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Archive for September, 2011

Without rehashing all of the painful details of the PPSD/PTU collective bargaining agreement approved this past week by the City Council, let us summarize:

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The collective bargaining agreement:

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Eliminates site-based management
Effectively makes a sham of criterion-based hiring
Inserted a clause which prevents firing of teachers for cases of financial exigency

This essentially has the effect of making it nearly impossible to fire teachers

We are facing the identification of up to 14 Persistently Low Achieving Schools, which may, through various turn-around models, lead to the need to release teachers (who can’t be released).

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Ultimately, the City may be facing new lawsuits to deal with a pool of teachers who can’t teach, but also can’t be fired.

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Parents are already grumbling about sub-par teachers… some of these are individuals who slipped in through a variety of cracks, including a match system that makes you rank even the teachers you don’t want, and the forced placement of displaced teachers. We’d be very interested to get feedback from parents throughout the city.

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Our School Board was recently stripped of its ability to participate in or vote on collective bargaining agreements by Senator Jabbour and the General Assembly. We are pleased to see then that they stood up to the Superintendent, the Mayor, and the City Council, and passed a resolution stating that the contract is in no way binding upon the School Board.

http://www.projo.com/education/content/school_board_resolution_09-28-11_9OQKHFD_v11.78bc1.html

http://newsblog.projo.com/2011/09/school-board-doesnt-recognize.html

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This is ultimately important, because as we all know, the School Board WILL be left holding the bag when things start to go south.

And just so everyone is clear, this is an appointed school board that is standing up to the Mayor’s office, and voting its conscience.

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Kathy Crain was nice enough to attend the City Council Finance Committee meeting tonight at City Hall.

She reports the following:

Matt Clarkin (the Internal Auditor) did an analysis of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and puts the projected savings at $21,686,274 over the next three years. He did not include the retirements of 55 teachers because he does not believe those to be part of the CBA negotiations. He adds that the savings resulting from increasing the school day 5 minutes/year for three years with no increase in pay is $14,727,272 over the course off the next three years. Perhaps the most interesting point, however, is the one that was brushed aside. Matt Clarkin writes this of the No Layoff Provision:

‎”A new layoff provision has been included in this Agreement. Specifically, this new provision prohibits the School Board from laying off or terminating PTU members for financial reasons. This new provision removes an option the School Board had available to balance future budgets and could result in the establishment of a new pool of displaced teachers. The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) is expected to identify more Providence schools as “Persistently Lowest-Achieving” (PLA). Additional funds are available to a PLA-designated school. THe designated school must undergo an improvement or corrective plan, and there are four School Reform Models (Turnaround Model, Restart Model, Transformation Model and School Closure) for each PLA school to choose. Dependent upon the Reform Model chosen, there could be teachers displaced from the PLA school. For example, the Turnaround Model requires that no more than 50% of the teachers currently at a PLA-designated (sic) be rehired. The Turnaround Model would likely result in new teachers being hired and a number of the teachers who worked at that PLA school being displaced at the beginning of the new school year. It is unclear as to whether this layoff provision will prohibit the School Department form laying off teachers who were displaced from a PLA school. If layoffs in such instances are prohibited, THE END RESULT WILL LIKELY BE A NEW POOL OF DISPLACED TEACHERS BEING MAINTAINED WITHIN THE SCHOOL DEPARTMENT. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE AT THIS TIME TO QUANTIFY THE FUTURE PROJECTED COSTS TO THE SCHOOL DEPARTMENT, BUT DEPENDENT UPON RIDE’S DESIGNATION OF ADDITIONAL PLA SCHOOLS, THE REFORM MODEL CHOSEN, AND THE MOVEMENT OF CURRENTLY EMPLOYED TEACHERS FROM AND TO THESE SCHOOLS, THE TOTAL COST OF A NEW POOL OF TEACHERS COULD BE SIGNIFICANT. (emphasis added).”
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Kathy goes on to state:
“If the City Council approves this, then our elected officials – the Mayor and the City Council – are willfully and knowingly approving a very short term fix that (a) will cost the School Department significantly in the long run, and (b) does very little in terms of educational reform. The Mayor has cut a deal that doesn’t even save money in the long run. How incredibly short-sighted.”
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Anyone remember the GM “Rubber Room”?
http://wsjclassroom.com/archive/06may/auto2_jobsbank.htm
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The final meeting is:
WEDNESDAY, 5:30pm:
PUBLIC HEARING ON THE TEACHERS CONTRACT, City Council Chambers, 3rd Floor, City Hall. Parents and all PVD residents encouraged to give public comment.
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Parents from all parts of Providence should come to this Council hearing and  speak out on the teachers contract.

