The Central Falls Precedent

by Ryan on February 24, 2010

in Culture,Rhode Island,Uncategorized

I lived in Rhode Island for about 24 years.  I can say without hesitation that Central Falls is one of the worst square miles one could find outside of Detroit.  One doesn’t drive through it… you find ways to drive around it!  OK, that’s a little exaggeration (nothing in the developed world is nearly as bad as Detroit), but Central Falls has been a mess my whole life.

I was not, therefore, surprised to hear that the Superintendent Frances Gallo ordered the firing of 93 employees, including 74 teachers at the perennially failing Central Falls High School.  Gallo believed that the educational culture of the high school needed to change: among other things, the teachers were asked to spend more unpaid time face-to-face with the students.  As a teacher, myself, I’d be a little wary of chillin’ with Central Falls types unless I had to obey a mandate (that’s why I worked hard in college so I could teach in an affluent suburb!).  But if my job was on the line and I really cared about changing the school’s educational culture, I’d be receptive to new ideas like Gallo’s.

The Union, however, disagreed, so here we are.  I believe a precedent is being set here — if one cares about fixing the situation in failing school districts, one needs to accept that radical changes are needed.  I blame the Union in this case for the escalating situation (for the record I think teacher unions everywhere should throw measurably bad teachers publicly under the bus).

It’s not like the teachers were misbehaving, like the kind of lap-dancing teachers do in Canada!  Central Falls’ teachers have to deal with a demographic where a large percentage of students come from broken homes, stay out until 3am, are often involved in gangs, and are generally legal/illegal immigrants.  Every teacher has students like that, but few have to deal with them on a level like Central Falls.  It’s a real problem, which is why school-choice and parent-vouchers are so necessary in districts like Central Falls!  If the public school is failing, introduce real competition and let parents vote with their feet.  Until then, watch for more instances of mass firings like this one.

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