. public sector unions are a menace to this country. Practically domestic terrorists.

Another "union soldier". One who is proud to have gone to jail. Awesome. #sarcasm

Oh boy....hold on to your wallets.

"I have integrity " "I am an American." Hang on Warwick, you are in for a rude awaken on just how militant a union leader can be.

I attended Gorton in the early 90's and even attended Mr. Landrie's music class. He was a very good teacher, there are parts of his class that I remember 20 + years later. That having been said, my lasting memory of 7th grade was no dances, no yearbook, no after school activities, no "morning news," no trips etc etc etc. Why? Because the teachers didnt have a contract. Apparently they collectively decided they would take it out on the students, the same ones they are "guardian and defender's" of. Fast forward 1 year, and a signed contract, and 8th grade was completely different. It's really shameful that so many teachers put their contract/union loyalties above the needs of their students. There were 2 teachers that still conducted after school activites - flag football and basketball leagues despite the student services "black out" and they should be recognized. THANK YOU Mr. Croll and Mr. Kamper!!!

We all want the best possible education for our kids, but the solution isn't to continually throw money at the problem. We have a shrinking enrollment and an ever increasing budget. The taxpayers of this city are tired of the unions and want nothing more than to see the City stand up to them. The teachers AND retirees need to pay their share of healthcare costs just like we do in the private sector. Seniority and tenure needs to be done away with, the best person should get the job and those that don't do their jobs should be OUT of a job. We need to find a way to consolidate our buildings and more importantly modernize them. Try visiting a school in Warren/Bristol, they are clean, modern, and beautiful! We need less chiefs and more indians - the number of administrators is ridiculous and wasteful for a City of our size. We can accomplish so many things if we trim the fat and start spending our tax dollars where they will make an actual impact - what we have been doing the last few decades ISNT WORKING!!!

George - I really hope that this time around you decide to put the KIDS first and not the Union.

Good Luck in your new position, George. The comments speak of the students and your responsibility to them and to the teachers. I hope you listen well to these concerns. Remember, you are up against a Superintendent who puts money first and children last.

George, Thank you for bringing up the ALAP Program again. I think it was a great program and I (and many other families) fought to keep it. The decision was made to get rid of it to save money and in favor of more diversified learning in the classroom. Diversified learning hasn't happened and our schools are losing our brightest students to private schools because of the decision to get rid of this program. When they leave, the schools also lose the State funding that came with each student. The schools have gained a net of Zero Dollars by cutting the program and we our losing students at a staggering rate. We do not need increased funding to improve education (although an increase directly into the programs, not salaries, would help). We need improvements to technology, books, and curriculum to gain student enrollment. The city has put more of our tax dollars into sewers than into education. While I like to boast that we have some of the best excrement disposal units in the State, I would like to say we have the best schools in the State instead. We need to stop flushing our tax dollars down the drain and start building the city for our future.

"When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children."[

Al Shanker, President

American Federation of Teachers

1997

Question for Mr. Landrie: Do you support full enforcement of the Beck decision of the US Supreme Court, which outlawed mandatory withholding of union dues for political causes?

Mr Landrie, I remember 1992 very well. I was a Senior and we could not practice on our football field because the teachers were striking or what I think was the third time in the four years I was in High School. That must have been for the kids. Lets be clear the Teachers Union cares about getting the most money, best benefits and pensions for their teachers. Making sure they teach no more hours or have to do as little additional as they have to do. Nothing wrong with that as they are the Union for the teachers. Just don't insult the citizens of Warwick, some of us who have been through the hundred strikes with this BS about doing this for the kids. When you refuse to write college recommendation so the City will give you your raises is that for the kids? Curious how mentioning Warwick being $4k under the highest step is for the kids. the Union does not care about the kids just be up front about it and then you would be using some of that HONESTY you are talking about.

As one of George's former students I can say that this man is more for the kids then anything. His whole purpose as a teacher was to see his students happy and help them achieve all they couldn't. He's a great man and teacher. Congrats George and best of luck!

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