Shared from the 3/13/2020 The Providence Journal eEdition


Support good teachers, get rid of deadbeats

It seems as though some of the statements attributed to me in The Providence Journal, (ā€œCommunity teams target under-performing teachers,ā€ News, Feb. 22) have been taken up by United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Randi Weingarten, to demonstrate how tired and overplayed the ideas of the Design Team are at her staged event in Rhode Island on Feb. 29.

I want to clarify what I said and then address some ideas I hope she considers while working with the teachers of Providence.

I did state that we need to fire teachers who have, over time, abused their rights to teach. I have also said much more in our open meetings and at Community Day that did not make it to press. For instance, if the ideas of our team were fully reported on in regard to a flipped Response to Intervention (RTI) process for teacher support, it would sound more like this: Teachers are brutalized in this process. Schools are in disrepair, Providence Public School Department (PPSD) overstaffs its headquarters with nonessential employees and these resources are taking funds away from where they are needed most ā€” for buildings and support systems for our teachers (and why is PPSD spending $180,000 a year on Teach for America?).

The idea is to support 95% of all teachers with real, self-directed professional development, reallocating wasted resources to fund class supplies and new buildings, and improving the climate and culture of the schools. This would include a fair and equitable evaluation system and a streamlined due process system, so every person is heard fairly without overburdening courts with endless appeals.

To do this, the district must clear out the most egregious cases, to remove close to 5% of teachers (no more than one to two per school) who should not be teaching (also to support the 95%). All teachers with more than three years of experience will agree that at most every school, in any state, one teacher is not pulling their weight and making the rest of us pay for it (and the union will then use our dues to defend them in court). Providence can do this work now so that going forward these legal fees on both sides will instead be spent on increased teacher support.

The Providence schools are a systems problem where teachers not only get attacked from the outside but also by the very few who fail to do their job. When a teacher compulsively calls in sick, with no subs to take the class, each class is split, making a class of 30 into a class of 45. This wears down the spirit of any teacher. Following teacher code, we do not report our peers, because if something were reported to the principal, this paper trail would go nowhere. After all, this principal has no authority to hold the teacher accountable in our present system.

If Ms. Weingarten chose to funnel all union dues to those AFT teachers who show up every day instead of on lawyers for deadbeats, donations to incumbent candidates, and publicity trips to Rhode Island, much would change. I spoke to many professionals on Community Day on March 7 who are dedicated to teaching and still have the desire to do this work in spite of it all, but they need your help. Stop making this political and put together a plan that supports your members and the families they serve in Providence.

Students in Providence deserve an excellent teacher; teachers deserve strong peers they can count on every day. We all need to own these truths and act accordingly.

Anthony M. Rodriguez, a 2011 Golden Apple Excellence in Teaching Award winner in New Mexico, is an associate professor at Providence College.

See this article in the e-Edition Here