February 22nd, 2010
07:02 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Fire Teachers for Failing School?

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

At Central Falls High School in Rhode Island less than half the students gradate, only seven percent are proficient in math and almost all live in poverty. Last week, the entire faculty of the high school received letters recommending their termination. The letter to the 74 teachers, who each earn at least $72,000, was sent by the school's superintendent, Frances Gallo. The school district's Board of Trustees votes on Gallo's recommendation tomorrow.

The superintendent says the decision came after the teacher's union balked at six options to transform the low-performing high school.

Those recommendations include:

– a longer school day of seven hours
– agree to be evaluated by a third party
– meet 90 minutes per week to discuss education matters
– have lunch with students every once in awhile
– two weeks of paid professional development during the summer

According to local media reports, the union officials wanted to be paid more.

Do you think the teachers should be fired or is the superintendent over-reacting?

Tonight we'll debate the move with the head of the union and Steve Perry, our Education Contributor.

We're also looking into Pres. Obama's health care bill. After months of debate on Capitol Hill with different plans in the House and Senate, the White House has unveiled its own plan.

The White House says its blueprint would extend coverage to 31 million Americans and cost $950 billion over 10 years.

We'll show you what it does and doesn't have tonight on the program. We're also looking at all the wheeling and dealing in Washington and how lawmakers go after goodies to get what they want. It's part of our "Broken Government" series we'll bring you all this week on 360°.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (101 Responses)


    February 24, 2010 at 7:24 am |
  2. cj

    these teachers are paid really well for what they've been asked to do. the request were pretty reasonable: 7 hr work days, 1 of hr tutoring each week, etc. and now they want more money? they deserve to be fired.

    February 24, 2010 at 7:13 am |
  3. Bill

    Shame on the Supt. she took the easy road and covered herself. The teachers are dedicated professionals who work hard. The public perception of lazy or Bad Teachers is rubbish. Try teaching in a Ghetto school for five minutes and you will see the problem is Poverty, not the Teachers, they could Teach anywhere and have great results, with there kids. It is the poverty and what it does to people resulting in multiple problems that are not easy to over come. I have been there.

    Bill New York

    February 24, 2010 at 2:16 am |
  4. Beth Reinholt

    Fire Them! The average American makes for 12 months almost half of what these people are making for 9 months work. The average across the country is 6 people applying for each job. I'm sure they can be replaced. I wish our politicians in Michigan had the courage to oppose the teachers unions.

    February 24, 2010 at 1:51 am |
  5. Juana Hernandez

    the issue which was not made mention is that the underlying primary reason for the firing of 88 teachers is to replace them with new inexperience teachers that would accept a low salary. it is very sad that the primary reason for this radical change has nothing to do with the troubled students instead it is a political agenda to not have to invest in them the resources they so desperately need. These schools need to invest in experience teachers. The students problems are not the experience teachers!! The superintendent needs to do her homework and research the inherent complicated problems students have which interfere with their learning. The teacher blaming in this country should stop. Teachers should not be scapegoated, this blaming will not deal with the deep seated dysfunctions which plague the students daily. Schools need to not undermine teachers because it hurts the students it is servicing. Students need to feel secure in their educational environment and need to know that their teachers are respected and held in high regard. And most of the time the reason the student fails has very little to do with the school instead it is because of the myriad of dysfunction surrounding their daily lives.

    February 23, 2010 at 11:24 pm |
  6. Marianne Hart

    I'm appalled that these teachers make this kind of money! Here in Oregon the teachers on average make 45,000.00 a year maximum! Wow! But is it possible that the system has failed these students also? Let's rethink the No Child Left Behind Act. Also it is very difficult when students don't show up for school. Let's look into the culture of poverty. It's also very much a social issue.

    February 23, 2010 at 10:49 pm |
  7. Tom

    Fire their lazy ass,es. they do not deserve a salary of 75,000 dollars for 9 months of work. that would be 100,000 if they had to work all year like most of us. pure selfish pigs.

    February 23, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
  8. Liz

    Congratulations to the very wise Superintendent. Make no apologies! "It is what it is..." We were educated in NC and now live in S. FL. I can't believe how dumb our kids are everywhere now, and how dumbed down our schools are. Where is the American pride? We are some of the dumnest educated people in the world as a result of our public schools. There is NO EXCUSE for it and these teachers have been overpaid to continually strike with decreasing results in our students. Our kids can't speak proper English, and they don't even know what grammar is. Forget Math, Science and History. Our schools are babysitters now. The parents of the students are also products of our failing system. Wake up America.

