Chariho School Parents’ Forum

March 13, 2008

Follow up on “its nearly impossible to fire an incompetent public employee”

Filed under: contract negotiations,Unions — Editor @ 2:35 pm

From Teacher Union Facts we find these statistics for RI

In Rhode Island, after 3 years, public school teachers receive what’s commonly called “tenure,” a special employment protection that teachers unions defend. As the below federal statistics indicate, tenured teachers (as opposed to less-senior “probationary” teachers) are practically impossible to fire.

teacher firing rate
probationary teacher firing rate
private school teacher firing rate (national)



  1. I had during my time at Chariho, a mixture of both competent and what would be considered either incompetent or just not care teachers. Some who would walk out of class half way through (into the hall) so homework could be started or completed during the second half of class.

    Vocational classes where the instructor would walk out and leave a fellow student/upper classmen in charge.

    It’s been alleged that this person was the Chairman of their department. Is that person going to fire themselves?.

    What a great way to educate me and my class mates.

    Comment by Ex Chariho Student — March 15, 2008 @ 6:52 pm | Reply

  2. Hi!
    Jack Kemp who I have seen and met in person had a line which I think is good and it goes like this “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know that you care”,. That may not be an exact quote but close.Jack Kemp has been successful in two highly competive worlds: professional sports and politics.
    For those that critcize the public for
    complaining about education consider this: a lot of money has been expended on education and the results seem lacking. If we truly care about the students why do we tolerate it? We really need accountability. I know standards have increased but the state of education is lacking and especially in a global world that should be a subject of alarm.In many places including locally,it appears education is WELL FUNDED and salaries of teachers are higher than many if not most median family incomes in our local area. Rhode Island teachers are among the best compensated in America.
    Bill Felkner is not perfect and neither am I, but where is the real reflective debate and discussion on our local school committee?

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — March 17, 2008 @ 10:05 am | Reply

  3. I find that I rarely agree with Scott, but his last sentence says a lot to me.

    If the school committee does not debate its goals and solicit input form the public prior to getting caught in a scrum with the teacher’s union, you know the contract will not change in any meaningful way.

    What are the changes that we really must have in the next contract?

    If we the public want real school savings, I think we need to debate whether there’s something to offer the teachers other than unilateral surrender on hard-won wages and benefits. Who would accept that if they had a choice in the matter?

    Better raises for better teachers? More school-based control of the schools, with teachers working alongside administration exercising genuine power? Shared responsibility and accountability at the school level, and at the district level? A means to reduce the finger pointing that occurs when the teachers, administration and parents all point at the others when bad news shows up (or good news isn’t viewed as good enough)?

    Maybe these are all half-baked ideas. However, if the debate ends up being all about winning concessions back from the teachers, why would you expect it to succeed?

    Comment by david — March 18, 2008 @ 6:08 pm | Reply

  4. The public can be involved but as long as school board members have greater loyalty to school employees than they do to the community then contracts will never change. Chariho school board can find out the cost of contract terms. If the cost exceeds the going rate in private employment then no contract should be approved. Chariho school boards have been overly generous through the years. Maybe contracts need to offer less to bring school employees back in line with those of us in the real world? I like merit pay but the kids are doing so terribly right now can there be very many teachers at Chariho doing even an adequate job? Sure doesn’t seem that way!

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — March 20, 2008 @ 8:27 am | Reply

  5. I sympathize with the teachers’ plight, regarding curriculum. We pay the teachers a lot of money, and like good soldiers, they have to follow the curriculum they are given. Many are trying to compensate for the lackings of the current curricula, but in some cases it is too little too late.

    I do not make it a secret. These are highly paid professionals that deserve to have a better say as to what they teach in their classrooms without the worry of retaliation. Teacher empowerment will make merit pay a possible choice. This puts the teacher’s in charge of their own destiny’s.

    This is only one aspect of the many changes I believe would move us forward.

    Comment by Lois Buck — March 20, 2008 @ 11:10 am | Reply

  6. The teachers are obviously doing so well that a new(private) school opened right in Richmond(RT 138), and has a waiting list. If the taxpayers had the option, the NEA would be powerless. Think about it. Tuition vouchers solve many more problems than they create. Let me vote and negotiate with MY money. I vote for vouchers.

    Comment by RS — March 22, 2008 @ 8:48 pm | Reply

  7. The private school on 138 (Meadowbrook Waldorf) is not “new”; it moved from West Greenwich in January 2007.

    There are waiting lists for some classes, none for others.

    Comment by david — March 23, 2008 @ 7:37 am | Reply

  8. Yes, I believe it came from EG. I have heard some good an some not so. A bit too much emphasis on enviromental advocacy and not enough on the basics is the most common complaint. that being said, charters are very heavily regulated in RI compared to many states. Ultimate choice takes care of it all. If it works, it survives, if not, it dies. I don’t need a politician telling me who best educates my child. just like any other business.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — March 23, 2008 @ 7:54 am | Reply

  9. So it sounds as if Meadowbrook Waldorf has the resources to pay it employees, build a new structure, and have a waiting list for ‘some’ of its services.All this at a cheaper rate than Chariho. Hmmm.

