I came across this great petition to show support for putting an end to seniority-based teacher assignment and hiring as well as “bumping” in Providence Public Schools. If you’re not familiar with bumping, it’s basically that if an employee (in this case a teacher) gets laid off and they have a certain number of years under their belt (regardless of their qualifications or the quality of their teaching), they can bump a junior employee (again, in this case a teacher) from the position, transferring the lay off to that teacher. Again, this does not take performance, qualifications, or the quality of their work into consideration. It is purely seniority based. The unions love this, the residents don’t. Seniority, especially in the case of teachers, does not coincide in the least bit with quality. In fact, in many cases, seniority means dead weight and getting paid a whole lot more. Should we be paying extra for lower quality teachers simply because they have been teaching the longest? Experience only goes so far. Twenty years experience teaching is not twice as good as 10 years if you’ve been teaching the same subject.
If you live in Providence, you should support this petition. The Rhode Island Education Commissioner signed an order to put an end to this practice and force school districts to hire and promote based on interviews and actual performance rather than seniority. The Providence Teachers Union, disgustingly, filed a lawsuit to overturn this order.
Petition to end seniority hiring and bumping in Providence Public Schools
A new bill (PDF) introduced in the US House of Representatives contains a proposal that would require colleges and universities to demonstrate that they are taking “proper” anti-piracy measures or else they risk losing federal money for financial aid. It comes as no surprise that the MPAA is applauding this measure, though it does comes as a great surprise that the bill was introduced by the Democrats.
As someone who works in higher education IT, I can safely say that this bill would be extremely detrimental to all American colleges and universities. It would prove to be the most harmful to under-privileged students who depend upon that financial aid money and student loans in order to attend college. While colleges should take certain measures to help combat copyright infringement, it is not their job to be the copyright police, nor should it be. That is exactly what this bill would do. Most college IT departments are under heavy financial stress and cannot meet the needs of the students, the faculty, the staff, and in many cases, the research staff as well. This bill would cause unnecessary financial burden on the colleges and universities who are already suffering budgetary issues. The only responsibility colleges and universities have in regards to copyright infringement is education. They should be educating students on the issues surrounding file sharing and peer-to-peer. They should not be spending time actually fighting the copyright infringement. Most colleges already use technology to throttle traffic that goes towards P2P networks (though I do have my own issues with that as well, as I believe all traffic should get the same priority). The only business in which colleges should be is education. Educate the students on what copyright infringement entails. Educate them on the law and the consequences. In the end, however, it is the students’ responsibility to be sure they are not breaking the laws. The colleges should not be punished for something their students are doing. Colleges are not allowing the behavior any more than commercial ISP’s allow it. Colleges simply make for an easy target and that’s all this bill is doing, making a target out of colleges and enabling the MPAA and RIAA. It is their job to protect their copyrights, not the job of colleges or of Congress.
I urge you to contact your representatives and senators in Congress and urge them to fight this bill or at least remove this particular segment of the bill.
Discussion at Slashdot
Update: According to Boing Boing, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is also behind this. You can also contact Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at www.speaker.gov if you do not live in her district.