A group of 88 unionized public school teachers in Rhode Island is being fired for incompetence.
In the tiny town of Central Falls, which is one square mile in size and one of the state’s poorest communities that ranks in the lowest 5% of Rhode Island schools, the federal government cited the district’s failures and offered superintendent Frances Gallo four choices including shutting the school, having it taken over as a charter school, changing school policies from the ground up, or firing all the teachers.
Gallo chose the last. And it’s about time some drastic action like this was taken. In the same vein, more than two dozen failing schools are being closed in Kansas City.
After decades of teacher union propaganda always blaming failures on other people and particularly on the “lack of funding” – i.e., send more money to the teacher unions – the firing of these 88 teachers is a positive development in the crucial transformation of American public education from an untouchable, bureaucratic kingdom to a representative democracy where teachers are held to account for their performance.
In Central Falls, only 7% of high school kids are proficient in math, while 52% drop out before graduation. Many students are poor immigrants.
Naturally the teachers banded together and offered tearful sob stories about how the decision is going to disrupt their lives, and about how much they give to the kids. “I’m after school every day, I’m always available. I’m heartbroken. I’d do anything for this school system, I’ve done everything I can,” said Frank Delbonis.
Blah, blah, blah…
This kabuki theater needs to end. Public education is a disaster in America, while teachers get more and more money every year, bigger benefit packages and, more and more often, early retirement in their 50s while offering an endless litany of how much more valuable they are to society than anyone else.
Which they are not. Public school teachers are no more valuable than welders or insurance salesmen or waitresses. Except that welders and insurance salesmen and waitresses who fail in their jobs can be fired while teachers virtually cannot be.
Until now. Good for Dr. Gallo. More and more Americans are aware of the union deceptions and support her decision. And don’t believe Obama’s malarkey about how he wants school reform. He does whatever the most radical fringe of the union movement wants, which is to never interfere in union business.
Public school teachers are rarely fired because many are protected by two of the strongest unions in America, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. This is what the New York Times reported recently about efforts to fire incompetent New York City school teachers:
[I]n the two years since the Education Department began an intensive effort to root out such teachers from the more than 55,000 who have tenure, officials have managed to fire only three for incompetence. Ten others whom the department charged with incompetence settled their cases by resigning or retiring…. The city’s effort includes eight full-time lawyers, known as the Teacher Performance Unit, and eight retired principals and administrators who serve as part-time consultants to help principals build cases against teachers. Joel I. Klein, the schools chancellor, said that the team, whose annual budget is $1 million, had been “successful at a far too modest level.” (end of excerpt)
One incompetent teacher, Michael Ebewo, was found to have misspelled words on a chart, to have ignored many of his special-needs students, and to have offered answers to those students who could not respond to questions, confusing the students. But according to the Times, reporting on the proceedings to fire Ebewo:
Mr. Ebewo’s lawyer interrupted with objections more than two dozen times, but the arbitrator overruled him in nearly every instance. The hearing, which covered lessons dating to 2005, lasted four hours… the hearing will probably go on for months, because of a rule the city agreed to four years ago. (end of excerpt)
Teachersunionexposed.com gives some insight into teacher union corruption.
In Los Angeles, eighth-grade teacher Carlos Polanco humiliated a student who had tried to commit suicide saying that “you can’t even kill yourself.”
Is Polanco going to be fired?
No, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times:
The Los Angeles school board, citing Polanco’s poor judgment, voted to fire him.
But Polanco, who contended that he had been misunderstood, kept his job. A little-known review commission overruled the board, saying that although the teacher had made the statements, he had meant no harm.
It’s remarkably difficult to fire a tenured public school teacher in California, a Times investigation has found. The path can be laborious and labyrinthine, in some cases involving years of investigation, union grievances, administrative appeals, court challenges and re-hearings.
…The Times reviewed every case on record in the last 15 years in which a tenured employee was fired by a California school district and formally contested the decision before a review commission: 159 in all (not including about two dozen in which the records were destroyed). The newspaper also examined court and school district records and interviewed scores of people, including principals, teachers, union officials, district administrators, parents and students.
Among the findings:
* Building a case for dismissal is so time-consuming, costly and draining for principals and administrators that many say they don’t make the effort except in the most egregious cases. The vast majority of firings stem from blatant misconduct, including sexual abuse, other immoral or illegal behavior, insubordination or repeated violation of rules such as showing up on time.
* Although districts generally press ahead with only the strongest cases, even these get knocked down more than a third of the time by the specially convened review panels, which have the discretion to restore teachers’ jobs even when grounds for dismissal are proved.
* Jettisoning a teacher solely because he or she can’t teach is rare. In 80% of the dismissals that were upheld, classroom performance was not even a factor. (end of excerpt)
Later the LA Times reported that school district bureaucrats even have purposely sabotaged the dismissal process on behalf of a unionized teacher:
But it is not uncommon for districts to sabotage themselves with technical missteps. In Polanco’s case, for example, L.A. Unified administrators began firing proceedings before giving him the required 45 days’ “notice of unprofessional conduct” — one factor in the commission’s decision to overturn his firing. (end of excerpt)
The LA Times further reported:
…Meanwhile, said Kendra Wallace, principal of Daniel Webster Middle School on Los Angeles’ Westside, an ineffective teacher can instruct 125 to 260 students a year — up to 1,300 in the five years she says it often takes to remove a tenured employee. (end of excerpt)
And not only can bad teachers usually not be fired, but…get this… good teachers who speak out against the unions can be targeted for harassment. Reported the LA Times:
Cynthia Acerno was a last-minute hire at an elementary magnet school in the San Diego Unified School District, according to a summary of her case by a review commission. Though known for being strict, the district veteran had had no previous problems.
But “vocal, politically well-connected” parents accused her of being a “menace,” and started unfounded rumors that she was screaming at children, drinking and using drugs, the panel found. Some pulled their children from her class.
“The case against her was a cocktail of hearsay on hearsay with an ill-will chaser,” the panel commented in its ruling in favor of Acerno, who could not be reached for comment. “. . . Many of these scurrilous and damaging things were said in front of the children of this class by parents. This was shameful.” (end of excerpt)
So just imagine a leftist union structure allied with leftist parents in the community ganging up on a whistleblower teacher. That is how corrupt the system has become. And that is why the Rhode Island decision is the first step in the right direction of undoing decades of union abuses.
But don’t feel sorry for the Rhode Island teachers. Half can re-apply to be rehired.
To read more about how difficult it is to fire public school teachers, type ‘impossible to fire public school teachers’ into your search engine. Or ‘difficult to fire teachers’ or ‘unions protect incompetent teachers’. The stories are endless.
Please visit my website at www.nikitas3.com for more. You can print out for free my book, Right Is Right, which explains why only conservatism can maintain our freedom and prosperity.