Central Fails, um I Mean Falls

Wow, I cannot get enough information about Central Falls High School in Rhode Island.  The entire story shocked me. All fired?! The first thing that I thought was “good, fire bad teachers” then reality of the situation sunk in. Wow 93 people are now without jobs. All because a test says they are not doing their job. Media reports are praising this school system. As an educator I do not see praise.  These teachers are now jobless. Now new teachers will have to be hired and trained.  Where are they going to find these “perfect” teachers they are in search of, and who would want to apply for that job?

I just kept thinking of ways this situation could be different.  How instead of tearing down these teachers, better educators could come out of this group. This reminded me of a school in my district.  The school is Brighton school and is a k-8 school.  Brighton is not only the poorest school in the Jefferson county but at the time the on school-improvement longer than any other school in the district.  Instead of shutting it down they had a new plan. Betsy Rodgers, the 2003 national teacher of the year, came into the school as the curriculum coordinator.  They started training the teachers on best practices.  There were walk-thrus, professional development, team meetings, etc. The teachers who didn’t want to change left. There was a huge group of young, new, energetic teachers being hired and working with these students who had been called failures for so long!  The school finally made AYP and the students had pride in their school, the teachers had pride in their students.

I know Brighton’s success would not always be the norm, but its proof that there is other options. Options that work and not a mass firing!

I have had classes that no matter how hard I tried I could not reach, I know the fear of losing my job because of students. The mass firing of teachers cannot be the answer.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. EC says:

    I like the example you gave of the school that took action to turn itself around. While a major change such as that could surely be daunting to some, I also think it’s (potentially) exciting and inspiring. Why not get teachers psyched to be the best they can be?

    That said, I know what you mean about the occasional “impossible” class. I like to never say never, but sometimes it’s pretty tempting, as in, “They will never listen to me!”

    I teach AP and it’s a world of pressure akin to what I assume other teachers go through with the state-mandated standardized tests. I don’t want to personally be judged on my effectiveness (for a whole year!) based on one morning’s test–especially if I have to depend on kids who might have been attending a party the night before. And yet, I am judged on their results.

    Sigh.

    I am hoping the multitudes of observations I have this year will stack the deck for me–just in case.

    Timely post!

  2. Erin says:

    I teach in RI, not in Central Falls, and I appreciate the thoughtful tone of your blog.

    From where I sit, our commissioner is looking for any avenue to get a national pat on the back from Arne Duncan or President Obama, so that she stands to have a better chance at Race for the Top funds. (RI has a number of issues standing in its way, charter caps, no funding formula, limited union support etc.)

    I truly think this was done now and done so fast to get the reaction you’ve seen, kudos from the national politicians, while the educators need to collect unemployment.

    Again, thanks for your support.

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