Bob Walsh Responds to Mayor Taveras on Teacher Terminations

Mayor Taveras asked on Facebook for people to respond to his decision to send out the termination notices to Providence teachers, and NEA Executive Director Bob Walsh replied:

Since you asked: I think the terminating rather than laying off teachers is not only a violation of the law, it is a violation of the trust that so many have put into you. Please fix this awful mistake.

One consequence of this misguided action is that every experienced Providence teacher in shortage areas becomes easier for the districts outside of Providence to recruit (see how many left Central Falls High School for other districts after last year.) Another is the chilling effect this will have on efforts for collaborative relationships in the future. A third is the cost of 1926 legal appeals!

I know you well enough to know that you don’t want to be compared to the Governor of Wisconsin. Please respect the contract, respect the law and most importantly, respect the teachers.

While I come down on the side of teachers taking some concessions to help with the budget crisis, I do not agree with the decision to send out termination letters. It really bothers me, and I am not even a teacher.

A Stupid Question

Slow news day for CBS, I guess. They have a flaming headline about the Obama administration’s plan to have Medicare cover the cost of testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

‘U.S. may pay for sex disease tests for elderly: Should taxpayers pony up?’

(CBS) If granny gets gonorrhea or gramps gets sick with syphilis, who should foot the bill to test them?

Taxpayers should pay. At least that’s what federal health authorities seem to think.

Read the rest of the story here.
It’s nearly content-free.

I guess this question needs to be answered, so here’s my expert opinion. Duh.

You want someone who suspects they have an infectuous disease not to get tested? That’s going to save money? Like when they show up in the ER with a raging pelvic inflammation or neurosyphillis? After exposing gods know how many other people?

I’m just surprised that these tests weren’t always covered. Most STD’s are easy to diagnose and treat. Counseling for prevention is part of the standard of care.

Well, I guess it’s a slow day at CBS. Or else they are trolling the news for something scandalous to attach to health care reform. Is Obama leading the nation’s elders into temptation? Will everyone just behave if they fear they’ll go blind and insane before the Alzheimers and macular degeration (covered by Medicare) gets them? Should we stop testing and treating younger people so they will be moral too?

Reuters covers the same story, minus the smirks, here.

Do Providence Teachers Have to Apply to Be Rehired or Not?

It’s understandable that teachers are feeling anxious and afraid in Providence. But let Mayor Taveras reassure you — he is not out to bust the unions, so that solves that question. Whew, glad the Mayor is still the moral, union-supporting person that I thought he was. Still, a lot of other unanswered questions linger about the changes that teachers in Providence face due to the termination notices they received.

The biggest unanswered question in my mind is whether every teacher will need to go through the hiring process in order to have a job. Along with this being a tremendous insult to people who have poured their lives into their jobs, it will also be extremely expensive to carry out all of those interviews. Note to Mayor’s office — Think: interviews = expensive, like money that could be spent to keep teachers. But perhaps we don’t have to worry about that, as according to a Business Week article published today, teachers will not have to reapply and be rehired. From the article:

There are echoes in this week’s move of last year’s decision in nearby Central Falls, where every teacher at the high school was fired. Those firings, however, were the result of the school’s poor performance, not because of money. And unlike Central Falls, where a compromise was struck and all the teachers were rehired, teachers in Providence won’t have to reapply to keep their jobs. [bold mine]

And yet, in today’s Projo,

But David V. Abbott, the state’s deputy education commissioner, said the difference between layoffs and dismissals is this: When a teacher is laid off under state statute, he or she is put on a recall list. Although that teacher is no longer working and no longer paid, that person exists in an employment “limbo.” The teacher hasn’t been actually dismissed.

If a job becomes available for which that teacher is qualified, that person must be rehired based on seniority.

“If you are laid off, you have the right of recall,” Abbott said Friday. “You still have one stick in your bundle. If I’m dismissed, I’m out of work and I need to be rehired.”

In effect, every teacher who is terminated has to re-apply for his or her job as would any new teacher entering the system.

