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Providence: dismissal notices to all teachers

February 23, 2011 am28 11:32 am

h/t Tom Hoffman.

From the Providence Journal:

PROVIDENCE — In an e-mail sent to all teachers and School Department staff, Brady said, “We are forced to take this precautionary action by the March 1 deadline given the dire budget outline for the 2011-2012 school year in which we are projecting a near $40 million deficit for the district,” Brady wrote. “Since the full extent of the potential cuts to the school budget have yet to be determined, issuing a dismissal letter to all teachers was necessary to give the mayor, the School Board and the district maximum flexibility to consider every cost savings option, including reductions in staff.” State law requires that teachers be notified about potential changes to their employment status by March 1.

“To be clear about what this means,” Brady wrote, “this action gives the School Board the right to dismiss teachers as necessary, but not all teachers will actually be dismissed at the end of the school year.”

“This is beyond insane,” Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith said Tuesday night. “Let’s create the most chaos and the highest level of anxiety in a district where teachers are already under unbelievable stress.”

Meanwhile, Smith said he was caught completely off-guard by the planned dismissals…He said it makes no sense to send out dismissal notices to every teacher because the district has a legal obligation to educate all of its students, regardless of budget considerations…

Smith said the dismissals couldn’t come at a worse time. The union is getting close to resolving a lawsuit over seniority-based hiring. The teachers’ contract expires June 30. And both Smith and Brady have staked their careers on a first-ever partnership in which both sides have agreed to make deep reforms in four of the district’s lowest-performing schools.

There are about 2000 teachers in Providence. The Providence Teachers Union (ProTeUn, AFT Local 958) has no information on its website.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2011 am28 11:41 am 11:41 am

    They did send out an email though! It is unclear what direction this is going to go — the new mayor seems to genuinely not know how much money the city has, and I suspect this is, in part, motivated by a desire to get the legislature to change the law which requires layoff notices to go out by March 1.

    Historically, there is a good reason for this law, but it is causing problems in the current environment, including I believe precipitating the hasty firing decision last year at Central Falls (the district saw their deadline as March 1, I don’t think the union was thinking that at all).

  2. February 23, 2011 am28 11:55 am 11:55 am

    The e-mail is a ploy or a power play or a negotiating tactic.

    You don’t have to be from Providence to know that they have no intention of dismissing all 2000, or even 800. Teachers vs the district, only one side has to worry about rent or mortgages. Way to make the other side nervous.

  3. February 23, 2011 pm28 12:08 pm 12:08 pm

    Yes, that too… although it is still weird as a ploy. e.g., threatening to lay off everyone is actually good for solidarity in a way. I’m certainly not trying to defend it — I’m just saying there are a lot of facets in play.

    • February 23, 2011 pm28 12:21 pm 12:21 pm

      There is substantial difference between commenting on layoff notices and commenting on layoff notices when there is one with your name on it in front of you.

      Teachers should stand together. Easy to say. But when the threat is real, there pressure can feel intense. It is a necessary time to build solidarity, but a damned hard time to do it.

      • February 23, 2011 pm28 12:39 pm 12:39 pm

        This isn’t abstract, since what we were discussing across the kitchen table is whether Jennifer would be getting a layoff notice or whether as a displaced teacher slash long-term sub she’s even eligible to be laid off since she doesn’t have a permanent position.

        But also, you can see why I’m a blogger and not a union organizer (not that I didn’t try) — my nature is to turn things around and look at all sides rather than maintain a consistent message.

        • February 23, 2011 pm28 12:44 pm 12:44 pm

          It’s one of the tricky things about organizing. There can be a push back against a threat… but the moment of the threat sucks, esp in the US today, where we think first of ourselves (2000 times in the singular) rather than thinking of ourselves (2000 strong).

          Received wisdom is that repression breeds resistance. But received wisdom often glides over a detail: repression sucks.

          Good luck with Jennifer’s job.

  4. February 23, 2011 pm28 12:10 pm 12:10 pm

    Certainly things could *really* turn bad crazy from here, but it also could be fairly meaningless posturing.

  5. February 23, 2011 pm28 12:59 pm 12:59 pm

    Also, another side point which rises to the standard of evidence for a blog comment but not a post on my blog — signs are pointing to the supe’s contract not being renewed next year, new mayor doesn’t like him, test scores are down (particularly at hs), the mayor has created a position for a new ed advisor who smells like a superintendent in waiting, current supe has kind of tied his reputation here on a late embrace of some pretense of union/managemen collaboration, new city councilor sticking his nose into the bargaining process and attacking the current contract, also nobody would be surprised if all or almost all of the “lowest performing” schools to be announced any moment are in Provi, who knows what RIDE has in mind, but then again, we’ve got a relatively “anti-reform” governor all of a sudden.

    So who knows. Lots of turbulence.

  6. February 23, 2011 pm28 2:23 pm 2:23 pm

    Having said all that, I just read the letter, and essentially everyone in the district was just fired. A post to follow…

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