Nearly every one of the 2,000 teachers in Providence, Rhode Island’s city schools got a pink slip this week.
The drastic measure in issuing the layoff notices was a response to the city’s $40 million dollar budget problems and something of a work-around for the city’s schools’ top official.
Superintendent Tom Brady said in an email to the teachers that the notices were necessary in order to give the mayor options when trying to work out money issues for the next fiscal year.
Union contracts require schools to notify teachers of the possibility of a change in next year’s employment by March 1.
With the notices out, the city can take its time deciding how many of the teachers to actually dismiss for next year in order to make up for the money shortfall.
So most of the teachers will not, in the end, be laid off. But the uncertainty is there — right now, before the end of this year.
These kinds of clerical tricks may seem like a good idea, but all they do is keep the heat off of those in power while leaving those who matter most — teachers — totally vulnerable. And even good teachers, when threatened with a layoff, surely have a hard time rallying for the kids, no matter how much their heart is in it. We have to come up with a better way to pay for schools than to allow them to be subject to the ups and downs and waxing and waning of city and state funding.
Photo: PCHS-NJROTC via wikimedia commons