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Public speakers blast teachers union

The Buffalo Teachers Federation drew blast after blast last night during a meeting of the Council's Education Committee.

With tensions strong between the union and the school board, focus shifted to the Council over poor results from city schools.

The current struggle is over the union refusal to bargain on state-mandated teacher evaluations because of a related fight over involuntary transfers out of three of the city's academically worst schools.

The school system has lost on the transfer issue before an arbitrator and in a court appeal, yet plans another appeal.

CAO Executive Director Nathan Hare took issue with the union.

"We have a situation here where the teachers are fighting on something where, if they win they benefit, and if they lose, they benefit," Hare said. "There's something wrong with this picture. Who's not benefiting from this process? Our children and the families."

Many speakers at the meeting blamed the union for poor performance by students and the high absenteeism.

BTF President Phil Rumore says teachers are concerned about bad test scores and have pushed in Albany for support for the struggling schools.

"We don't trust the Board of Education. An arbitrator has found that they violated our contract. A court has said they violated our contract," Rumore told WBFO News.

"Until the Board of Education says 'Alright, you're right, we violated the contract,' then there will be an ability to negotiate this and we can get it done probably in a week or two."

Rumore says delays because of the court appeal threaten Albany school aid, not what the union is doing.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.