In recent days, the Central Falls school superintendent fired en mass all 93 administrators, teachers and support staff at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island. Following public outcry, she now has agreed to resume bargaining and include the union in all discussions on a comprehensive education plan that will help students and teachers succeed.
What is this all about?
As a parent whose children are the products of a quality public education, I certainly know that every public school must have competent, qualified, adequately resourced and parent-supported teachers who educate our children.
However, teachers alone are not the sole determinant of our children's ability to learn, pass competency tests or graduate from high school.
It takes parents and the community. In other words, "It takes a village."
As my late mother used to say, "You don't throw the baby out with the bath water." In my opinion, by firing the entire staff, the Rhode Island superintendent did just that. The superintendent refused to work with the teachers to help turn around what even the teachers and their union agreed was a situation that urgently needed to be turned around. In fact, teachers were starting to see increased reading and writing scores at the rate of 22 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
Most worrisome, the superintendent's actions were backed by President Obama, who stated his support for federal rewards for local school districts that fire underperforming teachers and close failing schools. I was disappointed that President Obama has taken the side of "no due process" and has, in my opinion, allowed this to become a Sister Souljah moment.
At a time when we are seeing unprecedented job loss in our country, across every community, this is certainly not a time to add to the unemployment rates with these fired Central Falls High School employees. Employees denied due process and the opportunity to be a part of the solution in helping to turn Central Falls High School around is not the way to go.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement that she was pleased the superintendent has agreed to resume talks:
"The dedicated teachers and staff [of Central Falls High] want nothing more than to continue and improve upon the progress they have made. Real, sustainable change will only happen when all stakeholders work together."
Keep the pressure on the Central Falls school administration. Sign a petition here and tell them the students deserve better--they should work with teachers to build on improvements at the high school.
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