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January 14. 2013 6:23PM

Coaching clause: MEA contract provision must go

Mike Cotter, junior varsity baseball coach at Manchester High School Central, was not the most likely winner of the varsity head coaching job last fall. His elevation to the coveted position was notable because he beat out some other experienced and respected coaches in the city. Though Athletics Director Dave Gosselin chose Cotter, who played baseball at Central in the 1990s, for his coaching abilities, that decision has been vacated. Cotter's offense: He is not a member of the Manchester Education Association, the city's teachers union.

The city's contract with the union requires that teachers get first crack at school coaching jobs. Cotter is a paraprofessional, and therefore not a member of the MEA. His job will be reposted so that a union member can have it.

The MEA, as all teachers unions do, claims that its top priority is the students, not MEA members. The emptiness of that claim is exposed by this contract provision. Coaching is not the same as classroom teaching. It requires a different skill set. Anyone who has played scholastic sports can verify that. Gosselin, the school system's AD, also confirms it.

"I'm concerned that someone from outside that maybe has a strong background will be overlooked to hire a qualified teacher," he told this newspaper last week. "I think we want to get the players the best possible person to be their coach. Sometimes good teachers don't make good coaches, and vice versa."

But getting the best coach does not concern the MEA. Advancing the financial prospects of its members does. Ben Dick, head of the MEA, said last week, "no non-teacher should get an interview until H.R. determines that there's no qualified candidates in the pool."

Note the adjective: "qualified." The MEA's position is that given a choice between a great non-union coach and a merely "qualified" union member, schools should entrust children's athletic instruction to the union member.

The MEA's contract is up for renewal this year. The school board must not renew this provision, which places the interests of MEA members above the interests of our children.


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