    Comment by RS — March 23, 2008 @ 9:28 am | Reply

  10. Hey there RS, if you want to know more about Meadowbrook Waldorf I’d be happy to discuss it (I’ve been a parent there for 13 years and a board member for nine), but I consider it kinda off-subject. I don’t think that small private and public schools are comparable in just about any way.

    Meadowbrook’s cheaper because we have to balance our fees against our population’s willingness to pay. It ain’t cheap for the average family ($11K next year) but to make it work the whole staff is paid around the level (or beneath the level) of inexperienced public school teachers. We also jumped through incredible hoops to bring the building in for as little as possible.

    Comment by david — March 24, 2008 @ 7:39 pm | Reply

  11. We could use some hoop jumping at Chariho. Would be nice to see them actually propose something for as little as possible. The Waldorf school probably isn’t my cup of tea but since parents get to choose it beats the hell out of Chariho. Assuming Waldorf deliver better academic results than public schools it is more evidence that teacher salary isn’t the reason RI public schools do such a piss poor job. Maybe we should compare their pay and bennies to Waldorf teachers when the next contract comes up?

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — March 25, 2008 @ 10:21 pm | Reply

  12. The problem, as Lois has said, is primarily the curriculum. I am an Army brat, and as Bill Felkner knows, I prefer public education. I believe that the public – rich and poor, smart and dumb, advantaged and disadvantaged are better together, working along side each other as we must do in real life. Every child that is removed from a public school removes a more valuable parent from that school. And without engaged, intelligent, disciplined and caring parents there is no school advantage – merit pay for teachers, brilliant curriculum, modern buildings not withstanding. Parents count more than anything.

    My father was drafted in World War II with everyone else. So everyone had no option but to work together – to depend on those you had never met in your community, or worked with in your community or knew how to trust from your community. It worked. Our schools can work this way too.

    But, Bill Felkner and others are right – the schools need a lot more transparency in negotiations and budget, merit pay for meritorius work, better curriculum that can change faster as teachers determine it’s worth with their kids, a longer school year to keep up with Asia and Europe, to find a renewed confidence in our public system and our public employees. We cannot do this if the system refuses to comprehend its failures for our kids and for every parent that trusted them to teach.

    Comment by BarbaraC — March 26, 2008 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

  13. You miss the point BarbaraC. School choice makes EVERY school public school. For a school to qualify it cannot have rules excluding students. Curriculum is never a problem when parents choose which school to use. The best curriculum for each individual child will win out as parent are much better at deciding what is best for their children than school board members. If you think school choice means no public schools you need to educate yourself. School choice means more public schools and less private schools. Best of all it means America can compete with other countries who already allow parents to choose the best school for their children. We need our leaders to get out of the union pockets and start putting families before special interest.

    Comment by Truth or Consequences — March 26, 2008 @ 7:17 pm | Reply

  14. Sorry I don’t have the links, but its late and just getting back from finance hearing.

    Angus McBeath was the Superintendent in Edmonton Alberta. a district with about 80,000 students (close to RI at about 110,000). He made three changes –
    1) complete choice – at the start of each year, kids could apply to any school – all money pooled together.
    2) allowed schools to individualize (much like the Swedish model) when choice is given, schools tend to personalize. you get science schools, arts, etc…
    3) data driven accountability – basically merit pay.

    Google his success – “best district in North America”

    PS. A U.S. Supreme Court case in 2002 ruled that as long as the money goes to a voucher which allows the parent “complete control of the decision” it was ruled that that decision could even be made to a relious school (because the state had no influence in the decision).

    Comment by Bill Felkner — March 26, 2008 @ 11:37 pm | Reply

  15. School choice may be an option, but I believe that it should be debated as well. There is a lot of info as to its benefits. But, let’s consider everything.

    There are many things as a state that the residents, and the board of regents should be considering for change within the state.

    #1 on my list is the curriculum. School districts do not have the resources to examine all of the curricula choices out there.

    Parents are continuing to question the choices made by their local school districts. I, for one, am concerned about the newest choice Chariho is making.

    This curriculum is written by the same people who wrote TERC. I will provide a link for those to see.

    I wonder if the teachers who may be supporting this new curricula choice are fearful of really speaking their opinion about this new math.

    When will all the parents have their many opportunities to view it?

    In many states, those at the state level are reviewing curricula and are giving the districts choices from approved lists. Is that RI’s policy? If not, shouldn’t it be?

    Wouldn’t it be best to have a qualified panel of experts review all the curricula choices within each subject, starting with math, just like TX and CA have done. (And, there are others.)

    There are so many things within the state that need to be addressed. I recommend the state needs to develop a list, by importance, and they should address each one, with scientific research by learned professionals. Perhaps, some of the math college professors that have been speaking out against constructivist math could join the bandwagon.

    I would feel more confident if the post-secondary professionals were involved in the process of curriculum choices within the state of RI, as they see the children at the other end of the process.

    It’s time RI took charge to help direct these schools, before it is too late for those that are in the system and those that are coming into the system.

    Comment by Lois Buck — March 29, 2008 @ 7:50 am | Reply

  16. Here is the author’s page for Investigations currently being considered for Chariho students. Check out the initials following each person’s name.

    Comment by Lois Buck — March 29, 2008 @ 7:57 am | Reply

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