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Kathy Crain was kind enough to provide us with the following synopsis of tonight’s meeting. We have heard similar concerns (really shock and dismay) from other parents who attended the meeting:

“The Committee discussed the ramifications of the mediated version of Criterion Based Hiring and its implications for the next three years.  The SB Attorney was there to answer questions on behalf of the District.

Here are the main points:

– The District expects that we will have many schools identified by RIDE as “Persistently Low Achieving” (“PLA Schools”) within the next three years.  At an earlier meeting, Dr. Lusi speculated that up to half of our schools will receive that designation by 2013.  Pursuant to the Federally mandated alternatives for PLA Schools, the District expects that up to half of the staff at each of those schools will be removed from the school, thereby becoming “Displaced Teachers”.   According to the agreement entered into by the Mayor and the PTU, the District will still be obligated to provide those Displaced Teachers with employment.  Therefore, in accordance with the mediated version of CBH, every year (beginning in Jan/Feb and continuing until there are no longer any Displaced Teachers),  the District will begin identifying  displaced teachers and vacancies around the District.  Displaced teachers will be placed into existing vacancies through a match process.  The assignment will be permanent.  There will be no criterion based hiring processes implemented in the District until ALL displaced teachers have been matched with positions, effectively ending Criterion Based Hiring.

– The Union is arguing that if there are too many displaced teachers and not enough vacancies, the mediated version of CBH gives a Displaced Teacher the right to “bump” the most junior teacher with the same certification if the Displaced Teacher has seniority over that teacher.  It is unclear whether or not that means the Displaced Teacher is then “matched” into that position.  The School Board Counsel noted that it is unclear what the Mayor’s position is on this.

– The SB Attorney also noted that the School Board was opposed to the Mediated Version of CBH and passed a new Criterion Based Hiring Policy in  late May that removed seniority as a factor in hiring.  It was passed in Executive Session and the minutes were sealed.  They were unsealed about a month ago.  When asked why the minutes were sealed, the SB President stated that it was because the Board had been asked not to vote on the policy until the Mayor had finished negotiations with the Union.  I then added that the Mayor had specifically asked the Board not to vote on it, but we did so in Executive Session anyway.  Despite the sealed minutes, the School Department had been made aware of the new policy, but failed to enforce the policy because the Mayor issued an “Executive Order” to the School Department to stop all CBH processes until he was done with negotiations.  Despite the protests of the School Board, the School Department complied with the request of the Mayor.

-My additional comment on this is that this is exactly why the Mayor came up with the Jabbour Bill that stripped the Board of its powers.  He knew we were going to reject the CBA and had to figure out a way to get around it.   It’s a sad day for education in Providence.”

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The following meetings are scheduled for the next 2 days:

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TUESDAY, 5:00pm:
Council Finance Committee meets, 3rd floor conference room, City Hall — Council’s Internal Auditor will present FISCAL AUDIT OF THE NEW TEACHERS CONTRACT.
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WEDNESDAY, 5:30pm:
PUBLIC HEARING ON THE TEACHERS CONTRACT, City Council Chambers, 3rd Floor, City Hall. Parents and all PVD residents encouraged to give public comment.
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Again, it is super-important that parents from all parts of Providence come to these Council hearings and meetings this week at City Hall and speak out on the teachers contract.
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If you can only come on one night, the most important one is the PUBLIC HEARING on the Teachers Contract on WEDNESDAY, 5:30pm.

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MONDAY, 5:30pm:
The Education Subcommittee Hearing is at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, City Hall, 3rd floor, on TEACHER HIRING PRACTICES as codified in the new teachers contract. Public comment will be taken. Parents and all PVD residents are encouraged to attend, express your views and ask questions.
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TUESDAY, 5:00pm:
Council Finance Committee meets, 3rd floor conference room, City Hall — Council’s Internal Auditor will present FISCAL AUDIT OF THE NEW TEACHERS CONTRACT.
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WEDNESDAY, 5:30pm:
PUBLIC HEARING ON THE TEACHERS CONTRACT, City Council Chambers, 3rd Floor, City Hall. Parents and all PVD residents encouraged to give public comment.
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It is super-important that lots of parents from all parts of Providence come to these Council hearings and meetings this week at City Hall and speak out on the teachers contract.
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If you can only come on one night, the most important one is the PUBLIC HEARING on the Teachers Contract on WEDNESDAY, 5:30pm.

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Here we go again.

Parents throughout the city were impressed with efforts to make sure that teachers were the right “fit” for their school and for the job they were hired to do. Criterion Based Hiring, though imperfect, held the promise of a collegial, cohesive, and effective teaching team in a Providence Public School building.

And it seemed to be working. Though there have been some glitches and complaints about the implementation and practice, Principals were able to assemble a great team of teachers to work on behalf of our students.

CBH was also the product of an order from RIDE to remove seniority as the sole determinant of teacher placements (when certifications were in place, etc.).