    February 23, 2010 at 10:43 pm |
  9. meg

    Yes, there are some teachers who are not highly effective. I have experienced some and it is appalling.
    However, there are many who are pouring heart and soul into their students, and who are highly effective despite what data "shows."
    Some of you are commenting that if you fail at your job, you are terminated.
    Education is different.
    You simply cannot force a child to learn, nonetheless WANT to learn.
    I work at a poverty-stricken school. I am paid 34,000 a year and work far, far beyond the hours I am paid for. I waitress on the weekends to make extra money.I lay awake nights wondering how I can do better, how I can try to motivate these kids to learn.
    The hard fact is I have no control over the largest motivating factor in their lives-their FAMILY. I have students who are awaken all night by their 15 year old sister's screaming newborn. Kids who sleep on floors and have sore backs. Kids who never see their parents who work from 5PM to 3AM.
    Many are so busy trying to meet basic survival needs that they have little room in their developing brains to absorb academics.
    I am trying my hardest. I am succeeding with a few, and failing with a few.
    I cried and felt awful when only 7 of my 25 kids passed a writing assessment with a proficient score.
    Will someone blame me? Should I be fired? Am I not effective because test scores and 3rd parties say so?
    They may not be "proficient" but they have improved SO much under my guidance!
    I do think we should be held to very high standards. I do think we have one of the most important jobs in the world.
    I do think that those of us who pour our souls into this job are underpaid and under-appreciated by many.
    I love my job and will continue to try and make a difference.
    The question is: How do you determine an "effective" teacher?
    I am very limited in what I am allowed to teach and the time I am given to teach it.
    My schedule is pre-determined.
    Could it be a futile system?
    What proves a teacher effective?
    There are so many variables.
    Don't judge a man till you've walked two moons in his moccasins. And certainly not until you know all the facts.

    February 23, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  10. Maria H-Miami

    My opinion is that the best thing is to fire these teachers, bring in highly qualified professional teachers that have true knowledge/command of the subjects they are teaching, teachers who know the difference between singular and plural. If schools don’t straighten out the real world will be a rude awakening to these kids and their parents that they did not learn strong basic skills such as math, reading, writing and it will be harder for them to succeed in life.

    Obviously they won't be able to attend college, university or technical school. These kids will have to seek immediate work. They'll be disappointed when they realize the job of cashier, receptionist, sales rep, billing clerk, customer service rep, entry level clerk, shipping clerk, construction worker do require the use of math, reading, writing.

    I know it will upset people to read this but I truly believe that students not learning, not preparing them with a strong education is contributing to their future unemployment. Let's clean up our schools.

    February 23, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  11. Mahnaz /Los Angeles, CA

    I am so glad you talke about it. I know for fact (Pre-K State Funded school), which i worked for 10 years, still two old ladies teachers over 60 years old work there ,and one of them has Alzheimer's disease, she always ask the children where she left her coffee or her reading glasses or her lunch. Those two teachers have been on that job for the past 35 years, they do not want to retire and let the State hire new teachers because, they lose $300 a month if they retire now. The children do not learn anything from them, and put them to sleep and take afternoon nap for 2 hours a day. How much those teachers make?, more than $100,000 a year, and guess who is behind their bad behavior and rewarding them to stay, and can not touch "UNION"/

    February 23, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  12. CT

    I don't believe it is a matter of performance that has led to the Superintendent's recommendation. It appears to be a lack of willingness on the part of the teachers (by way of their union) to address it.

    What the teachers need to do is fire their union representation and start acting in good faith for the good of the students.

