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RI Town To Fire Every School Teacher

From Rhode Island’s Providence Journal:

Central Falls to fire every high school teacher

Saturday, February 13, 2010

CENTRAL FALLS –– The teachers didn’t blink.

Under threat of losing their jobs if they didn’t go along with extra work for not a lot of extra pay, the Central Falls Teachers’ Union refused Friday morning to accept a reform plan for one of the worst-performing high schools in the state.

The superintendent didn’t blink either.

After learning of the union’s position, School Supt. Frances Gallo notified the state that she was switching to an alternative she was hoping to avoid: firing the entire staff at Central Falls High School. In total, about 100 teachers, administrators and assistants will lose their jobs.

Gallo blamed the union’s “callous disregard” for the situation, saying union leaders “knew full well what would happen” if they rejected the six conditions Gallo said were crucial to improving the school. The conditions are adding 25 minutes to the school day, providing tutoring on a rotating schedule before and after school, eating lunch with students once a week, submitting to more rigorous evaluations, attending weekly after-school planning sessions with other teachers and participating in two weeks of training in the summer.

The high school’s 74 teachers will receive letters during school vacation advising them to attend a Feb. 22 meeting where each will be handed a termination notice that takes effect for the 2010-’11 school year, Gallo said.

Gallo said she was devastated and that she had thought the union would agree to her conditions, even though she did not offer to pay the teachers more for most of the additional responsibilities.

A month ago, Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist mandated that the district adopt one of four models to fix the troubled school, which has some of the lowest graduation rates and test scores in the state.

Gallo’s first choice, the “transformation” model, was consistent with her conditions on how to improve the high school. But if the teachers would not agree, the superintendent said she would select her second choice, the “turnaround” model, which requires the removal of the entire staff of the school. The turnaround model allows the district to hire back no more than 50 percent of the old staff.

“I am saddened and shaken at the core by the enormous ramifications of my responsibilities,” Gallo said. “The only solace I have is that I know I provided every opportunity possible, in fully public and transparent ways, the means to avoid this.”

Union officials say they, too, want to improve the high school but are unwilling to sign off on the six conditions, especially without receiving additional pay. In a letter, union officials said they do not think Gallo has the authority to fire the teachers and she must negotiate the terms of the reforms.

In an interview, Jane M. Sessums, union president, said the union intends to fight the terminations, although she was not ready to say how…

Most teachers declined to talk as they left school yesterday. But a couple of teachers paused long enough to share their thoughts.

Sheila Lawless-Burke, an English-as-a-Second Language teacher, said teachers are not opposed to working harder — or longer; they simply want the opportunity to negotiate the details of their contract, not have it imposed from above.

“It’s all about the politics,” she said, “about making Fran Gallo look good. The issue is having the right to negotiate. Once we allow the superintendent to get her foot in the door, where will it stop?” …

TIMELINE Showdown over Central Falls HS

March 17, 2007: Frances A. Gallo, veteran educator and former deputy superintendent of Providence schools, is chosen as Central Falls school superintendent.

2008-2009: Test scores remain a problem at Central Falls High School as only 3 percent of 11th graders are proficient in math in 2008 and 7 percent in 2009.

November 2009: Gallo begins talks with teachers on her plans to reform the high school.

Jan. 11, 2010: State Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist names the high school as one of the state’s worst schools and in need of closure or complete overhaul. Gallo says she already has a plan ready to implement in the fall. The plan would include a longer school day, more training, more tutoring.

Feb. 1-5, 2010: Gallo and union leaders are unable to reach an agreement on pay issues for the extra work. She says the failure is forcing her to switch to a reform model that calls for firing all teachers at the high school.

Feb. 9, 2010: During a packed meeting, Gallo gives the teachers’ union more time to agree on her original plan.

Feb. 12, 2010 Talks fail; Gallo proceeds with across-the-board firing plan.


We need more gutty superintendents like Ms. Gallo.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, February 14th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

8 Responses to “RI Town To Fire Every School Teacher”

  1. mr_bill says:

    My favorite quote of the week:

    “It’s all about the politics,” she said, “about making Fran Gallo look good. The issue is having the right to negotiate. Once we allow the superintendent to get her foot in the door, where will it stop?” …

    Wrong, its not about politics, its about educating our young people, but the rest of the quote says, in essence, “once people realize that insted of cowering to unions which are unwilling to work in the best interests of their employers, they can just fire them and replace them with employees that are willing to work, we are finished–these kids might acutally get an education, then where will we be?”

    Well done Mrs. Gallo!

  2. proreason says:

    Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. It was a historic occasion and a shot fired across the bow. It showed everybody that he walked the walk.

    No planes fell out of the sky.

    The country made a remarkable turnaround.

    But nowadays, the approach is always to talk the talk.

    Ms. Gallo is a hero.

    • JohnMG says:

      Let’s see now. What state is it that Patrick Kennedy is declining to run for re-election to the House of Representatives?

      The whole community should support Ms. Gallo and the decision she made. After all, it is their money that funds the school system, and no group of citizens should be held hostage to any union. They all need to stand firm.

      Is it possible the people are taking the country back…….one small step at a time?

      Let’s roll!!!

  3. Proof says:

    “only 3 percent of 11th graders are proficient in math in 2008”
    Wow! If the school district didn’t hire back 50% of these doofii, how would they know? Heh.

