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Fire All The Teachers!

Fire All The Teachers!

Last Tuesday night, a school board in Rhode Island voted 5 – 2 to fire all the teachers, the administration and the entire support staff at Central Falls High School. Ninety-three people, including the principal, three assistant principals and 77 teachers, will lose their jobs.

The reason? Central Falls High School is under-performing: in 2009, 48 percent of its students graduated after four years, compared with a state average of 75 percent, according to a state education department spokesperson. And last fall, 7 percent of 11th graders tested at the proficient level in math, and 55 percent in reading.

The firings take effect at the end of the academic year. This is the final step for schools deemed “failing” under No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  At this point, state and district officials have four options for under-performing schools: the turnaround model, which includes improving instruction as well as replacing staff; reopening a school as a charter or under an approved management system; closing a school altogether; and transforming the school through such measures as intense teacher development and extended learning time for students.

The turnaround plan in Central Falls came after negotiations between the district and the local union over other options broke down. According to School Superintendent Frances Gallo, teachers were originally asked to agree to a package of changes to help improve the school, including lengthening the school day, requiring teachers to offer more tutoring, get additional training and eat lunch with students once a week. Gallo said she decided to fire her teaching staff after union officials said they were not getting paid enough for the additional work.

Can this really be the best way to solve the problem of this school? Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education, applauded the decision and said in an interview, “The status quo needs to change. This is not the kind of stability I want. I’m looking for improvement.” Governor Donald L. Carcieri of Rhode Island, a Republican and a former math teacher, said he supported the board’s decision, calling it “courageous.” Not everyone agrees. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, issued this statement: “Firing all of the teachers is a failed approach and will not result in the
kinds of changes necessary to improve instruction and learning.”

Indeed, this seems to be yet another example of trying to impose the NCLB one-size-fits-all model on every single school, regardless of the circumstances. In this case, these are the following: Central Falls, a former mill town with a population of around 19,000 and an unemployment rate of 13.8 percent, is one of the poorest cities in the state: 41 percent of children live in poverty and 63
percent of the high school’s students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Of the 800 students at the high school, 65 percent are Hispanic and speak English as a second language.

And there’s more: George McLaughlin, a guidance counselor at the school, pointed out the school has a huge turnover rate, with one in three students leaving every year : “We have the most transient population in this state.
Nobody comes close to us. So when they say that 50 percent of the people graduate, a very high percentage of our students leave our school. They return. They leave again. They go back to other countries.”

So this city which is already suffering from some huge economic problems is now being punished again by the firing of the entire high school staff and faculty. Is this fair? Does it even make sense?

Central Falls’ story is just the latest skirmish in the battle over school reform that has been playing out in other troubled districts in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, where it was announced last month that 19 schools will be closed for not making the grade. Experts predict that more such cases are likely to happen across the U.S. in the coming year because of pressure from the Obama adminstration.

And what’s going to happen next? Of course it’s vital to deal with the problem of consistently failing schools, but after firing all the teachers, the school board had better be ready with a grand new plan to help that school improve.

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Judy Molland

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183 comments

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12:56PM PST on Mar 7, 2010

This is bad news

4:38AM PST on Mar 6, 2010

Maybe we should go further and fire all the schools. With unions and requirements and expectations increasing constantly. Maybe parents should be responsible for educating their own children. Don't expect government to take care of everything for you, then complain that they aren't doing it well enough.

1:59AM PST on Mar 4, 2010

Dell, J.,
And produce a nation of even more illiterate, innumerate, ignorant morons? Is it not already bad enough?

3:09PM PST on Mar 3, 2010

Extreme poverty and unemployment.
English is a second language for over half.
A very mobile student body who often is only there for part of the school years.
A VERY difficult segment of the school population to work with.
Asking for a lot of extra hours and effort without any additional pay would make any teacher think twice (or 3 times). You can bet the Union will attempt to get a settlement out of this one which will cost the district.
The ones hurting are the students, and I have no idea what the answer is.
On the bright side there is almost 100 new job positions to fill. Hopefully those filling them will improve their lives, and the lives of the students.

