A Rhode Island School Fires the Entire Faculty to Improve Students’ Learning Opportunities

firedIf students are not doing well on standardized tests and are not keeping up to national standards, what’s the solution? Offer improved teacher training? Have students attend small group tutoring sessions? Put more of an emphasis on test preparation?

Or, if the school in question is in Central Falls, Rhode Island, the option might be to fire the entire faculty of the school.

This decision was a very controversial one and is sending shockwaves across the country. Even more shocking to some was President Obama’s endorsement of the decision.

“This is the first example of tough love under the Obama regime, and that’s what makes it significant,” said Michael J. Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an educational research and advocacy organization. “I think it’s going to give some cover to other school boards and school superintendents around the country that want to do something similar. They can say the president of the United States, Barack Obama, someone the teachers voted for, supports us here to take some radical actions to shake up our schools.”

Teachers across the country are outraged about the decision and Obama’s support. They see the decision as being insulting towards all teachers. For the four million members of national teachers’ unions, Obama’s support is a personal insult.

“I ripped the Obama sticker off of my truck,” said Zeph Capo, of the Houston Federation of Teachers. “We worked hard for this man, we talked to our neighbors and our fellow teachers about why we should support him, and we’re having to dig the knife out of our back.”

Why did the Central Falls school district choose to fire it’s entire faculty? They wanted to get their share of the $3.5 billion School Improvement Grant. This grant was created to improve failing schools across the country. The grant gives schools four options for improvement: extending instructional hours, converting to charter schools, closing the school, or replacing the principal and half of the staff.

Frances Gallo, the Central Falls superintendent, says they initially chose to extend the school day by 25 minutes. However, the teachers’ union and the superintendent were unable to agree on salary issues. She then felt that the best option was to fire the entire faculty and start over.

President Obama agrees whole-heartedly with Gallo: “If a school continues to fail its students year after year after year, if it doesn’t show signs of improvement, then there’s got to be a sense of accountability,” he said. “And that’s what happened in Rhode Island last week.”

Via the New York Times








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