Conservative High School Teacher Reinstated To Classroom Following Uproar

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Teacher union contracts seem to work very well, a little TOO well, for most teachers but in the case of conservative Tim Latham perhaps not so much.

Lawrence Kansas High School teacher Tim Latham is back in the saddle after being reinstated by the same school district that recently refused to renew his contract after it became evident to the school administrators that he just might not be on the same side of the political fence as the rest of the teaching staff. A previously posted story covering how this 20 year veteran American government and history educator came to be fired from his job can be found here.

Publicity over his case really took off when Latham appeared on the Fox News Channel recently. He claimed in subsequent news reports that he has received thousands of emails, letters and calls from all over the world in support of his efforts to get his job back and there is little doubt the school district was equally inundated with people outraged at the fact a well qualified teacher was being let go simply because of political bias. Without the public outcry over this situation it’s quite possible Latham never would have had his contract renewed.

According to Latham and district superintendent Randy Weseman, school administrators didn’t bother adhering to the union contract in effect at the time they decided to fire the teacher, they simply told him last April that his first year at Lawrence High School would be his last.

Latham filed a grievance over the firing saying administrators had not followed the procedures called for in the teachers’ union contract that required them to conduct four 20 minute in class evaluations throughout the school year. Eh, why fiddle around with rules and regulations when you’re dealing with a lowly conservative teacher huh?

It started to become apparent to Latham there was an underlying agenda to get rid of him when the high school assistant principal Jan Gentry called him into her office and dressed him down over a student (as in one) complaint that he was picking on Barack Obama during classroom discussions and for failing to air Obama’s inauguration on television. Never mind that Latham has NEVER disrupted classroom studies by televising a presidential inauguration in all his years of teaching. Gentry also had a beef with Latham over his school affiliated TeacherWeb personal website calling it “too patriotic” and a McCain/Palin bumper sticker on his car, making the comment after she had noticed it, “I don’t know how you could support that woman.”

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Some have commented on various websites that politics had absolutely nothing to do with Latham getting the ax. Really? Since school administrators obviously didn’t cite any issues of Latham’s behavior or teaching skills as being in conflict with policies and procedures or the union contract what other criteria could they have used in their decision to fire him?

Fortunately superintendent Weseman realized the miscarriage of justice in Latham’s circumstance, no doubt with the outpouring of public opinion for the teacher helping him see the light, and has overturned the high school administrators’ decision to not renew Latham’s contract so he will be back in the classroom teaching American history and government classes starting in the fall.

Now contrast how easy it seemed to be for the Lawrence High School top brass to give Latham his walking papers with what was reported yesterday concerning teachers in the New York City school district.

700 NYC teachers are paid to do nothing

Hundreds of New York City public school teachers accused of offenses ranging from insubordination to sexual misconduct are being paid their full salaries to sit around all day playing Scrabble, surfing the Internet or just staring at the wall, if that’s what they want to do.

Because their union contract makes it extremely difficult to fire them, the teachers have been banished by the school system to its “rubber rooms” ā€” off-campus office space where they wait months, even years, for their disciplinary hearings.

The 700 or so teachers can practice yoga, work on their novels, paint portraits of their colleagues ā€” pretty much anything but school work. They have summer vacation just like their classroom colleagues and enjoy weekends and holidays through the school year.

“You just basically sit there for eight hours,” said Orlando Ramos, who spent seven months in a rubber room, officially known as a temporary reassignment center, in 2004-05. “I saw several near-fights. `This is my seat.’ `I’ve been sitting here for six months.’ That sort of thing.”

Ramos was an assistant principal in East Harlem when he was accused of lying at a hearing on whether to suspend a student. Ramos denied the allegation but quit before his case was resolved and took a job in California.

Because the teachers collect their full salaries of $70,000 or more, the city Department of Education estimates the practice costs the taxpayers $65 million a year. The department blames union rules.

“It is extremely difficult to fire a tenured teacher because of the protections afforded to them in their contract,” spokeswoman Ann Forte said.

The rest of this article can be read here>>>

There’s more to the insanity. It seems the city is also getting soaked for over $70 million a year to maintain 1400 teachers in something called the Absent Teacher Reserve program.

It would seem like a pretty good gig: About 1,400 teachers in New York City are receiving full salaries and benefits even though they don’t have permanent jobs. Two hundred and five of them have been without full-time work for three years. And they can continue receiving payments indefinitely even if they never secure new positions.

These educators are members of what is called the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR), a program in which unionized teachers are placed when they don’t have jobs. They end up there after being displaced by school closings, program cuts, or voluntary transfers. (SNIP)

Over the last three years, the city has shelled out almost $200 million to compensate ATR teachers. This school year alone, in the midst of a recession, TNTP has projected the reserve will cost about $75 million. “I could use those [millions] to spend on early childhood education or to fund retention strategies to get our greatest teachers to stay,” an official at the city’s Department of Education (DOE) says.

The rest of this article can be read here>>>

From what I have been able to determine, new teachers are often granted tenure or as close to a guaranteed high paying job for life in most states after a two to three year probationary period. The amount of time needed to earn tenure is usually decided by each state legislature. Generally speaking, if a tenured teacher moves from one district to another they need only complete one year at their new school then begin a new year and they are able to pick up where they left off with their tenured status which would be precisely the position Latham found himself.

How is it that it is so difficult for the New York City school district, in fact districts all over the country that find themselves in the same boat, to unload millions of dollars worth of teachers that, for whatever reason, administrators do not want in the classroom yet a highly qualified, competent 20 year veteran American history and government teacher (Lord knows how badly we need these particular teachers right now) can be so easily kicked to the curb?

Well I think we all know the answer to that one.

This entry was posted in U.S. Politics.

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