Friday, June 17, 2011

Teacher bashing 'reform' has left Central Falls High School in chaos

Superindent Gallo blames teachers for her mess

Central Halls High School is Rhode Island was the opening salvo in corporate reformers' current war on public schools and on teachers. The mass firing of teachers and service staff was hailed as "courageous" by Obama/Duncan. The school and the city (the smallest and most economicaly depressed in R.I.) was thrown into chaos.

Looking back a year later, NPR reports:

The debacle at Central Falls High has gotten national attention because President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have publicly sided with administrators arguing that teachers must be held accountable for students' dismal test scores. Last year, only 7 percent of students tested at grade level in math, 24 percent in reading. This year's test results could be worse. Why? "Because of our low expectations in the classroom — meaning teachers,"  says Supt. Gallo, the administrator who carried out the firings.

Central Falls High has become a cautionary tale about the complexities of school reform and whether the federal government should be dictating what those reforms should be.


  1. The debacle at CFHS has not only been bad for the school. It has also killed any chance for economic recovery here in Central Falls and has had a damaging effect on the economy of the whole state as well. How can the president think that firing dozens of teachers, custodians, food service employees, etc. is good for the economy?

  2. The RI media, bizarrely, are totally in the tank for the state Department of Education officials who run the Central Falls system. The State of Rhode Island has been running the Central Falls system for exactly twenty years, and they have, over the course of the past two superintendencies, flipped it over and driven it straight into the ground. But that story is not being reported. Example: you cite Gallo on this year's test scores which were worse than last years. The unreported story is the complete screw-up of the testing process by the "Co-Principal" directly in charge of the testing process---from not having enough pencils on the day of the test to gross failure to track attendance and ensure the later testing of those who were absent. This is hardly the only simple management process screwed up by this individual this year. But the big point is that this screw-up was not an aberration, but normal Keystone Cop style operating procedure in this school. The darker question is: why isn't the media reporting this? The list of screw-ups in the most mundane of school management tasks at this school is extraordinary and pervasive in every single aspect of the operation. That problem begins with Gallo and her enablers at the RI Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education and, most importantly, Deborah Gist, the RI Commissioner of Education who so far, like Richard Nixon, "stonewalls" any serious inquiry by the lower officials of her own department who are very well aware of the score. Isn't there---anywhere in the country---just one ambitious young journalist who wants to make his or her career by uncovering these stories?


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