EDITORIAL

A sickening situation

Posted

We want to make one thing very clear about the ongoing teacher contract impasse, which has now persisted over one month into the third consecutive school year since the last contract expired in August of 2015.

We’re all getting pretty sick of this, and nobody is coming out of this situation labeled as the “winner.”

Unfortunately, as last Friday’s teacher-led “sick out” at Pilgrim High School displayed, students are now beginning to be directly affected by the fallout from this never-ending dispute.

While those sympathizing with the teachers will immediately argue that the students have already been suffering as a result of irresponsibly large class sizes with high percentages of students requiring special educational programs, this course of action still could not have been any less beneficial to your cause – which to this point had been a unified cry of “we only want what is best for our students.”

This is the harsh reality for those who think that every classroom in Warwick Public School buildings contains 30 students, half of which have IEPs. Class sizes in Warwick are right in line with averages across the state.

There are some outliers, of course, which the Teachers’ Union continuously point to as an example of how class sizes are out of control. While it is certainly worth bringing up and addressing those few cases where class sizes are excessive, this is simply not an accurate representation of the entire district. The same goes for IEP percentage. Address the outliers, for sure, but stop exaggerating the situation as a whole when it is verifiably false.

Now on the flip side, for those who saw news of the sick out and immediately went to Facebook to demonize teachers and call them lazy. You sit on the opposite side of the same incorrect extreme. A vast majority of teachers in schools across Warwick showed up to do their jobs on Friday, and none of those teachers have a contract either. Did you give them credit for showing up, as they have for the entire length of this contract dispute?

Friday’s demonstration was not a union-led initiative – the union would have gleefully taken credit if it were – and it was not a widespread event. It was an isolated effort involving fewer than 100 teachers from one school who are understandably frustrated, especially since they work in an establishment that use renovations. Renovations, by the way, that the same demonized school administration is actively trying to address through a bond.

Here’s the major problem with this situation. It has been unresolved and messy for so long now that, at this point, both camps are firmly entrenched in their positions.

You either side with the teachers and hate everything the administration does, or you think the teachers are just whiny and greedy. The reasonable folk sitting in the middle of the issue, who recognize that both sides have legitimate concerns, are shouted down or find it entirely pointless to even speak up.

At this point, there is enough blame for this impasse to go around. The union won’t give an inch when it comes to grievances over violations to a contract that literally no longer exists, and thinks that 90 sick days is a reasonable provision of a contract. The school committee refuses to take responsibility for overspending on administrative positions, legal fees and public relations costs instead of working with their teachers a long time ago in good faith.

The point is this. Teachers have a right to be angry, and they have a right to want a contract. But they don’t have a right to play hookie. That goes counter to everything your coworkers and union reps are trying to accomplish. Get back to the table and finish this, for everybody’s sake.

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Justanidiot

Quoting from above "...students are now beginning to be directly affected by the fallout. . . "

Are now beginning?

C'mon, get real. They have been suffering since the last contract ended. Teachers are working to rule. You want a field trip? You want something that teacher's used to do?

Forget it. They do the bare minimum.

Teacher's whine that they are professionals and should be paid like professionals. I agree. Pay them like doctors and lawyers etc. By the case or by the hour. Teacher's could have unlimited billing hours, provided that they are doing something substantial for the profession and for their students. You say you work summers and nights and weekends. Prove it and get paid.

Don't like that and feel that results are hard to prove? Then punch a time clock. Put your hours in and go home.

blecccchhhhhhh

Tuesday, October 10
CrickeeRaven

This editorial engages in false equivalence when the writer states: "You either side with the teachers and hate everything the administration does, or you think the teachers are just whiny and greedy."

Such a sweeping generalization neglects the many Warwick parents and taxpayers who have watched the WTU conduct summertime pickets of City Hall, reject the mediated contract approved by the school committee with input from Mayor Avedisian, escalate a war of words with Supt. Thornton, and lose appeal after appeal to the courts and the legislature -- and, despite all of these losses, conduct themselves as if they still hold some kind of advantage.

So it's not that the WTU is "whiny and greedy," it's that their leadership is deciding to ignore reality. Today's announcement by union president Netcoh about the no-confidence vote is the latest example -- she criticizes the school department for spending money on legal fees, yet will not agree to drop prior grievances, which are typically the highest legal cost for a school district, as part of a new contract agreement. Link: https://warwickpost.com/wtu-announces-no-confidence-vote-thornton-furtado/

The editorial writer is correct that the WTU has selectively pushed information that would benefit its stance in the ongoing contract situation, but should be careful not to repeat that same mistake.

Tuesday, October 10
davebarry109

For a group of people who are supposed to be smarter than average, they have a 30 year history of animosity and recalcitrance.

Tuesday, October 10
WarwickFreemason

I would love to see "School Choice" and "Student Vouchers" as an option for every student. We should have a say in the way are children are educated; I would love the option to send my child and my tax dollars to a new state of the art charter school, where there are no teacher's unions to deal with. If I feel the school department, the teacher's union and the teachers are being disingenuous to my child and do not have my child's best interest in mind then I should be able to request my tax dollars be reallocated to a charter school along with my child. As tax payers, we pay the school department for a service and that service is to provide the best education possible for our child and if we feel the service is no longer up to our standards, we should have the right to refuse the service and go where we feel we will receive superior service and the best return on our investment.

