R.I. Chief Orders Providence to Relax Staffing Rules
In what will likely be his final battle over school reform as education commissioner in Rhode Island, Peter J. McWalters has ordered the 24,000-student Providence district to allow principals in select schools to handpick teacher talent—a staffing model that runs counter to provisions in the school system’s collective bargaining agreement.
Although the order has won the support of Providence Superintendent Thomas M. Brady, it raises questions about the intersection of state and federal law with the contract, and it could put both men at loggerheads with the Providence Teachers Union.
"We're using the now-known research evaluations that say teacher hiring and teacher assignment are two of the most powerful things a school can do to create a school culture that is collegial and carries a sense of responsibility," Mr. McWalters said in an interview. "These [orders] are going after what we now know are barriers in contracts, where hiring is off a list, and teacher assignment is done...
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