In Central Falls, Rhode Island, teachers were all fired this week last year because their school was "failing". These firings were a DIRECT result of the Obama administration's Race to the Top policy which promotes firing teachers at the "worst" schools in America, closing those schools and reopening them as charters.
Eventually those teachers were rehired when they agreed to concessions like a longer work day, a longer work year and extra professional development.
But the point had been made - GIVE the administrations in Washington, the states and the municipalities what they want or you're gone.
In the year since, the teachers union in Rhode Island has gone out of its way to be collaborative with reform - agreeing to a new teacher evaluation process, signing onto Race to the Top without any reservation (and hrlping the city get $75 million in federal funds), agreeing to other concessions in school turnarounds to make the districts and state happy.
And what have the teachers of both Central Falls, Rhode Island and Providence, Rhode Island gotten for all this "collaboration"?
They were fired this week.
ALL of them.
Just like that.
Here was AFT President Randi Weingarten's reaction in the Providence Journal today:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, considers it "shocking" that Providence may send dismissal notices to the city's 2,000 teachers.
"What makes this even more stunning is that the district and the Providence Teachers Union have been working collaboratively on a groundbreaking, nationally recognized school transformation model," Weingarten said in a statement released Wednesday night. "A mass firing, announced in the middle of a school year, does not help solve a budget problem -- the purported reason -- but, rather, disrupts the education of all students and the entire community.
"The mayor claims he needs flexibility," she said. "We looked up "flexibility" in the dictionary, and it does not mean destabilizing education for all students in Providence or taking away workers' voice or rights."
Weingarten said that mass firings are not fiscally or educationally sound. She urged the mayor and the school superintendent to resolve their issues by working in a collaborative way.
"For the past two years,'' she said, "that's what they have been doing when it comes to work on improving low-performing schools, developing an innovative hiring process and revamping the teacher evaluation system."
Yes, for the last two years the teachers have been collaborating with the state and the districts, giving them the "reforms" they wanted, even when those reforms seemed short-sighted, badly designed or just plan wrong, and what have they gotten for all that collaboration?
They ALL got FIRED.
So much for the collaboration on the part of the state and the districts, eh?
Guess the collaboration is only on one side.
Here is how some Providence teachers and the head of the union reacted to the news of the mass firings:
As the fall-out from Obama's Race to the Top continues to spread nationwide, you can be sure that what happened in Central Falls, Rhode Island last year will happen all across the country in the next few years.
And just as the Providence, Rhode Island mayor decided to fire EVERY teacher in the city to plug an alleged hole in the budget, you can be sure that many mayors and governors around the country will do the same if they can get away with it.
This Rhode Island mass firing is in many ways WORSE than Scott Walker's trying to end collective bargaining rights for public employees in Wisconsin.
The mayor of Providence just said "F--- you, I don't care what rights you have or what union you belong to. You're all fired and I'll hire who I want to hire. What are you going to do about it - complain to Obama? Ha!"
Okay, so what have we learned from the last two years of collaborating with Barack Obama and Arne Duncan, with the ed deform movement and with the corporatists who insatiably ask for more, more, more from teachers and teachers unions.
That collaboration gets you fired.
Collaboration gets you screwed.
There is NO amount of collaboration that will save you when they want to fire you.
In fact, if you've collaborated with them in the past, you might be first on the chopping block because they KNOW what a stupid sap you've been, that you've given them EVERYTHING they wanted and gotten NOTHING in return.
I don't want to take this analogy too far, but really, Weingarten and the union leadership act like Neville Chamberlain in these aggressive, anti-teacher and anti-union times.
They declare we need to do more collaboration with the ed deform movement and hail past collaborations even as the end result of that collaboration is that EVERY TEACHER IN PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND HAS BEEN TERMINATED.
The leadership just DOES NOT GET IT.
Seriously, ALL of the teachers in Providence and Central Falls were fired this week and as NYC Educator points out, Weingarten was hailing a new AFT system to fire teachers today.
View the tape of the fired teachers above and then read Randi's words and tell me she doesn't sound like Chamberlain?
We have collaboration in our time.
And a whole swath of fired teachers and a broken teachers union in Rhode Island.
It is time to end COLLABORATION - with Obama, with Duncan, with the mayors and governors, with anybody in the ed deform movement, especially the rich oligarchs like Bill Gates.
They ARE the enemy and until every teachers union local in the country realizes this and bands together to STOP them, they are going to keep squeezing, keep scapegoating, keep firing.
STOP THE COLLABORATION.