    February 23, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  13. James TerHark

    I just watched the interview with Steve Perry and Randi?? Pres Teachers assoc?? Typical endless support of teachers and teacher unions. Never the teachers fault, always the district, the parents, the poor children, etc, etc. In this case with such a poor performance by teachers and then demanding more money, they should all be fired. And not close the school, rather hire NEW teachers. Since this is a high poverty area, with parents of lower education and less likely to be involved or able to assist their kids, an educational program needs to be designed with this in mind. There is absolutely no excuse that 100% of these kids not to know basic math, reading and writing skills. A school with only 7% basic math skills, ITS THE FAULT OF THE TEACHERS AND NOTHING ELSE. I've been in the IT industry fro 34 years. The average pay in IT right now is about $72,000 a year. If you performed that poorly in our field you would be fired immediately, no severnece, in the street. Only because of teachers unions is unbelievable conduct like this allowed.

    February 23, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  14. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    These teachers wouldn't be hired to work in a nursery school, fire them. This is exactly what I call "stealing from your employer".

    February 23, 2010 at 11:08 am |
  15. Susie

    I am a teacher in a school of high poverty in Missouri. There is an element not mentioned. What about the administrators? Our principal does not let us teach, our superintendent and curriculum staff do not provide ideas or instruction how we can teach students who are homeless, hungry, neglected, and in most cases so angry that just getting them to get involved with learning is a monumental task. I spend most of my time keeping students from harming each other.

    That does not begin to address the issue of uninvolved parents with low or no expectations for their children.

    I came from an administrative position in the corporate world after my children were grown to teach because I wanted to make a difference. I work harder, more hours than I ever did as a corporate CFO. There are definitely lousy teachers who arrive and leave school when the kids do, but they are the minority in my district.

    If the school is failing, then the bosses are failing. They have not done their jobs of making sure each teacher individually has what they need to do the best job. Firing all teachers is ridiculous, being good administrators and getting rid of the bad and helping the good is what should be done.

    97% failure.....sounds like the superintendent, curriculum coaches, and principals should be the first to go. They are the ones who lead and evidently they are not performing.

    February 23, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  16. Murphy

    My 35 years in the classroom tells me the failure of the students has little to do with the teachers. We all learned from many incredibly mediocre and forgettable teachers. Foremost among the many reasons these kids are failing is the poverty of their families. Poverty is associated with the lack of education. These parents just do not have the skills to teach these kids how to to behave in a classroom. These kids aren't students. These kids don't possess academic behaviors that will facilitate their learning. Part of the solution is to teach and insist these kids learn the study skills their more affluent peers possess.

    February 23, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  17. Scott

    It's the parents not the teachers. Or, it's more likely to be the parent (singular). Not the teacher.

    February 23, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  18. MadraveN

    I was born and raised within 10 miles of Central Falls and lived in the local area for 32 years. Central Falls ought to thank God every day that these teachers show up at all..!!! Put the blame where it belongs, Squarely on the children and the parents. It's easy to sit back, hear half the story and judge these teachers. Someone needs to put an undercover camera in a class and record for a day. Show the public the tape, I can guarantee you, you will be thanking them just for showing up.

    February 23, 2010 at 9:30 am |
  19. jo

    There are many reasons for failing schools. From what I've seen politics plays a huge part – yes people play politics with the future of a child.
    I have seen bad teachers protected not only by unions but by school district officials. This places an unfair burden on teachers who will inherit these children in the next school year an also burns them out. Start with a strong courageous heroic school board and everything else will work itself out.

    February 23, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  20. Sonia

    FIRE the ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF at these FAILING SCHOOLS if you intend on blaming someone. FIRE the Superintendent, Frances Gallo, and the school board, these problems didn’t happen overnight. These problems will not be fixed overnight!

    The teachers are nothing without a strong supportive staff. Stop all the politics that have leaked from WASHINGTON to these same FAILING SCHOOLS. Allow teachers to TEACH for success in life and not to the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND TEST.

    Make every school the same…. Let’s walk together thru the failing schools and make sure the have the same resources as the BETTER schools….

    How many parents, of students in failing schools, actually care? Come to PTA meetings? Help with homework? Seen a report card this year?



    February 23, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  21. Phil Elmore

    Teachers are of varying skills and ability. It is easy and convenient to blame them because they are the most visible.

    About 20 years ago the largest school district in Florida had failing student problems in the inner city schools. To prove the point that better qualified teachers would solve the problem the school board
    executives transferred teachers with top records to the inner city by guaranteeing them a maximum of 15 students per class and incentive pay which became known as "combat" pay.

