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Ensuring More Such Union Behavior in the Future

Well, according to a Newport Daily News article appearing last week, the Newport school committee caved to the inappropriate behavior of its teachers’ union:

When teachers retire early, they can continue to receive health insurance under the School Department’s plan until they reach the age of 65. Then they go onto Medicare’s Plan 65. That is provided for under the labor contract.

These early retirees had been receiving dental insurance and life insurance until age 65 as well. However, the School Committee determined those benefits were a “past practice” not included in the labor contract, and ended them as of Nov. 16 last year. Now, however, the five teachers who announced their upcoming retirement well before November will receive the dental insurance and life insurance until they reach age 65 as well.

One could argue that the “compromise” was that the school committee is not barred from changing this absurdly generous benefit going forward, but then, the unions aren’t barred from renewing their inappropriate tactics.  They haven’t even been chastised for using them already.
The union has simply said that it won’t do something it never should have threatened to do in the first place.

This episode again emphasizes the imbalance in our government, especially in our schools.  The labor unions are essentially in place for eternity, once certified, so when they aren’t able to win the political contest over the school committee, securing friendly “opposition” in negotiations, they are free to simply make the job difficult until new people are in place.  The incentives are for the union constantly to push the envelope and for the school committee to be maximally accommodating.

So, over time, school committees across the state have allowed a system to develop that fails students and robs taxpayers.


The 1984 Version of #LoveWins

It’s difficult to believe that this isn’t fake, but Rod Dreher tends to be reliable, so there you go:



Yeah, yeah, there are something like 30,000 public high schools in the United States, each open for something like 36 weeks of the year, so a single flier in Atlanta, Georgia, can’t be taken as representative, even if this isn’t a joke or a prank.  But my how this jibes with the sense of progressives’ definition for “tolerance,” reminding me of my parody song, “Shout Down the Hate.”

If it is a joke, by the way, it’s awfully elaborate, involving (apparently) the school’s parent, teacher, and student association, which writes on its Facebook page:

Instead of demonizing and demoralizing students for their desire to protect themselves and bring some sanity to the wild west of America’s gun laws, how about harnessing that incredible energy? Grady High School in Atlanta is doing it.

Yup.  “Harnessing that incredible energy,” because (as the flier says) “individually we are different; together we are Grady!”  (Is that anything like being Negan?)


Newport Sees Latest Teachers Union Outrage

In the Newport Daily News, Sean Flynn highlights another example of the outrageous behavior among teachers union organizers, which ought to embarrass well-intentioned, professional teachers:

Superintendent of Schools Colleen Burns Jermain sent a notification to all parents on March 1 informing them that the conferences would take place between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on three days this week, one day at each school, the same as has been done in past years. …

The conflict reached a new flashpoint over the weekend with an advertisement in this newspaper paid for by attorney Jennifer Azevedo, who is an assistant executive director of the National Education Association RI, on behalf of the Teachers Association of Newport. The ad claimed the parent-teacher conferences would be held during the regular school times at each school on the designated days. Regular school hours are staggered between 7:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. among the three schools.

On first review, this has the feel of parents who are tearing their children apart as they head toward divorce, but that analogy isn’t applicable.  The union advertised publicly in a way that presumed to set school policy.  Here’s the ad; it’s extremely misleading, with no indication that it’s actually part of a disputed policy.  This is the union saying, “Whatever your elected and appointed school administration might think, we run the schools.”

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will give teachers the ability to get out from under this thuggish organization when it decides its Janus case this year.  Be that as it may, parents and voters should respond to this abuse of contracts to figuratively rip the contracts up.

And any legislator who votes for the legislation to make teacher contracts last forever unless renegotiated ought to find him or her self unelectable.


The Thing Over Which I Have Responsibility Is Always OK

Poll results from Ted Nesi on WPRI evince a typical dichotomy when it comes to schools that can feel almost contradictory:

More than half of Rhode Islanders graded the state of K-12 education in Rhode Island as middling or worse, with 35% giving the state’s schools a “C,” 16% giving them a “D” and 4% giving them an “F,” compared with 4% who graded them an “A” and 29% who gave them a “B.”