  4. Mithrandir says:

    Honestly, THIS DOES (almost) NOTHING.

    “The conditions are adding 25 minutes to the school day.”–This makes NO difference what-so-ever. Students should study at home an extra 25 minutes a day instead of eating, watching t.v. playing games, hangin’ with friends.

    “Tutoring on a rotating schedule before and after school.” –Possibly, to answer students questions on a personal level, but many students need 1 on 1 tutors because they are grades behind their actual level. Kids need summer school to catch up, not teachers.

    “Eating lunch with students once a week.” –Are you kidding me? Eating lunch? Teachers need that time to relax from these little demons. Kids also need their personal time with their friends to talk.

    “Submitting to more rigorous evaluations.” –For who? The teachers? Districts hand teachers a pile of text books and guess what? That’s it! Not a lot of supplimentary materials. Teachers have to go out and find workbooks, lesson plans, and submit $ to buy those lesson plans. Most of it is on the inventiveness of the teacher.

    “Attending weekly after-school planning sessions with other teachers.” –They should have been doing this anyway, but what happens is nothing gets done. Anyone who needs help with something, is basically on their own. No one is going to sacrifice their time to help another teacher solve this or that problem. It’s more of a listening session, rather than a doing session.

    “Participating in two weeks of training in the summer.”–Again, more listening sessions that don’t do anything. Teachers are already required to get training to keep their license current.

    What is needed is supplies that make the lessons interesting. Interactive maps, role-playing supplies, live cultures for microscopes, interesting videos or school-sponsored websites to gain more information, all that stuff is missing. What teachers fall back on are handouts handouts handouts. That is what is cheap and accessable.

    Rewards system: money spent to reward better grades with tickets or prizes works with some students, not all.

    Changing home/parent culture: Perhaps parents should come in for 2 weeks in the summer and evaluate why their kids are failing school? How much t.v. do they watch? Is education important at home? How much time do the students spend studying?

    Cut the sports progams! Why a failing school is wasting money on physical education is beyond me. Everyone is failing science, but blow your cash on the football program?

    Students that are failing need to stay in school all year, and with SOME staff or substitutes doing the work—not have the entire staff sit around and theorize how to make a better school for 2 weeks.

    This is just a show-trial. It’s the Bell-Curve theorm: some students suck, and they are always going to suck. It’s just that this school has accumulated a larger dose of those that will always suck.

  5. jobeth says:

    This took place in the hospital I worked at. Due to poor management (crooked management) the hospital was under reorganization. Even though we had a union, every non professional, (RN) in the nursing dept was fired and had to be reapply for rehire to continue to work. The union couldn’t stop it because of the change in management. They weeded out a load of deadwood with that tactic. And the ones that were left actually worked a lot harder.

    Patient care got a lot better all of a sudden. Of course after a few months and the dust settled…it all went back to normal.

    Although unions…if kept small and locally independent to a specific workplace can have their place…this was a large national union who very quickly began to kill the goose that laid the golden egg again.

    The teacher’s unions are the worse thing that can happen to any school system…that and a bevy of libs on the school board…especially if you have both. You’ll get every social program under the sun taught to the kids…but no time to teach the basic core subjects.

    BTW…did you know some school systems have stopped teaching cursive writing? I nearly fell over when our school system told us that. Now how in the world can a person even sign their name if they don’t know cursive writing? The rationale? Everything is printed now…with computers and such. Rubbish. But those same kids MUST learn how to place a condom on a cucumber!

    I know, how about taking the time it takes for condom use, toss the cucumber, and use that time for teaching cursive? What a novel concept.

    As far as individual teachers were concerned some are great and some are horrible. One, in our case, spoke ebonics to the kids, stayed on her computer most of the day when she wasn’t on her cell phone in class…slapped an assignments up on the board…In an ESE class where half the class couldn’t read…and expected the assistants to help the students through what for some was impossible. This same teacher was “head” of the ESE classes and when parents requested (or demanded as in our case) that their child be removed, she took it out on the new teacher, who had after school ‘craft classes’ to teach math and reading skills to these kids since the HS curriculum didn’t include that in the content. The bad teacher wrote up the good teacher for having a craft club…because it had not been approved…by her. The club had to stop. This good teacher had to fight continually to find ways to ‘smuggle’ in ways to teach her ESE students.

    Two things about this teacher…she was black…they had a union. This teacher is still collecting a pay check. She needed firing. She wasn’t doing her job and the students weren’t learning. But then there was that pesky thing called a teacher’s union. I thought people became teachers in order to teach. The kids lose in these situations.

    When I was in the third grade I remember our teachers correcting our speech every time we spoke incorrectly. Now it’s the teachers that are speaking that way to the kids. And we expect our children to learn…how?

    The good teacher, is already getting burned out after only a few years of political nonsense slapping her knuckles every time she tried to teach.

    The teacher’s union needs firing in my opinion.

  6. joeblough says:

    A tiny step perhaps, but definitely in the right direction.

    I read elsewhere that NORAD is on alert for flying pigs.

  7. NoNeoCommies says:

    The best thing about firing the lot of them is that you don’t have to hire them all back.
    Time to take out the trash!
    Don’t re-hire the ones that really needed to go but were protected by the union that cared nothing for those footing the bill or the children.

    When you finish with the school system, start in on the local, county, and state government workers.

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