    Guess what, all of the inner city students continued to fail! Why? One of the teachers told me that there was a complete and total lack of parental support and involvement. These kids had one meal daily at school (free) and spent the rest of their time on the street. They were with their "aunt" at night.

    So I hope the school board executives will look hard to find the real problem rather than just point at the most convenient target, the teacher.

    Fla Phil

    February 23, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  22. matt

    This is ridiculous that some of you are calling for all of the teachers to be fired without knowing what is going on in there. Are there probably some poor teachers in the school yes. Just like in every work environment this occurs. But there are other problems with firing and closing a school. And other factors what make it so these schools fail.

    Number 1 is what the students and students parents value when it comes to education. I bet that the students that are proficient value their education and have the drive to learn. And because they have that drive they are able to succeed.

    Number 2- How safe is the school? How much time has to be spent on discipline because I know there is a correlation to school performance and discipline issues. So if these school administrators and personnel have to focus on discipline more then education then that is a major problem.

    3- The major problem with schools today are not the teachers that teach but more the people that enable the students and handcuff the teachers. I am not talking about parents, even though they can play the number 1 role in success. But I am talking about all the red tape someone has to go through to remove a disruptive student. For example I can imagine being able to learning a classroom with 40 kids where at least one kid in class dancing around, cursing, playing music from is ipod and telling off the teacher. Believe it or not this does happen. And all the happens is this student may get an office detention or with luck in school suspension. But within a day they are right back in the class room because schools are not able to remove these students.

    And that is just a regular educations students. Maybe the kid has ADD or is ED. Then he gets in no trouble and remains in the classroom because some lawyer from the ACLU with argue that it is a manifestation of his disibility.

    All I am saying is before jumping all over the teacher look at the whole situations.

    One last question, what happens if you close this school. Then these under performing students go to another school and hurt the education of those students because the teachers must slow there pace for intimidation. Why not focus and effort on fixing the school. And the idea of making teachers spend extra time, it sounds great but when it comes down to it many teacher spend extra time, but if the students are not taking advantage of it, it just ends up being a waste.

    February 23, 2010 at 8:38 am |
  23. rae

    As a former teacher in the Central Falls school district it is not the teachers who are "failing" the students, it is the administration. The turn around rate of administrators in the last five years is ridiculous. The task of taking on the problems of Central Falls is much larger than those more affluent communities. Leaving most administrators to bail before any type of reform has even begun. But yet, the administration seems to have more power than the people who have chosen to stick by these children day after day, week after week, year after year. This is a disgraceful attempt to go after the unions. Not an attempt to improve schools or the education of these children. If anyone believes in these students and their ability to achieve, it is the teachers of Central Falls. It is an insult to even believe that these educated and caring professionals don't already put in extra hours, not to mention give these students the clothes off their backs. It is the poorest of communities that become the battlegrounds for political agendas. In communities where parents know how to fight the fight and work the system the mention of a school being closed due to lack of funding or enrollment can miraculously stay open. This mass idea of firing teachers will slowly trickle into other poor communities. And in these communities where the teachers are the students' greatest advocate and support system the new solution to "reform",if left up to administration, will be firing all of the people who have supported them throughout their education.

    February 23, 2010 at 8:35 am |
  24. Arlinda

    You Don't understand, Ambrose, that other careers make those demands on time without all the perks and benefits of the teaching profession. When employers see a employees are falling behind on their work, they don't give them a raise and more perks, they give ultimatums. Shape up or ship out!!

    Parents get blamed if they do and blamed if they don't. Advocate for your child, work hard to give them extra opportunities and you are a "hover" parent. Leave the education to the teachers and you are "uninvolved". The vast majority of parents love their children and do the best they can with the resources available to them. Unfortunately, the resource known as the American public education system is failing dismally.

    Fire the teachers!

    February 23, 2010 at 6:53 am |
  25. Liz

    Keep in mind these techers are off all Summer, not to mention other Holidays and breaks. Wow, most working people don't even know what a 7 hour work day would be. How about an 81/2 hour day without a paid lunch. Lunch time could be rotated through all the teachers. It is hard for me to vote for school bonds that would raise teacher's pay. The area I live in, is largely teachers that grew up in this area are just happy to have a job close to their homes (do they care about the kids or just collecting a pay check???). I would vote for more pay for teachers, if they had to reapply for their positions after the pay raise. Open the positions up to teachers with more drive and proven accompishments to do a good job, not just collect a pay check. Sometimes you need to get rid of the dead weight.

