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Scoundrels, Educrats, Rogues and Champions

Fired! Entire High School Staff & Faculty

CJW, May 1, 2010 7:45 PM


Update May 17, 2010 - School Matters - Broad & Gist Rebuffed:  "Central Falls Schools Keep Their Jobs"

Update May 17, 2010 - Edweek - Via Associated Press

Update May 16, 2010 - ReHired!  CNN Reports Here:  "Rhode Island School Reaches Deal To Rehire Teachers, Union Says"

Update 3/15/10 - link here
Update 3/12/10 - link here
UPDATE 2/28/10- more details with background and links HERE.

Post:  2/24/10
Watch Debate On CNN's Anderson Cooper
With Head Of Teacher Union
Randi Weingarten

Due to the inability to come to agreement with the teachers union, the school board voted last night and approved a plan to dismiss the entire faculty and staff at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island.

Central Falls, located in a high poverty district, in is an underperforming school with 50% of students failing to complete high school, dropping out between 9th and 12th grades.

A recent debate (before the final vote last night) between American Federation of Teacher Head, Randi Weingarten vs. Steve Perry, CNN education reporter, on Anderson Cooper's show 360 on CNN, illustrated a few key points of the stalemate.  One of issues of contention was the demand by the union for higher pay  - - over the minimum $72,000 yearly salary teachers are receiving here -- to spend extra time with the kids beyond the contract stipulations.  Math proficiency is quoted at 7% of students with about 10% school proficiency in Math and English.

According to Perry's report, there is no money in the till and with the extreme under-performance of the school, the demand for more money from the union was inappropriate.  He continued to wager that "40% of the teachers didn't agree with the union leadership."

Is one of the real issues here a disconnect between what teachers want/expect and what the union's collective bargaining demand?

What's your riff on this?

Story link today in NYTimes here.

Check out videos below.  First clip is CNN; the second is CBS.

Watch CBS News Videos Online


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I find the statement that "40% of the union don't agree with its leadership on the demand for higher wages". I am inclined to believe that it is true.

It's almost impossible to reply intelligently to this article without knowing all the facts--some blips from a newscast or a reporter do not qualify as all the information. Nevertheless, here are a few of my thoughts or ravings!
Once again we blame the teachers for all the ills of a school system, educational system, etc. Even more insidious, we accuse them of only being interested in making more money. (If money were their sole priority, they would not go into teaching--it's clear from the beginning that the earning power of teachers cannot compete with the business sector's earning power.) In this particular case, it seems that the teachers, according to the union, will not put in extra work time without being compensated according to their contracts. Can they really be fired because they refuse to work for free--isn't that against the law? At least, this is what the article is saying that the teachers would not put in extra time---maybe the school board should check out their legal rights before they take such action--maybe the superintendent and the school board should be fired for their bullying tactics!!!

Second, it's obvious that teacher's unions are not perfect; however, their major objectives are to protect teachers and to improve their working conditions so that teachers can perform their duties as effectively and effeciently as possible. If one wants to attract the "best and brightest" to the teaching field, then one needs to offer somewhat competitive opportunities. If we want these "best and brightest" to work in our poorest and often most dangerous schools, we have to be willing to pay them a just wage and protect them. (Contrary to the reporter in the article, there are many proponents who believe that we should pay teachers who teach in the inner city schools more money or give them bonuses! Having personally taught in the inner city of Chicago where I had my car stolen, my window broken, and many of my colleagues had similar incidents--one had her purse stolen--I think "battle pay" might not be a bad idea!)

Most importantly, when are we going to realize that the parents are the first teachers--the school should be an extension of the home. Although there are some weak and ineffectual teachers, when are we going to stop blaming just the teachers for the underperforming schools and start focusing on the underprepared students and parents in the community. The school is not a social insitution whose mission is to remedy all the ills of society, but rather it is a educational instutiton whose mission is to help students achieve academic excellence. This is not easily achieved when students come to school hungry or with bruises from a beating before breakfast by a dysfunctional guardian.

Finally, with regard to this particular high school, how much negotiation really went on before this bullying and insulting tactic of firing took place? This type of action is certainly not a morale booster the teachers and students as they try to finish the school year or are they firing them next week!?? How many times did the superintendent and the school board members go into the school and observe classes and teachers in order to really understand what goes on daily. (Are all the teachers terrible teachers?) Did they take the time to talk to individual teachers or create focus groups to discuss constructive ways to help the students. Did they discuss ways to help the teachers, for example, if they can't afford to have smaller class sizes, what about seeking volunteer aides to help in the classrooms? If there is no one in the community, why not seek the help of college students who want to be teachers to come and work in the classroom as part of their coursework--it would be fabulous on the job training! (Maybe they did all this, but it is not mentioned in the article---the only thing the article can say is that those greedy teachers want more money!)
Another extremely important fact necessary to know when passing judgment on teachers in underperforming schools is what were student competencies in math, etc. when they entered the school as freshman? The article said that just 7 percent of 11th graders tested in the fall, etc. What were the proficiences of the entering freshman in math, reading, writing, etc. For example, if I have a student entering my freshman class reading at 4th grade level and at the end of the year he is reading at the 8th grade level, he has jumped four grade levels which is great--he is successful and I as his teacher am successful, but entering 10th grade, he is still below grade level. Am I to be blamed because he is not at 10th grade reading level? So I caution you not to judge teachers just on post-tests unless you are aware of the pre-tests.

In closing, it's impossible to make a final judgement without more information. Whether or not the teachers were or were not in agreement with their union's decision, it hard to know unless you have the actual voting of each teacher. As a union member, I can say that generally the overwhelming majority of teachers support their union's decisions.

Judith, the new link posted at the top of the post may be helpful - giving more background info plus multiple links:
UPDATE 2/28/10- full story with background with link provided or use this URL:

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