Here is an example... People have either Verizon or Cox Communications in their home. However, it wasn't that long ago when we had limited options to choose from in RI other than Cox Communications. So, year-after-year, we would pay Cox Communications for their service, they would raise our rates, modify our subscriptions and remove channels pretty much whenever they wanted and we as a consumers; we were limited as to what we could do. We were for the most part at their mercy. Then one day, Verizon moved into the state and all of a sudden we had "options," and almost immediately Cox Communications had to rethink their business plan, they no longer held a monopoly within the state, there was market competition and with that, we the consumer had much more leverage. If we didn't like how we were being treated by Cox Communication, or we felt we were not get our moneys worth from the services they provided, we could simply cancel our subscription and move to another provider.

I think our school department should be treated the same way, you provide a service to the students and parents within our city, we have to pay for that service every year in the form of taxes, every year that same service has cost us more money and we really aren't getting any better service. As a consumer, I shouldn't have to pay for a service from a provided that I am not happy with. I should be able to choose who gets my money and who provides my child the service that I feel they deserve, right? Now, add a couple charter schools in the mix and the option to send your money and your child to that school and all of a sudden, the school department looses a lot of its leverage and clout and with that its monopoly status. All of a sudden they need to rethink their business plan, do they continue with the status quo, and lose their consumers (students) to another service provider or do they get more humble and try compete with this new found, union-less competition?

Happy Waning Gibbous Moon Phase Everyone

Rhode Island Freemason

The Taxpayers' Freemason

Tuesday, October 10
richardcorrente

Dear Justanidiot,

I agree with you again. The students are paying the biggest price and that's heartbreaking. Their quality-of-education has been negatively impacted by all this crap.

The teachers maintain that they are willing to negotiate ANY day, ANY time, ANY where, about ANY topic relative to the teachers contract. The School Committee has a list of topics that they are REFUSING to negotiate, that is almost as long as the list of topics that they WILL talk about. Therein lies the problem, and that is why the 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab are overwhelmingly supporting THE WARWICK TEACHERS UNION!

Happy Autumn Justanidiot.

Happy Autumn Warwick teachers.

Happy Autumn everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Wednesday, October 11
CrickeeRaven

"The School Committee has a list of topics that they are REFUSING to negotiate, that is almost as long as the list of topics that they WILL talk about."

By my count, this is the third comment board where the fake "mayor" has posted this claim without any specifics. Since he is incapable or unwilling to actually provide such specifics, his statements should be disregarded.

Wednesday, October 11
WarwickFreemason

I find it amusing the only fault lies with the School Committee. The city has now had 2-separate closings due to "sick outs," and we are being told it is the fault of the School Committee. It is NEVER the teacher's fault or the WTU's fault, nope it is that good for nothing School Committee's fault, all of this is because of them... Why can't the taxpayers of Warwick conduct a "No Confidence Vote" on the teachers and the WTU, after all they ULTIMATELY work for us, right? Am I correct in saying that? Both work for the taxpayers of Warwick? If that statement is true, then why do we have to put up with that? Isn't the saying "He who holds the gold makes the rules?" Don't the taxpayers have the power of the purse? Why do we need to go through this year after year???? Why???? Why can't we remove all the teachers, eliminate the WTU and start from scratch? We should as taxpayers have the most say in what is going in our city? I am sorry, every sentence seems to be ending in a question; because, I honestly don't know why we was taxpayers, who contribute to a large percentage of the city's overall revenue, why we do not have more of a say in the way the WSD is run.

Mr. Corrente, can you please explain this to me? Why do we have to have a teacher;'s union? Why can't we eliminate the unions, fire the teachers and start from scratch? Why can't we have "School Choice" and "Student Vouchers?" Do you agree the teacher's allegiance should be to the students and the taxpayers first? And if that is true, do you think the taxpayers should have a right and the final say as to who and who does not have a job as a teacher in the city?

You said recently in a couple posts that 80,000 resident's support the teachers, can you site your source? I am only asking because I think that number is fictitious and extremely exaggerated. While I do think there are thousands of people who do in fact support the teachers, there are also thousands of people who do not support the teachers.

I look forward to your response,

Happy Waning Gibbous Moon Richard Corrente,

Happy Waning Gibbous Moon Warwick Taxpayers;

Happy Waning Gibbous Moon Everyone;

So Mote it Be;

Rhode Island Freemason;

The Taxpayer's Freemason

Wednesday, October 11
CrickeeRaven

Hello, WarwickFreemason:

Allow me to introduce a couple of data points. There were 897 teachers reported by the school district last October. The contract as written provides teachers with the option of not joining WTU but paying "agency fees." The most precise count of teachers voting no-confidence was 400 to 500 from WTU president Netcoh.

So, essentially, 400 to 500 union teachers either did not vote or are not in the union. You may have noticed, that's not what "unanimous" means. Unless it means "unanimous among union members," which is still not a very good number. Unions were created to represent their members' interests, secure good wages, and provide workplace protections from management.

This is the "collective" part of "collective bargaining." By the simple math above, this situation seems more one of "selective bargaining."

Wednesday, October 11
Justanidiot

I don't celebrate autumn. I celebrate fall, like it was written in the bible. Stop trying to take our cherished institutions away from us. I will no longer stay silent on the war on fall.

Thursday, October 12