Boston is reeling from our news that the Longy School of Music is shutting down its pre-college teaching section. Slipped Disc has been criticised for reporting that teachers were fired by email, although we know for certain that this is how some of them received the news.
Of greater concern are the friendly intentions expressed by the New England Conservatory of Music – so quick and so friendly that one has to wonder if there has not been some deal done between the institutions, over the heads of teachers, pupils and staff. The Longy faculty, meanwhile, are enraged. Here are two sample quotes from the ultra-cautious Boston Musical Intelligencer:
New England Conservatory seems particularly hospitable to the displaced of Longy. Ellen Pfeifer, NEC’s Senior Communications Specialist, told BMInt, “New England Conservatory has the friendliest possible relationship with the Longy School of Music and we support the difficult decision they have made as they work to fulfill their long-term aspirations. NEC, will, of course, welcome any students from Longy’s Community Music program. We have a wealth of ensembles, classes, and private teachers for all levels and offer a warm nurturing center of learning for musicians wherever they are on their musical path. Of course, some of the instructors at Longy already teach at NEC, and several of them have already invited their Longy students to study with them at NEC.”
According to Jonathan Cohler, Longy Teachers’ Union spokesman, “This had nothing to do with salaries or allocating space, it’s just vindictive behavior on the part of Longy management. The National Labor Relations Board is investigating and has already found merit to 10 of our charges against Longy. The key to Longy’s actions has been its assertion that it’s making a strategic decision to change its direction because of space requirements. There have been no discussions with us on the issue and when Karen Zorn first came in 5 years ago, one of the first studies she commissioned about space and the allocation of overhead at the school. One of the conclusions that she announced to the entire staff and faculty was that the space crunch was a “myth.” Furthermore, since that study there has been no growth in the student population. The real story is that Longy wants to bust the union before NLRB can act. This action will result in 54 layoffs, including 39 individuals in our bargaining unit. I’m not sure that it’s a coincidence that these layoffs will include the majority of the union’s executive board and all of the remaining union founders.