Thursday, March 09, 2006

Peggy's Opening Pitch

That information, information, and information bit; it's relevant to more than just the mayor's office or just the city government.

Read this short post by Joe and this even shorter post by Loki. Hell, had I started reading Ashley's blog a week later, I'd have no idea that, post-Katrina, the odds that I'd ever be able to raise a family in New Orleans have become somewhat shorter. Human nature and circumstances being what they are (no conspiracy stuff here), it's all pretty much what you'd expect. Still, Loki got it right: "There's a whole lot around this town that smells real fishy since Katrina."

You might want to think about the above when you read (or reread) the article about teachers' unions in Monday's Picayune. Shorter Scott Cowen (from the article):

We'll put up with unions,as long as they know their place.

Actual quote: "My feeling would be if the unions are flexible enough in what they do and how they do it, then they can conform to the model we're advocating," he said. "Our plan certainly requires flexibility in hiring, firing -- and that flexibility is significantly different than what was available in the pre-Katrina environment.

Also from the article,

Now there's no union contract to get around, Christen said, and she and other charter school principals have the freedom to hire whomever they want without fear of reprisal.

Admittedly, that was taken somewhat out of context, but the flip side of the coin is that charter school principals can fire whomever they want without fear of reprisal. I'm not denying that union and civil service protections create some problems, of course they do. Still, with changes that need to be made, the unscrupulous rushing through the changes that they want, the egotistical pushing through the changes that they think are best, and public employees afraid to speak up, we need more, not less, transparency.

Update: That link to Ashley didn't explain things well enough, I should have linked to his previous post. Thanks Len, for pointing that out. To any out-of-towners reading this, the city's magnet schools are a major factor in the ability of many of the city's families to raise families here. To rush through a change in the admissions policy of one within less than three weeks of Katrina was unconscionable. I know all about magnet schools and elitism, but the change only made it more elitist.

An anecdote to back up what you have argued. Shortly after the creation of his school as a charter school, an old friend of mine was fired, unceremoniously, by email. The thrifty principal fired four other teachers in the same email. This was a teacher with twenty years of experience, and so it was probably just a "cost-cutting measure." And the city lost a very good, caring, and experienced teacher.

But now, the same school is short of faculty, and my old friend is interviewing for the job with a new principal. I hope he gets it, because then he would be getting a salary AND his retirement. Way to cut costs!!!
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