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Archive for October, 2011

Headline in today’s Projo:

“Providence superintendent says new teacher hiring process is intact”

Story is found at this link:

http://www.projo.com/ri/providence/content/lusi_on_contract_10-02-11_9OQL33B_v16.693f1.html

According to today’s Projo, “Supt. Susan Lusi says the new teachers’ contract does not dismantle the district’s new hiring process nor does it allow seniority to once again be the dominant factor in assigning teachers to classrooms.”

The article then goes on to describe all of the ways the system goes around or negates the criterion-based hiring (CBH) process that was introduced three years ago, and allows seniority to be a dominant factor.

The intent of this process was to hire teachers based upon certification, performance and merit. Of course seniority might play a role, but it was not the deciding factor. Principals and a committee of peers would interview candidates, and choose the best candidate for the position. HR was to be sure that candidates were appropriately vetted for the position.

We and others have been very concerned that the new collective bargaining agreement with the PTU undermines this process… and now we hear this from the Superintendent herself.

In the article, Sup’t Lusi describes the matching process which occurs in January or February. This basically shuts down CBH to deal with displaced teachers. After “speed-dating”, Principals and teachers submit their rank order lists to a “match” system. What the article doesn’t mention is that in this system (at least as done this year), you have to rank EVERY teacher who is applying for a job, even the ones you would not want. The article also does not mention that if there are not enough positions available for displaced teachers, they potentially can “bump” junior teachers based on seniority.

“Lusi concedes that the contract does give some priority to seniority…” The interview process not only gives an additional 10 points to senior teachers based on years of teaching, but also states that at least 5 of the interviews must be given to teachers based on seniority, and a minimum of 7 applicants (if they exist) must be invited to apply. Given that this process is time-consuming, how many Principals are going to go out of their way to identify and interview an additional 5 or 10 junior teachers and give them a chance to interview?

Lusi also states “I personally would like to see the criterion-based hiring process last longer but not forever,” Lusi said. “The goal over time is to have more and more teachers placed via this process.” Does this statement make sense? If the goal is to see teachers placed by this process, why not advance the process, streamline the process, support the process, and not it allow to be undercut?

According to the article, she also stated that there was nothing to prohibit external candidates from applying for these jobs. Yet, if there is a pool of displaced individuals, and they are prioritized in several ways based on seniority, AND the contract has a no layoff provision, how would an outside candidate ever get a foot in the door?  Lusi also faults the school department for not doing a better job of evaluating teachers and terminating ineffective staff, or managing people who go out on leave. Yet, there still is no evaluation process in place. The processes that were put forth by RIAFT and RIDE have a several year timeline before a teacher who is identified as ineffective can ultimately be dismissed.  And when the school department was assessed several years ago, Human Resources was identified as a department in need of serious review and repair. Has that happened to date? We have a lot of faith in Spencer Dickinson as an individual, but how much support does he have?

And probably the most important question of all: How far does this contract go in improving the overall educational experience for our kids? We’re not holding our breath…

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