    February 23, 2010 at 6:20 am |
  26. Ellie Kruszewski

    I once worked for a school system. I saw that most teachers went above and beyond the call of duty but there was those few teachers that just were "present" putting in their time and not doing their job. They need to be fired and replaced with effective teachers.

    Children are only in school 8 hrs a day that leaves another 8 hours for parents to help out. It must be a joint effort by all responsible adults in the childrens lives to make sure they succeed. Children themselves need to be expected to show up and participate fully in their education.

    February 23, 2010 at 6:06 am |
  27. Jennifer

    I am sorry....but when do we look to parents to do their jobs as parents? These teachers are educated (hence proper compensation) and the majority of them offer their blood, sweat and tears to do their jobs. How much reform can we be expected to do at the school level when it's the home and the community that need to do their part?
    From my understanding this is an area that has a significant economic hardship. My bet is most parents (probably a lot of them single parents) are too busy working for minimum wage (probably multiple jobs) and are unable to provide the kind of structure and supervision that kids need. Could these parents also be the product of this poor school system…ill equipped with the basic skills to succeed? Are we simply perpetuating this system that turns out one ill equipped kid after another?
    Meanwhile we expect our educators to be parents, role models, and everything in between (including teach) to 27 some odd kids every day….most of that school day (and school year) probably goes to simply trying to break through to these kids.
    It is the erosion of society, the consumer mentality that has America producing nothing but what can be consumed….at the cost of moral good, community involvement, and the ability to provide for our families with enough time to be parents. Don’t blame the teachers for want of better kids, blame the home life and the community that surrounds it. More pointedly blame the society and our economic structure that has lower and middle class families trapped in a system of trying to provide at the cost of living a healthy and balanced life.

    February 23, 2010 at 5:58 am |
  28. Benjamin

    I will not sit here and blame teachers but i can say it does have a big affect if teachers dont care why will the students, i personally went to two schools through my highschool years one being better than the other, my first school RHS went very well teachers asserted themselves and i felt that i learned very well and my gpa stayed decently high, my second school CHS completely different in my first year two of my teachers there had close to a 60% failure rate not sayin its all on the teacher but i was in those classes and i can tell you they didnt care about if we learned or not, heck during my exams everyone had the option if they just wanted to leave.......... thats not a good teacher, for years ive complained about this so i had to post when i seen this i truly feel if i would have stayed in my first school where teachers did care i would have excelled further than i did. Kids dont know whats best for them they need teachers who will teach not what seems cool at the moment. This coming from a young man at the age of 21

    February 23, 2010 at 5:51 am |
  29. ernestinestone

    I don't think the teachers should be fired--it is unfair and unconsciable to blame the teachers for a problem thats bigger they are and didn't just start in high school .The school superintendint seemed more intent on blaming the teachers than finding a real solution,first thing needs to be done is take out of the equasion the superintendant because other than playing the blame game and going all out in left field talking about issues that even vaguely does not address the issues-he does not stay on the subject at hand-he's out of touch with reality-maybe he needs to be TERMINATED. this is not a unique situation--the are areas of the country going through the exact same thing and it's being handled the exact same way with superintendants having floor and having all the say ,ter rifying teachers ,reeking havoc on their careers and way of life-- if they expect the m to do a good job they should give them the "tools" to work with--and what good will it do to eat lunch with a child once a week when his problem is , he is FAILING MATH-–again that superintendant is totally out of touc h and fast-talking and does not want be to wrong or listen to any one else's opinion-–the teachers know what the real problems are and they should be HEARD

    February 23, 2010 at 4:33 am |
  30. Jolo626

    When will good teachers ever realize that their union's will continue to support under performing and mediocre teachers for its own economic benefit. Unfortunately collective bargaining is required by law in most states and "collective" means you get the rotten apples being paid the same as the prize winning ones for a very different return on the investment.

    You need to check your facts, Ambrose. It seems that the teachers were offered $30 per hour for extra work and two weeks of professional development over the summer, but they pressed for $90 per hour. If you paid a teacher that much over a year they would be making over 113k. I know lawyers that don't bill at $90 per hour.

