by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Section 95-98 of the North Carolina General Statutes forbids collective bargaining by public employees. As I’ve explained in the past, it’s one of the many reasons I feel lucky to live in North Carolina. A recent New York Times article about the New York City school system provides a vivid illustration of why this statutory provision is so important.
The topic of the article is a program operated by the NYC school system called “the reserve.” As the article explains, “The reserve is essentially a parking lot for staff members who have lost their positions … but cannot be fired.” The article names two specific teachers who are currently marking time in the reserve:
Francis Blake has not held a permanent position in a New York City public school in at least five years. At his last job, in a Bronx elementary school, records show he was disciplined for incompetence, insubordination and neglect of duties — he had been caught sleeping in a classroom when he was supposed to be helping with dismissal.
Felicia Alterescu, a special-education teacher, has been without a permanent post since 2010, despite high demand for special education teachers. According to records, in addition to getting a string of unsatisfactory ratings, she was disciplined for calling in sick when she actually went to a family reunion. She also did not tell the Education Department that she had been arrested on harassment charges. …
Mr. Blake said that he had applied for a number of jobs, and blamed his trouble in finding a permanent position on his salary. Both he and Ms. Alterescu were at the top teacher pay scale of $113,762 last year. …
But there are thousands more, including:
[A] science teacher who, in her last permanent job, did not bother to regularly enter students’ grades, according to the arbitrator’s decision. She gave one student in her earth science class a grade of 83 percent, despite the fact that the girl had never come to school. Administrators who observed her classes often found students talking, listening to music on their headphones, or even asleep.
[A] special-education teacher said to have disciplined autistic students by making them stand for 45 minutes to an hour; leaning on them to prevent them from getting out of their seats, and making them hold their breakfast trays for 10 minutes before allowing them to eat. An arbitrator wrote that she was “unquestionably guilty of corporal punishment,” yet let her go with a fine and training. …
Why does New York go on paying these incompetents inflated salaries for doing nothing year are after? The answer, of course, is the teachers’ union:
The reserve … grew significantly as a result of a 2005 deal between the Bloomberg administration … and the teachers’ union. Since then, the union has fiercely protected the jobs of teachers in the reserve, resisting attempts to put a time limit on how long a teacher can remain there.
Luckily for us, Section 95-98 of the General Statutes protects North Carolina’s students and North Carolina’s taxpayers from this sort of abuse!