Providence, RI, School Board Votes to Lay Off All Teachers
Thursday night's meeting was held in a school gymnasium to accommodate the more than 700 teachers who turned out to voice their opposition to the move. The board vote came after two hours of discussion.
"I'm feeling disrespected, devalued and marginalized," teacher Ed Gorden told the panel, according to The Providence Journal. "Termination is a career-ender. You are putting a scarlet letter on every one of us."
Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith said Thursday the dismissals were "an attack on labor and an attack on collective bargaining." He was echoing a familiar sentiment sweeping the nation, as lawmakers attempt to take power from unions in what they say are efforts to balance budgets and what opponents claim are attacks on the middle and working classes.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras said this week that the dismissals were necessary to comply with a law requiring the district to notify teachers of changes to their employment by March 1. Taveras said it is too soon for his office to work out how many employees will need to be laid off. His budget is not due until April 1.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called the move "shocking" in a statement released Thursday.
"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," Weingarten wrote.
Read more at The Providence Journal.