Wednesday, February 17, 2010

High Noon at the Union Corral

Rhode Island District to fire
every high school teacher

A month ago, Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist mandated that the Central Falls school 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.

Superintendent Frances 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.

This from the Providence Journal:

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 74teachers 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....

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.

Thanks Gene.

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