You're Fired! Taking on the Teachers' Union

See if you can pass this test:

  • If you took a test and got 52% of the questions right, would you expect to get a passing grade?
  • If you only got your job done half of the time. would you still have a job?
  • If your boss then called you in to her office and said you either need to improve or find a new line of work, would you feel entitled to ask for a raise?

If you answered “NO” to each of the above questions, you are probably like most Americans who don’t believe that failure should be perpetuated, let alone rewarded. 

Unfortunately, in Rhode Island, the teachers and their union at Central Falls High School don’t agree.  As a result, they are being fired.

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has approved a school district’s plan to fire all its teachers.

All 88 teachers at Central Falls High School are expected to receive their pink slips on Tuesday, reports CBS affiliate WPRI in Providence.

Central Falls, Rhode Island has long been among the state’s most troubled school districts – 90 percent of the students live in poverty, reports CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod. Many struggle with English in this immigrant community – and that’s just for starters.

“We lose 52 percent of our students between 9th grade and the 12th grade,” Gallo told Axelrod. “They don’t graduate.”

Central Falls Superintendent Fran Gallo has proposed laying off all teachers at the school as part of a “turnaround” model for the school. That high school and five other schools in Providence have been identified by the state as chronically low-performing and must make major changes to avoid being closed.

The turnaround model requires a new principal and governance structure and allows no more than half the teachers to be rehired.

The teachers’ union says it wants more pay for the additional work, WPRI reports. Teachers, along with their supporters, held a rally on Tuesday to protest the decision.

UPDATE:  U.S. Secretary of Education Applauds the Teacher Firings

The U.S. Secretary of Education is applauding the vote to fire all the teachers at the high school in Central Falls because it is one of the worst performing schools in the state.

“This is hard work and these are tough decisions, but students only have one chance for an education,” Duncan said in Wednesday’s edition of The Providence Journal, “and when schools continue to struggle we have a collective obligation to take action.”

While there are probaby more factors than just bad teachers affecting the students’ poor performance, for an uncooperative teachers’ union to demand more pay with such an abysmal record is wholly unrealistic. The teachers and their union have failed.

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“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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