2:24PM PST on Mar 3, 2010

It is important to bear in mind that not every child wants to learn no matter how hard a teacher tries to teach them. Make the lessons more active and exciting tends to help, alongside a reduced expectancy rate to encourage others to meet their achievements with a fair chance of having a career.

6:00AM PST on Mar 3, 2010

They could do what the English did. Lower the standards so nearly everyone has a good result.

12:10AM PST on Mar 3, 2010

One’s sympathy goes to some of the staff at Central Falls H.S. At least some of them must have tried to penetrate the dense shroud of invincible ignorance that envelopes the U.S.A. Not only would the teachers have needed to overcome the baleful influence of parents who are completely unaware of their shortcomings, but also they would have daily been combating the barrage of T.V. garbage, the Hollywood hogwash, the blatantly biased and distorted “truth” purveyed by the media, the flood of porn and spam polluting the internet, attacking their pupils. Too they would have had to resist the bureaucratic twaddle that regularly descends upon them as well as the codswallop of “freedom” and “rights” that is totally inimical to the order and discipline necessary for the flourishing of learning. Those of us blissfully distant merely shrug or laugh at such chaos, but it is quite worrying as the U.S.A. tries to disseminate its malign influence around the world; it sells to the brainless masses. It is also lethally dangerous as there are those who, seeing the harm that threatens their more orderly existence, seek to destroy the threat at source. Some call them terrorists; to others they are heroes. Judy is to be heartily congratulated for questioning the “system”.

12:07AM PST on Mar 3, 2010

One’s sympathy goes to some of the staff at Central Falls H.S. At least some of them must have tried to penetrate the dense shroud of invincible ignorance that envelopes the U.S.A. Not only would the teachers have needed to overcome the baleful influence of parents who are completely unaware of their shortcomings, but also they would have daily been combating the barrage of T.V. garbage, the Hollywood hogwash, the blatantly biased and distorted “truth” purveyed by the media, the flood of porn and spam polluting the internet, attacking their pupils. Too they would have had to resist the bureaucratic twaddle that regularly descends upon them as well as the codswallop of “freedom” and “rights” that is totally inimical to the order and discipline necessary for the flourishing of learning. Those of us blissfully distant merely shrug or laugh at such chaos, but it is quite worrying as the U.S.A. tries to disseminate its malign influence around the world; it sells to the brainless masses. It is also lethally dangerous as there are those who, seeing the harm that threatens their more orderly existence, seek to destroy the threat at source. Some call them terrorists; to others they are heroes. Judy is to be heartily congratulated for questioning the “system”.

4:13PM PST on Mar 2, 2010

Denise C- Most teachers do that portion of their job quite well. I remember my teachers making lessons that would have been great and fun if only I would have activly participated.
I mentioned this in my first post (if you care to look, of course you don't have to- I don't read all the post in a thread!) I was getting teased alot and really didn't want to participate with my class mates and really wasn't interested in anything- that made most of the exciting lessons hell. that was in year 2. it took until year 10 for me to take an intrest in school. It would have been year 5 if poor Mr Groves hadn't broken his hip and retired.. he was one of those truly great teachers that would get ecxited about everything school and was one of us (ok- by one of us I mean he had a tat and that was cool. lol.)
But anyway, point is that I didn't want to learn. So I didn't really learn much. Dispite all these great teachers I've had They couldn't tell somthing was really wrong because i didn't tell them- and I had been like that the whole time they had known me so how could they tell somthing was off?

Now, what if my parents had taken an intrest in my schooling? what if they had actually gone to parent teacher night or to the meatings that the teachers tried to set up when I was failing? (let me tell you- those notes home they gave me never reached the eyes of my parents.... untill mum found the draw of them last year.) things might have been very different for me.

3:56PM PST on Mar 2, 2010

Wow...that's a lot of people.

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