So which is it? You’ll forgive me if I’m still a little confused, and feeling some angst for the teachers in Providence. Yet, perhaps it’s not worth worrying about because it’s just a power play in a political game that is going to take months to play out. As the Business Week article put it, “The decision to send the notices was seen by some as another signal to public sector workers that government officials are ready to play rough to win changes to labor contracts.”

Providence Teacher Termination Letters

This January I froze my feet in Kennedy Plaza as Mayor Taveras was sworn in. Much of his Inaugural speech was devoted to promises to promote public education. From, which published a complete transcript…

Let me be clear: the time for Providence to take control of its
financial future is now.
At the same time, we struggle with the development of our most
precious resource: our children. Many of our public schools are
under-performing. In this era, when even the most basic jobs require
advanced skills, far too many of our children aren’t even graduating
from high school.
More than half of our students are not proficient in reading and more
than three quarters of our students are not proficient in math. It is
unacceptable – and unconscionable – that we provide anything less
than the absolute best: a college ready education for every single child
in this city, regardless of family income, regardless of skin color,
regardless of zip-code.
Let me be clear again: the time for Providence schools to become the
envy of American urban education is now.
In the face of all these challenges, and in the midst of this storm, I
am confident. Confident that together, we will overcome these
challenges, weather this storm and strengthen our city and our state.

Getting through this storm and solving the problems we confront
will not be easy. But have no doubt, this storm shall pass, we will
succeed and we will move our City and our State forward.
To weather this storm we must recognize that our fiscal situation is
unsustainable. We must, once and for all, eliminate the structural
deficit that year after year burdens our budget. Like any family or
business in America, we simply cannot spend what we do not have
and politicians cannot promise what taxpayers cannot afford for us to
We must be forthright and transparent in addressing our city’s
financial condition.
• I will ask all of us for shared sacrifice to solve our
financial problems. And it will start right here, in this building
with the executive branch.
• We have already begun to consolidate departments and
we will seek more opportunities to eliminate redundancies, save
on costs and improve services. Every department will be
charged with finding savings in their budget and making
government leaner, more nimble and more efficient. We will
lead by example.
• We will urge our institutions of higher learning and health
care – who bring a vibrancy to our city that cannot be
overstated – to continue to invest in their own future by
investing in our City and helping us weather this storm.
• We will invite the backbone of our city, our city workers
– who day after day serve this city in ways too numerous to
count – to partner with us in addressing our long term financial
• We will invite our neighboring cities and towns to work
together to jointly lower our costs by regionalizing services
where we can.
• And we will invite all of you to get involved in our City
by volunteering in our schools and community centers, by
supporting our community development corporations, and by
serving on boards and commissions.
If we commit ourselves to this notion of shared sacrifice, we can
weather this storm and put our city on solid financial footing.

Today all of the Providence public school teachers recieved layoff notices. The Taveras administration is claiming this is a legality to allow maximum flexibility in hiring. It’s hard to imagine anything more discouraging to the many good teachers in the system, who find their jobs in question in a mass action.

What will we be looking at in September?

ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Friend Wilma has a link to Meredith who got this on an email– a funny comparison of wages– teachers vs babysitters. If you think teachers are the better deal you guessed right.

Kmareka Predictions 3 for 3

Well, my far more prescient and wise co-blogger Nancy was responsible for the first two correct predictions, and I can make claim to the third — predicting that Central Falls would be laying off some teachers in the New Year. I’m not sure I should be given any fortune-teller points for this, though. Some things are fairly easy to call.

As for Nancy’s prediction that the Dow would surpass 12,000, that one indeed came true, with a near 500 point cherry on top. But now it looks like now we’re seeing a pullback. Note that Nancy didn’t make any calls on whether the Dow would drop back down below 12,000 after hitting this mark. So, buyer beware as to what comes next after the initial Kmareka predictions. Mayor Taveras in Providence is talking about closing some schools. Wonder if Central Falls will also be thinking in that direction, given that their city is in receivership. I hope all these empty school buildings will be put to good public use, though I doubt there will be a quick turnaround. And if they’re building new schools, they better make sure they aren’t building on former superfund waste dumps. I wonder how the Race to the Top money for charter schools will play into this equation.