Facing a $40 million deficit in the heart of Wingnutia, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras fired all the city’s teachers last night:
After two hours of contentious discussion, the School Board voted 4 to 3 Thursday night to send out termination notices to each of the city’s 1,926 public school teachers.
Every teacher received a certified letter from the School Department on Thursday informing them that they might be terminated at the end of the school year. It also said the School Board would vote on the proposed dismissals at Thursday night’s meeting, which was moved to the Providence Career and Technical Academy to accommodate the huge turnout.
Many of the teachers were caught off guard by Mayor Angel Taveras’ decision to terminate teachers instead of laying them off. Last night, speakers questioned the mayor’s rationale: a $40-million school budget deficit and a March 1 deadline by which the School Department must notify teachers if their jobs are in jeopardy.
Nina Pande said the board is faced with an extremely difficult decision and that the board was given only three days to close a $40-million deficit.
And you better believe the union is upset:
“This is a back-door Wisconsin,” [Providence Teachers Union President Steve] Smith said, referring to the weeklong protests in Madison by labor unions. “We don’t know why we’re being fired. The mayor says he needs flexibility. Can you buy that? I don’t know of any other district that has done this.”
Yes, actually. I can buy that the Mayor needs flexibility:
Teachers begged the School Board to issue layoffs rather than fire them outright because, under the layoff provisions, teachers are recalled based on seniority. There is no guarantee that seniority would be used to bring back any of the fired teachers. School leaders have been vague about exactly how seniority will play out in the case of terminations.
Perhaps the Mayor would rather recall only competent teachers, who may or may not have seniority:
“This is a quasi-legal power grab,” said Richard Larkin, a teacher at Classical High School. “You want to pick and choose teachers. Well, we will not be bullied.”
School districts picking and choosing teachers! Will the horrors never cease? Perhaps the teacher’s union thinks they should have the right to bully the school district? Or perhaps Mayor Taveras has come to recognize the Public Unions’ Attack on Education for what it is. Having terminated all the employment contracts allows the district the flexibility they need to rehire competent teachers while kicking the bad ones to the curb. More school districts might be forced to take the same approach in order to liberate themselves from the costly grips of the public unions.