And while slightly more than half of voters think their community’s schools are preparing students for colleges, only 37% think they’re preparing them for good-paying jobs.

However, among the 122 voters with school-age kids, 48% gave their children’s schools an “A” and 36% gave them a “B,” versus only 10% who gave them a “C,” and 3% each giving them a “D” or an “F.” More than two-thirds of those voters also approved of the job being done by teachers in their local schools.

It may be that people think a “C” is “preparing students for colleges,” but one sees repeatedly in opinion polls that people tend to think more favorably of their own schools and teachers than education generally in the state.  One could argue that such findings mean the schools aren’t as bad as people think, which they find to be true the more experience they have, but objective data supports the negative view.  More likely, people know there is a problem, but if they admit that the problem is with the schools in their communities and, even more, to which they send their own children, then they have responsibility to fix them or move their kids.

This same dynamic may help to explain things like the “my guy is alright” syndrome in the Rhode Island legislature.  We can all discern, objectively, that our state government is a mess, but if you admit that your representative and senator are bad, then you have some responsibility not to be so apathetic — perhaps even to run.


To Progressives, Conservatives Are Like Lepers at Brown

The first thing one might wonder upon reading Rhode Island College professor Alex Nunes’s recent article in the Providence Journal is how many readers are actually interested in this sort of stuff:

In the last decade, the conservative icon and CEO of Koch Industries has poured $3.2 million into Brown University and the Political Theory Project, a think tank on campus. “The Koch network is essentially buying the legitimacy of Brown University for their own private gain and recruiting the next generation of free-market activists,” says Ralph Wilson, co-founder of the advocacy group UnKoch My Campus.

The second thing one might wonder is what lesson those readers will take from it.  Despite a whopping 1,500 words spent on the topic, Nunes provides no evidence that anything untoward has actually happened.  Did Brown pressure professors to change their courses to appease big-money donors?  Not as far as we know.  Did the Koch Brothers buy enhanced access to students in some way?  Not really.

The only complaint of the activists who give Nunes an excuse for his article is that Brown donors whom they don’t like are contributing some small portion of the school’s revenue, and a single professor is presenting material with which they disagree, as a small portion of the information and opinion available at Brown.

As I mentioned in my podcast last week, it is as if these censorious tyrants think any exposure to different viewpoints is like a virus that will infect the university’s dainty little left-wing communities.  So the third thing one might wonder is why progressives fear that their ideas will stand up so poorly against opposing views.

However few people are actually sufficiently interested to read about this (quote/unquote) controversy, we probably can’t afford to ignore it.  After all, environments such as that at Brown will produce the people who go on to work at Google and do things like seek to invade every space that people might create to discuss differing ideas.  In that regard, everybody should read articles like Nunes’s in order to realize just how irrational and totalitarian progressives have become.


Getting the Worst of Both Sides

Looking at the political and economic system of the United States, especially when it’s not doing so well, I wonder whether we don’t end up getting the worse attributes of our two competing political philosophies.  Something similar came to mind while reading a “Weekend Interview” that Tunku Varadarajan conducted with University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer:

Mr. Zimmer attributes this campus intolerance to “the national mood,” as well as a change in “the ambient environment” in which universities exist. He describes a sort of national attention-deficit disorder: “How much is the national environment amenable to long-term thinking and investment, versus just responding to particular issues, particular needs?” The importance of education and research, he says, “has certainly come under question” in recent years, in part because “the entire tone of the country has shifted toward people being more focused on the immediate and the short-term.”

Of course, the importance of education has also come under question because it has become more expensive at the same time that the news is increasingly filled with other worldly stories from America’s campuses and people observe much of the garbage that fills lists of degree offerings and curricula.

But to the point, it occurs to me that short-term thinking and short attention spans might be the combined effect of capitalism in a prosperous society, having become dislodged from a daily struggle to survive and a culture of modesty, and the practical advantages of campus activists.  The first trains us to focus on the now, and the other thrives when people demand change immediately, with limited consideration, and without a long-term perspective on whether a given course of action will produce the desired result.

Zimmer also believes that America is becoming a less attractive place for people to head when they want to thrive, and I tend to agree.