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Call to Action for Providence Residents regarding seniority-based hiring in Providence Public Schools

High quality teachers are a critical part of a high quality education. Although a teacher’s length of service is a relevant factor in determining the teacher’s quality and suitability for a position, many other factors besides seniority determine teacher quality. The best teacher is not necessarily the most senior teacher.

nathan bishop junior high by dose.daily.

Providence Public Schools recently gained the authority to hire and place teachers based on the needs of students and schools in refreshing contrast to the strict seniority rules that have previously dictated all placement decisions for Providence Public Schools faculty and staff.

The Providence Teacher’s Union has filed a lawsuit to restore seniority-based hiring and the “bumping” that resulted. Young Voices, the Providence Excellence in Education Coalition (PEEC), and the East Side Public Education Coalition (ESPEC) believe this is not a positive step and are asking for Providence residents (whether you have kids in the public school or not) for support to help convince  The Providence Teacher’s Union to drop the lawsuit and work with parents, students and the Providence School Department to move towards a better future for our schools and our city.

Please take a moment to read the following petition initiated by Young Voices, PEEC, and ESPEC that calls on the Providence Teachers Union to drop their insistence on seniority-based hiring and assigning for teachers in Providence public schools.

If you agree, please sign the petition and pass it on. http://www.petitiononline.com/especyv4/petition.html

More PPSD School News:
Read Mayor Cicilline’s editorial in the ProJo this week on the progress that has been made in Providence Public Schools.

Photo Credit: Nathan Bishop Middle School reborn. Providence Daily Dose

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  • This is a clear case of schools on different sides of town getting treated differently. I assure you that Principal Lazzareschi’s experience was not the experience of other principals. Again, I urge you to examine the whole story as it unfolds across town, not just in your domain.

    The PTU was shut out of the process of creating the new hiring policy, when in fact McWalters’ order required that they be a member of the process.

  • I have read the Providence Teachers Union suit, and I can assure you it is not merely “asking the courts to make sure that criterion based hiring is based on criteria.”

    In the Providence Journal article reporting the filing of the PTU’s lawsuit, it says: “The Providence Teachers Union has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court that seeks to prevent the local school district from abolishing seniority as the primary way in which teacher vacancies are filled.

    The 2,000-member teachers union is challenging the authority of the state education commissioner to impose a new hiring practice in Providence, a move that the union says should be handled within collective bargaining. The union filed its complaint in federal court on Thursday because it claims that the practice violates the federal No Child Left Behind Act and the U.S. Constitution.

    ‘We’re asking for an injunction that prevents the commissioner’s office from interfering in collective bargaining,’ said the union’s lawyer, Marc B. Gursky. ”

    The PTU’s suit challenges the legal right of the Providence school district to impose a new hiring practice without it being negotiated with the union through collective bargaining. The federal No Child Left Behind Law and the state’s “progressive intervention” law
    known as Article 31, both authorize the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) to intervene in school districts that are not demonstrating sufficient academic achievement or progress. This past February, the Commissioner of RIDE used these two bases of authority to issue an Order concerning teacher hiring in Providence. The Order requires
    the School Department to make teacher assignments that are based first on the needs of students, rather than just the preferences of teachers.

    The purpose of the PTU’s lawsuit is to place the teachers contract above all possible school reforms, even for districts (such as Providence) in serious need of reform.

    Principal Lazzareschi at Nathan Bishop Middle School has said he was very happy to have been able to interview and select this summer a faculty that best serve the needs of his students. He had solid criteria for his hiring decisions, he interviewed 125 teachers and selected 17, and he, his staff, his students and families appear to be highly satisfied with the results.

    If there are problems with the process of designing and implementing the new hiring policy, then I urge the PTU to become engaged with the process and work to improve it, not seek to abolish it.

  • As a highly qualified teacher with seniority, I should have no problem with Providence going to a “criterion based” hiring system. In fact, I have decried the seniority system for years, as it prevented us from hiring highly qualified teachers even at our site based school. However, I was turned down not once, but twice, for one of the new teacher leader positions. The criteria in the criterion based system are not evident. Decisions are made capriciously and maliciously, and principals are not allowed to make decisions concerning their own staff. So just make sure you know both sides of the story before you sign the petition. The union’s suit is not insisting on seniority based hiring. The union’s suit is asking the courts to make sure that criterion based hiring is based on criteria.