    You are correct however, in that culture is the big story. If you knew something about a well run school, you'd know that the culture is grown from a powerful staff and administration. The students will come and go, but it's the staff who stays far longer, sometimes 30+ years, and they set the tone.

    If Gallo is able to fire all of them, then she can hire the good ones back under the new contract agreement, and they will still have their precious collective bargaining rights. If that happens I bet the school triples the math scores in 3 years.

    February 23, 2010 at 4:25 am |
  31. Smadar Aviv

    All students deserve good engaging and caring teachers.

    It is time to pay attention to the basic statistical concept of Bell Shape Distribution.

    Expecting all students to preform up to same standards is insulting to those on the high and low end of the Bell shape.

    Teachers must connect with their students and encourage them to perform to the highest of their ability. Parent support is crucial for that as well.

    It is impossible to judge the specific situation in Central Falls because of the numerous number of variables that are effecting students success.

    It could be that the Superintendent is using this as a token to show compliance with RTTT.

    Parents and students must be held accountable. It may be that engaging families is where the process of education in many communities begin.

    Instead of scripting for teachers, focus on innovative ways to help families believe and trust the educational process.

    All over America, across all cultures colors and economic status, many kids are expected to do more then they can and they fall behind as they are frustrated and stressed.
    Teachers also are frustrated when they are measured only by their students academic performances, often completely out of their control.

    Teachers should be measured by how they engage, connect and educate their students to be good citizenship as well as prepare them to be productive people in this society.

    February 23, 2010 at 3:11 am |
  32. Bill M

    They make $76k with golden benefits and pension, are failing at their jobs, and are whining about spending time with their students over lunch? Boot them off their cozy "jobs" and put students, not teachers, first. About time.

    February 23, 2010 at 2:17 am |
  33. Francine

    "Zero tolerance for students" There should be zero tolerance for teachers who don't do the job they were hired to do.

    February 23, 2010 at 2:16 am |
  34. Francine

    Mr. Perry is absolutely right! Why should teachers be paid more when they aren't proficient on the job? If they were doctors, with a high failure rate, they would have been sued, fired and/or locked up already. It is criminal to not educate or under-educate children!

    Regardless of the levels of poverty around them, they have to be creative and stop making excuses about why they can't educate these kids, or find another job.

    February 23, 2010 at 2:10 am |
  35. Kamala Yeap

    Teaching is a noble profession that needs total dedication to the students, the institution and above all to oneself. I have been a lecturer/teacher for the last 29 years and have taught in a number of countries(Australia, China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia andSweden). In addition, I am and have been an administrator in insituitons of higher education .The students who have passed through my hands come from diversified background and culture. I have had the honor of teaching kids from rich and poor families. Teaching these students is not always the same. We as educators cannot use a standardized method to approach these students.

    The ONLY BEST method that I have learnt from my experience is to GET to the root problem - why the lesson is not getting to the students? why is there a default ? The only way one can do this, is to get to know your students, spend time - lunch hour, extra time, working lunch - any which way that is possible. Build a rapport with your students that they will trust you and are willing to share their difficulties. This is what a good teahcer is supposed to do. CARE FOR YOUR STUDENTS AND BE A PART OF THEIR PROGRESS.

    Measure your performance in terms how many of your students have done well, progressed and you can be proud of them and yourself. Remember your students reflect YOU. You may forget the students you have taught but the students will definitely remember you and the amount that you have contributed towards their growth and success

    My advice -
    1) To the school board - motivate your teachers not with money but
    in making them realize the noble profession that they have OPTED
    to enter need dedication. A miserable $30 is nothing very much
    that they should loose a job for.
    2) To the teachers - make your choice - either be the teacher that
    you should be or leave the profession. Don't be a disgrace to the
    profession.Be more student focused instead of being self focused.
    3) To the teacher's union - it is not mandatory for you as a union
    representing the teachers to always say that your members are
    right. If your teacher are fulfilling the general code of ethics of the
    profession then you will not be facing this dilemma. Correct the
    error and tell your members to have social responsibilites.

    The only question that I have for these teachers of Central Fall High School, RI, have you carried out your responsibilities as a teacher to your students? The very first day that you enter a class and introduce yourself as their teacher for a particular subject or class, you are entering into a binding contract with your students to not only complete the syllabus but to ensure that what you teach is comprehended by your students. If you can without any hesitation answer this question in the affirmative, then you would have done well and this problem that the school is facing will not be there. The teachers have the solution to the problem in their hands.

