Buffalo teachers union preventing district from receiving $33.4 million in state aid

December 5, 2012

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Victor Skinner Victor Skinner

Victor is a communications specialist for EAG and joined in 2009. Previously, he was a newspaper journalist.
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By Steve Gunn
EAGnews.org

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Across the nation, many local teachers unions are preventing extra state dollars from going to school districts until various items on their self-serving agendas are addressed.

You can add the Buffalo Teachers Federation to that disturbing list.

The Buffalo district is set to receive an extra $33.4 million in state aid during the current academic year, as long as it has a new teacher evaluation plan in place by Jan. 17, according to the Buffalo News.

But the teachers union refuses to negotiate a new evaluation system unless the district drops its appeal of a recent court decision regarding the forced transfer of 51 teachers out of low-performing schools this fall.

The district was forced to make the teacher transfers under terms of a federal improvement model for three underperforming schools. But an arbitrator ruled that the transfer violated the teacher union collective bargaining agreement, and a New York Supreme Court justice recently upheld that decision.

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court will hear the district’s appeal later this year, according to the news report.

School Superintendent Pamela Brown said the district will not drop the legal appeal.

Brown noted that more than 600 of 700 school districts in New York had submitted new teacher evaluation plans to the state as of last week, with the blessing of their unions.

“Why we can’t get that kind of cooperation in Buffalo, I just don’t understand,” Brown was quoted as saying.

But the union is determined to get its way before the district can get its money.

“Why don’t they just abide by the contract?” Buffalo union boss Phillip Rumore was quoted as saying. “Once they agree that the teachers can go back if they want, we’re willing to sit down with them.”

Why doesn’t the union accept the fact that the teachers had to be transferred from the three terrible schools as part of a plan to better serve students? The teachers did not lose their jobs. They were merely transferred to other schools in the area.

Is their transfer such a tragedy that it’s worth blocking crucial dollars for the cash-strapped school district?

If Rumore and his union maintain their stubborn position, it will say a lot about their lack of commitment to students. And that should tell the citizens of Buffalo, yet again, that union collective bargaining is a very bad fit for public schools.

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