With state budgets collapsing around the nation, an increasingly bright spotlight has been focused on the activities of many public sector unions, perhaps none more so than the teachers unions. Since most of the news is rather alarming to say the least, here at Hot Air we feel obliged to bring you a true feel-good story of union activity to brighten your winter days. With that in mind, I invite you to look over this CNN video journal by reporter Steve Perry. (Video available at the end of this column.)
The story focuses on Central Falls school in Rhode Island, an educational institute in such a sorry state of affairs that their drop-out rates were staggering and many students didn’t even log enough classroom time to receive a grade. Last year, in an apparent sign of throwing up their hands in despair, the school board took the drastic measure of firing all 88 of Central Falls’ teachers.
UPDATE: I’ve been reminded that Ed covered the firing of the teachers last year with full details of just how badly the school was performing.
Now, I already know what you’re thinking here. “But Jazz, what about those poor, unemployed teachers? Couldn’t anyone do anything to help them?”
Fear not! In charged the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, who not only got all of their jobs back… they landed them a raise. And all of this is taking place in a community which wouldn’t even qualify as “working class” by most standards. The average wages in the Central Falls region are very low. Steve Perry sat down with Supervisor of Schools Frances Gallo to ask her about it.
CNN: So did you wind up paying them more?
CNN: Central Falls is a poor community. Where did you get the money?
Gallo: Through the School Improvement Grant dollars. We had promised that if we secured those dollars, there would be a $3,000 stipend per teacher.
He then questions union representative James Parisi, who also seems to be put off by the pay situation.
CNN: So in this town where the average income is $22,000 the average teacher is now making $76,000. What are the community members paying for?
James Parisi: The highest paid teachers are making about $76,000, which frankly I don’t think is enough for the committed professionals that are in that school district.
CNN: You had a 93% fail rate. That’s undeniable.
JP: And you think that’s caused by teacher’s actions?
JP: I don’t think the teachers are responsible.
We should note that the teachers didn’t just walk away with more cash without making some concessions. They had to agree to a number changes including making each class a few minutes longer and being forced to eat lunch with the students.
And how did that work out? Not so well, apparently, as 93% of the students are still failing to meet minimum standards in math and reading, with large numbers once again not even receiving a grade of any sort.
The teacher’s aren’t taking all of this unwanted attention lying down, though. This fall they staged a “sick out” in protest of the increasing demands for improved performance. Also, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten visited the area to demand that everyone “stop playing the blame game,” and focus on the real needs of the students. (These needs apparently don’t include new, better teachers in the opinion of Ms. Weingarten.)
So there you have it. The feel good story of the week. See? And you thought the unions weren’t out there doing anything productive. The video of CNN’s report follows. Enjoy.
Now you can yell at Jazz for being a stupid, wrong-headed RINO even faster than by leaving a comment. Follow him on Twitter! @JazzShaw