    Teaching is not a job that you take on when all other options have failed.

    February 23, 2010 at 2:02 am |
  36. Sandy

    What a hatchet job. The guy is more interested in screaming over anyone who disagrees with him, and Anderson sat there and let him go.

    When a basketball team loses a season, they fire the coach or the general manager, not the players. Four principals in five years. The school leadership is obviously a mess.

    When you hire a mechanic or a plumber or a doctor and expect them to work longer and harder, you expect to pay them more. Most teachers put in many more hours than they get paid for, but it is really galling to ask them to put in even more for free. Do you work for free?

    February 23, 2010 at 1:53 am |
  37. Mark

    Fire the kids and parents!

    February 23, 2010 at 1:39 am |
  38. Chris

    I'm a teacher in a solid Title 1 School (read: low family income). The biggest hurdle we teachers face is parent involvement. While I know that it generally is not the fault of the parents, their attention is on putting food on the table and a roof over everyone's head. The problem, as I see it, is that this becomes an excuse for not being involved and for not advocating a clear respect for an education in general. Sort of a "the system failed me so it will fail you, don't waste your time" kind of attitude. The students very clearly bring this to school when it is present in the home. This is about your kid and their experience, not yours. Do everything you can to get the best for them that you can.
    I work with teachers that suck, I shake my head and my fist at some of the ineptitude and uncaring that I see. However, taking a blanket approach to teacher removal not only undermines the belief that most (and I stress most) teachers are going out of there way to help everyone succeed, but it undermines the basic value of teachers and of an education itself. A school with scared teachers that are constantly replaced doesn't breed the systems of support that a student needs to succeed, let alone want to actively engage in their education. Condoning bad teaching is just as bad though.
    If we want the best and feel we need the best people available to teach our children we must take the time to not only financially, but emotionally, make this a rewarding career. The whole reason people can so easily be fired from there positions in other career fields is that there are 10 other people that want there job. It's not like that in education. Teachers are threatened with lawsuits, summary firings even when they meet expectations, and the expectation that every problem with learning is because we weren't holding up our end of the deal. Go after the teachers...and the parents...and the students that aren't holding up their side of the deal. We are all equal participants in this.

    The unions protect the worst in my experience and the unions know this. We all know this. BUT, when you are expected to not only teach content but how to use it, all sorts of people can and will be offended. As a teacher you will be held accountable for this offense... from all sides... at once. This is why the unions protect everyone rather than delving into the hot mess of picking sides. It sucks, but it really does make the best of a horrible situation for everyone, not just teachers.

    February 23, 2010 at 1:33 am |
  39. Mike

    As a high school teacher in California, I must say that after hearing about this story, I was shocked. There are multiple arguments to this scenario. First of all, I teach in a low socioeconomic status (SES)community where approximately 60% of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunches. I have witnessed firsthand that students in low SES communities do have the necessary skills to improve on state test scores. This is because our school has many gifted and talented educators that truly care about our students and put in the extra time without pay. On average, I work about 60 hours a week. I offer tutoring in the morning before school for struggling students, make myself available during my lunch, and sometimes come in on holidays and weekends. I didn't get into teaching for the money. Do I think there are some teachers that hide behind unions and seniority? Absolutely. There needs to be some sort of accountability from the teachers in terms of grades and how their students score on state tests. Teachers are evaluated, at least in my district, four times over the first two years, and then two times per year every other year. After tenure sets in, some teachers do become comfortable in their surroundings. Some teachers become better educators, whereas some teachers become stagnant.

    On the other hand, there is no accountability from the student perspective on state tests. I have witnessed students fill in their answer sheets creating drawings with the bubbles and have no real intent on trying their best on these tests. Where is the accountability from the students? If they are not proficient on these tests, will this affect their grades, GPA, or prevent them from graduating? The answer is no. If you want to take a look at the education system in this country, it needs to start with No Child Left Behind. Ask any educator across the country, and I guarantee that a significant majority of teachers do not like the federal law. It's a great idea, but it is very unrealistic. Outside factors are never figured into these test scores, and how can students truly be measured on five days worth of tests if there is no incentive for proficiency. Motivating students to do anything these days truly takes a good teacher.

