Fire Them All: The Rest of the Story
As earlier reported, Central Falls, Rhode Island, Superintendent, Frances Gallo, had pinks slips placed in the mailboxes of all 74 of the high school’s teachers. According to the news report, Central Fall High School is one of the poorest performing schools in the state, with a less than 50 percent graduation rate. “Supt. Gallo said the teachers would not agree on a plan to fix the struggling school that included a longer school day and tutoring before and after school.” The report indicates that the teachers wanted to be compensated for working extra duties.
The Rest of the Story
In an announcement released today, Rhode Island Education Commissioner, Deborah A. Gist, has given Central Falls Superintendent, Frances Gallo, 120 days to develop a plan to improve Central Falls High School. According to the press release, last week, Gallo submitted a proposal to use the “turnaround” model as the basis for reform of the high school. The “turnaround” model requires replacement of the principal and at least 50 percent of the staff, “a new governance structure, better use of data, expanded learning time, and social-emotional and community-oriented services and supports for students.”
The press release indicated “Following procedures from the U.S. Department of Education, last month the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (RIDE) identified Central Falls High School and five schools in Providence as the persistently lowest-achieving schools in the state. Commissioner Gist ordered Providence and Central Falls to convene an advisory group of community stakeholders and to select for each school one of the four federal models for school reform: turnaround, school closure, restart, or transformation.”
- Is this the first of many school “terminations” that we will be reading about in the coming months?
- On the surface, it appears much easier to simply use the “termination” or is it the “turnaround” model.
- It is much easier to “terminate” a school that to actually work with the staff to “turnaround” the school. To “turnaround” a school you actually have to know what you are doing. To “terminate” a school, all you need to know how to do is distribute pink slips, and any bureaucrat can do that.
- Instead of “terminating” the school, why not just skip to the good part? Why not give the school the resources that they actually need in order to raise student achievement.
- The only thing that this approach to school improvement does is to single out the poorest schools.
- Not only did 74 teachers get pink slipped, but so did the principal.
- I wonder, where is Central Falls going to find 74 teachers?
- Given the way the terminations were delivered, what teacher or prospective principal would apply to work in that district? Would you advise your son or daughter to apply for a teaching job in that district?
Our school was called by National Geographic Magazine “the most diverse school in America.” We had high poverty and high student mobility. Two-thirds of our students were second language learners (ELL). We didn’t have the highest test scores, but when we used a regression analysis comparing achievement on state exit exams to poverty in our twenty-six high school district, our school was the only outlier. We didn’t have the highest scores, but we were doing the best job with the students we had. I always said that I could take our entire staff and improve even the wealthiest school in the district, but the teachers from the wealthiest school wouldn’t last a day in our school.