Now we learn that this year, CBH has become a casualty of:

1) A collective bargaining agreement agreed to by the Mayor (which the Providence School Board was effectively excluded from participating in the negotiation or ratification of) which provided for no teacher layoffs or dismissals for three years (except for just and good cause, which as we know currently does not include ineffective teaching).

2) An external hiring freeze imposed because suddenly there were teachers in the system with nowhere to go.

3) The school department had “neither the time nor the money” to fill existing vacancies pursuant to the existing CBH policy.

The school board has now publicly washed their hands of this, ratifying the placement of teachers outside the CBH protocol. At least they had the wherewithal to make the placements for 1 year (as opposed to the positions being awarded as permanent placements). This did also state that the Superintendent had to comply with CBH after the 2011-2012 academic year (unless the Superintendent decides to change the procedure again, which is allowed under Section 2 of the CBH policy).

And what about this new contract?

Site-based management is gone.

In the event of a decrease in the number of teachers in an area of certification, teachers will no longer be transferred according to their “system wide area of certification seniority” but according to their “date of hire”! How is that different than seniority??

The school day is 5 minutes longer this year, and in 3 years’ time it will be 15 minutes longer, and this is touted as a significant improvement in instructional time. Really??

We have also heard that some schools on the West Side have more than 26 kids in a classroom, something the school department promised would not happen as a result of school closings.

So…

We will be working with other parents and parent groups throughout the city to bring a message back to the School Department and Mayor’s office:

We are tired of back room dealing.

We are tired of promises made but not kept.

We are tired of systems and contracts that put the needs of everyone else before those of our students.

We won’t stand for it.

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The text of the Providence School Board’s resolution follows:

RESOLUTION RATIFYING AND APPROVING CERTAIN NON-CBH TEACHER ASSIGNMENTS BY THE SUPERINTENDENT

WHEREAS, the City of Providence and the Providence Public School Department (the “PPSD”) are in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis; and

WHEREAS, as a result of this crisis, the Providence School Board (the “PSB”) voted to close several schools and authorized the PPSD to send preliminary dismissal notices to all 1,934 of the teachers employed by the PPSD (the “Dismissal Notices”); and

WHEREAS, on May 2, 2011, the PSB authorized the rescission of the great bulk of the Dismissal Notices and further, approved a plan to recall most of the teachers (the “PSB Recall Plan”), which involved the scheduling of due process hearings to consider the appeals of those teachers whose dismissals were not to be rescinded; and

WHEREAS, in July of 2011, a measure was signed into law by the Governor which purported to transfer the “power and duty to enter into” a CBA with the PTU from the PSB to the Mayor; and

WHEREAS, on or about August 2, 2011, the Mayor and the PTU, without the involvement or agreement of the PSB, tentatively agreed to a successor CBA which provided that there would be no teacher dismissals or layoffs due to economic exigency for the three-year term of the CBA; and

WHEREAS, on or about August 9, 2011, the PSB authorized the rescission of the great bulk of the teacher dismissal notices that had not been rescinded pursuant to its May 2, 2011 resolution; and

WHEREAS, Section 2 of the PPSD CBH Procedure expressly provides that “[t]he Superintendent or his designee has the authority to make changes to this Procedure at any time; material changes will be made in consultation with the PTU and brought to the attention of the PSB;” and

WHEREAS, on or about August 13, 2011, the newly-hired Superintendent informed the PSB that under the changed circumstances, she was assigning some of the teachers who recently had been displaced as a result of, among other things, school closings, into existing vacant teacher positions based upon certification eligibility, seniority and the PPSD’s professional judgment as to student need, so that the schools would be appropriately staffed at the opening of school; and

WHEREAS, as of August 31, 2011, the PPSD, which had been operating under an external hiring freeze, had neither the time nor the money to fill the existing vacancies pursuant to the PPSD’s existing CBH Procedures; and

NOW, THEREFORE, it is hereby

RESOLVED that:

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The Superintendent’s decision on or about August 13, 2011 to place some fifty- eight (58) teachers into regular teaching assignments outside of the PPSD CBH Procedures, as reflected in the attached Exhibit A, is hereby in all respects ratified and approved; and

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The Superintendent is hereby authorized to fill teacher position vacancies and assign teachers during the 2011-12 academic year as necessary; provided, however, that

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The assignments reflected on the attached Exhibit A and those made pursuant to the authorization provided in 2, above, are or will be only for the 2011-12 academic year, unless the involved principal, teacher and the Superintendent all agree at the end of the 2011-12 academic year to make the assignment more permanent; and provided further, that

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The Superintendent shall thereafter comply in all respects with applicable PPSD CBH Procedures.

Passed on September 1, 2011

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See also the recent Projo article on this subject:

http://www.projo.com/ri/providence/content/providence_school_hirings_09-06-11_14Q4GA1_v15.5f65d.html

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