Monday, May 17, 2010

Teachers, staff all rehired at Central Falls H.S.

Things have come full-circle in Central Falls, R.I. where 87 teachers, guidance counselors, librarians and other staffers, who were arbitrarily fired without due process, will now return to their jobs without having to reapply. More than 700 people had already applied for the positions.

The firings were pushed at first by an over-zealous State Commissioner Deborah Gist, and a near apoplectic local supt.,Fran Gallo, both bending over backwards [no pun intended] to please Arne Duncan's reform agenda Duncan, in turn, praised the mass firings as "courageous" and held up mass teacher firings as the new face of school reform as well as an implied threat to any union that wouldn't play ball on RTTT.

But the fired teachers got such overwhelming support from students and fellow teachers around the country, including thousands signing on-line petitions, that Gist may have been told to stand down and reopen negotiations. She was also facing court action that likely would have stopped the firings any way.  Instead of firing teachers, the school's principal was reassigned to another school, which is probably what should have been done in the first place. Other changes, according to WaPo, may include "a new evaluation system designed to inform teaching and learning, and targeted and embedded professional development." In other words, all things which could have been done originally without the crisis mentality and without threatening the very economic viability of the poor town of Central Falls and making its name synonymous with teacher bashing.

The Answer Sheet's Valerie Strauss (who always seems to make a lot of sense) says, Duncan & Obama should have kept quiet in the first place, on the firings.
What do you think would have happened if Obama and Duncan had not taken sides when the teachers were first fired, and instead had urged the opposing sides to work harder to reach a better solution? I think it is fair to assume that the negotiations would have reached success a lot sooner, sparing the Central Falls community a lot of grief.
If there is a humorous side to all this, it's watching the conservative think-tankers stumbling all over themselves trying to figure out whether or not the board vote to rehire all the teachers was a "victory" for the right-wing. AEI's Hess says it was. Fordham's Smarick says no. Both are wrong as usual.

More background on Central Falls firings.

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