Letter: Writer's union-bashing tactics were tired and stale

Posted 11/18/21

Last week’s Phoenix contained numerous letters to the editor regarding the diversity, equity and racism issues plaguing the Bristol Warren Regional School District, but one letter that at first …

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Letter: Writer's union-bashing tactics were tired and stale

Posted

Last week’s Phoenix contained numerous letters to the editor regarding the diversity, equity and racism issues plaguing the Bristol Warren Regional School District, but one letter that at first blush seemed relatively innocuous, turned out to be the most disturbing (“School district isn’t racist — but it is failing”).

A letter writer suggested the town council appoint a SWAT team to recommend “dramatic changes” to the school system, including the institution of merit pay for selected teachers, firing certain teachers, instituting school vouchers, and other pie in the sky rhetoric. Interestingly, the letter writer makes no mention of the fact that working conditions for teachers in the Bristol Warren school district are set and governed by a union contract, and that any of the “dramatic changes” the letter writer advocates for would be in direct violation of the union contract, and would not be able to be instituted without collective bargaining with the teachers’ union.

And while the vast majority of reasons for low test scores are beyond the control of teachers, such as language barriers, socioeconomic factors, and lack of parental involvement, the letter writer conveniently leaves that information out, and instead chooses to take a backhanded swipe at the teachers and the teachers’ union. It’s a classic move out of the union haters playbook, and a move that has become old, tired and stale.

My suggestion to the letter writer who advocated for these foolish, unfair, and illegal ideas would be to get educated on Rhode Island state law regarding collective bargaining for unionized teachers and perhaps also read the Bristol Warren teachers’ union contract before proposing these “dramatic changes,” which would be in direct violation of the contract.

And finally, I must give the union-bashing letter writer a small amount of credit, as the misguided letter proves why we need unions and union contracts to ensure fair and equitable treatment for our dedicated and hard working Bristol Warren teachers.

Mike Proto
Bristol

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.