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In a stunning reversal, The Central Falls, RI school district, in negotiations with the Central Falls teachers union, have decided to re-hire all 93 employees (including 87 teachers, staff and guidance counselors) for next year, without any of the employees having to re-apply.
This is part of the Transformational Reform model set forth by the Department of Education; decided upon by Fran Gallo, superintendent of the Central Falls School District, and the teacher's union back in February. This is the same model which the Central Falls Board of Trustees voted 5-2 to approve.
For a refresher, here's the Transformational Reform model, as spelled out by the DOE.
- Adding 25 minutes to the school day
- Providing tutoring on a rotating schedule before and after school
- Eating lunch with students once a week
- Submitting to more rigorous evaluations
- Attending weekly after-school planning sessions with other teachers
- Participating in two weeks of training in the summer
Also attached to that model is the stipulation that the entire faculty has to be fired, and only 50% of them can be hired back. Thanks to the agreement between the School District and teacher's union, that won't be the case.
This situation made national headlines not only because this was the first school to use the Transformational Reform model, but because President Obama brought the story to the stump. During a national address on education in March, he said the firings were an example of the need for accountability over student performance.
So if a school is struggling, we have to work with the principal and the teachers to find a solution. We've got to give them a chance to make meaningful improvements. But if a school continues to fail its students year after year after year, if it doesn't show any sign of improvement, then there's got to be a sense of accountability. And that's what happened in Rhode Island last week at a chronically troubled school, when just 7 percent of 11th-graders passed state math tests – 7 percent.