Rhode Island School District Fires Entire Staff of Failing School

Mary Katharine Ham
Weekly Standard
2/26/2010

Central Falls High School in Rhode Island has been among the state’s lowest-performing schools for seven years. Only 7 percent of students are proficient in math, and fewer than half graduate.

This month, school superintendent Fran Gallo fired the entire staff of Central Falls after teachers’ unions refused to acquiesce to reforms that would have lengthened the school day, required teachers to provide tutoring (with pay) and attend summer workshops (with pay). The sticking point was that the superintendent could not find money to pay teachers for a school day lenthened by 30 minutes. The new schedule would have had them working from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. to 2:25.

They will all be able to reapply, but only 50 percent can be rehired. Brilliant negotiating on the union’s part.

Gallo had this to say, shortly before the firings:

“I need them to agree to the six conditions,” Gallo said Wednesday. “We have a graduation rate of 48 percent. I have 19-year-olds in classes with 14-year-olds. It’s the middle of the school year and 50 percent of the students at the high school are failing all of their classes. We need these changes so we can move from where we are to where we need to be for the health and safety of the whole state. We have to meet these students where they are, bring these students up and lift the bar.”

…For a look at what happens when you can’t get rid of teachers, check out John Stossel’s piece on New York City’s union problems

MKH’s article continues at the Weekly Standard.

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