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Obama right, Mathews wrong

Please wipe my recent post, "Obama wrong, Weingarten right," from your memory. I messed up.

I indicated that the plan to fire all the staff at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island barred teachers from reapplying for their jobs. If I had shown the slightest bit of energy in checking this out, I would have discovered that teachers at the school will have that option. So the president is right to support it, and Randi Weingarten is right to criticize it, if she wants to go that way, but I wouldn't if I were her. All I did was confuse the issue. I will try to be more careful next time. Sorry.

By Jay Mathews  | March 3, 2010; 4:49 PM ET
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  Central Falls High School, Mathews messed up, teachers can reapply for their jobs  
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Don't worry Jay. There has been a lot of misinformation or disinformation whizzing through cyberspace over the RI firings. Yes, all of the teachers can reapply, but only half of the staff can be rehired under this "improvement" plan. One assumes that only the "good" teachers will be rehired.

Much has been made about the teachers' salaries. Some say they "average" $72,00 or more. Many of the Central Fall High School teachers are veterans, so they are at the upper end of the salary scale. But starting pay is somewhere around $40,000, so I don't see how that can be the "average" for the staff.

It's kind of like your paper's recent anti-MCEA editorial claiming that the "typical" MCPS teacher got a 23% boost in earnings over a three-year period. The Post defined the "typical" teacher as one who had 10 years experience when the last contract was signed. But that just begs the question: Why is that 10-year veteran a "typical" teacher. Are we talking mean, median, or mode? The editorial left that hanging--all the better to gin up animosity toward those overpaid teachers. You know, the ones the very same editorial praised as dedicated and hard-working.

Posted by: daveairozo | March 3, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse
10 years and a doctorate would get you $75,783
Just out of college with a bachelor’s you get $43,486.

Here are some municipal worker salaries from Rhode Island, 2006:
For the school district, the top wage earner was the assistant superintendent of schools, Ewa Pytowska, who has worked in Central Falls for 11 years. Pytowska, who is currently on medical leave, grossed $101,853.92 in 2006.

Kathy Gaouette, the director of human service for the school district, said that during 2006, the year figures were collected by The Journal, William Holland was serving as an interim schools superintendent while the district looked to hire a permanent replacement. Holland worked for the district for eight months.

Pytowska’s pay was followed by Paulo J. Silva, the assistant principal of Calcutt Middle School, who grossed $99,300.50. Silva will retire in June.


Map: Municipal workers' pay, employee figures, town by town

Chart: Top 100 highest paid municipal employees statewide

Public Payroll: Local and state governments employ one in six workers in Rhode Island, an occasional series

Gaouette said that Silva’s salary, set at $91,686, was augmented by a reimbursement of between $6,000 and $7,000 for health benefits that he gets through his wife’s plan, and longevity pay. She said the same was the case of Gerry Manning, who at the time was an assistant principal at Central Falls High School and grossed $96,973.19 to come in number four on the list. Manning’s base pay was set at $91,730 and the rest came from reimbursements for health benefits, she said.

In Rhode Island, 1 in 6 workers work for the local or state government

Posted by: edlharris | March 3, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Obama Wrong, Mathews Wrong

Obama was still wrong to make his negative, across-the-board statement blaming teachers for poor student achievement.

Posted by: efavorite | March 4, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

I agree that Rhode Island state and local government is bloated, but the numbers you cite have nothing to do with the TEACHERS at Central Falls High. The only staff member you mention is Gerry Manning, the assistant principal. In my county, principals and assistant principals are considered administrators and are NOT represented by the union that represents teachers. Is that not the case in Rhode Island?

Posted by: daveairozo | March 4, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

In my (admittedly bloated) school distirct, starting salary for a B.A. is around $48,000 and after 17 years that same B.A. makes over $90,000. Anyone want to argue that the 17 year vet is worth twice what a new teacher brings to the table? How about being worth 80% more than a teacher with 3 years' experience?

And I'll bet that teachers in the next Central Falls will be very concerned if the principal wants to hire a stiff who could put their jobs in jeopardy as well as his/her own. And that they will make every effort to help or outplace fellow teachers who just can't seem to "reach" their students.

Posted by: mct210 | March 7, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

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