    Finally, education begins at home. If parents are involved in their child's education, they tend to do better in school. We have to make strides to involve parents. Growing up, I knew that if I didn't have good grades, I would have to answer to my dad. But I grew up in a two parent home where both of my parents have higher education degrees. The number of students at my school whose parents do not have a high school education is quite high. That is no excuse, and I realize I grew up in a different era and a different state, but parents need to make education a priority in the home.

    In the end, I hope this triggers solid conversation about education reform in this country. We owe it to our students and our students owe it to the country to take advantage of the educational opportunities presented to them. Accountability is key, but it must come from both teachers and students.

    February 23, 2010 at 1:27 am |
  40. Bruce, the teacher's voice

    Using techniques of intimidation (e.g. firing all administrators and teachers at the school) is not the solution to this problem. Also, by adding an extra twenty five minutes to the school day is not going to be the solution either. Superintendent Gallo is simply confused about the solution and is jumping on the extra study time bandwagon. The teachers are the ones that really know what is going on in this situation. And time and time again, they are ignored and disrespected. Superintendents and politicians from coast to coast continue to think by expanding the school day or school year (i.e. to allow for extra study time); is going to make a huge contribution towards making a passing grade. This is simply not the case and it never will be. What the public fails to understand is that teachers are dealing with all sorts of problems inside the classroom. They fail to recognize that students are coming to class quite often unprepared (i.e. without school supplies), students are coming to class quite often tired (i.e. attempting to sleep during instructional time), and students are coming to class quite often with the intent to cause classroom disruptions (e.g. texting on their cell phones under the desk, attempting to listen to their ipods, ridiculing their classmates, using profanity in class and saying inappropriate things to the teacher, etc.). The public does not want to acknowledge these problems that teachers are experiencing inside the classrooms. They just want to put all the blame on teachers and ignore the horrible things that students are doing inside these schools. However, if students would simply allow teachers to teach the lessons they work so very hard to prepare, learning would take place and a passing grade would often be the result. It saddens me that superintendents and politicians ignore these issues and refuse to find a solution to these problems. They simply think adding some extra time for studying and occasionally sitting with students at lunch (i.e. to act as security guards because lunch rooms are often used by students to organize fights) is the solution. Yes I admit, it sounds good, but it will never be a solution. What the public does not realize is that those students who are failing (i.e. the ones that are causing all the trouble) will never show up to the tutoring sessions in the first place. Most of them do not have any interest in passing a class and getting a good education. And the teachers and administrators in the schools know that these extra tutoring sessions are simply a waist of everyone's time. I know this sounds harsh, but it is simply the truth. And if you do not believe me or you have a problem with what I am saying, try it for yourself. Try teaching a math, science, or English class in one of these failing schools and see how long you last. Superintendent Gallo would not last a week teaching a class at Central Falls High . However, it is easy for her to pass judgment and resort to firing everyone in the school. It is easy to sit on the outside and judge teachers and administrators. Until the public wakes up and are willing to listen to teacher’s concerns about what they are experiencing inside their classrooms, suggestions such as twenty five minute tutoring sessions (i.e. after school and/or during the school day) will never work and be accepted by teachers.

    February 23, 2010 at 12:56 am |
  41. kurt kerns

    Every time I hear our teachers taking the blame it makes me think about how our returning vets were spit on back in the seventies. Boy have we grown! I am waiting for our teachers to be blamed for hiding Ben L next. If only our parents and grandparents would assume their responsibility in helping to build THEIR child's Learning Foundation during the years of 3-12. but those good old days are long gone. I wonder how the pioneer families and the slave families who cared about education did it?

    February 23, 2010 at 12:56 am |
  42. Christie

    I have just checked the site for Central Falls High School. There isn't a lot of detail, but there does appear to be a very large special education department and a rather large ESL department. Those particular test scores DO play a part in the overall results of the school as a whole, which further justifies my tendency to lean toward the side of the teachers.

    February 23, 2010 at 12:18 am |
  43. GF, Los Angeles

    In a poverty stricken school, I'm not surprised by the low test scores and low percentage of students graduating. The Los Angeles school district has the same problem. There is about a 48% drop out rate. The public schools are predominantly minority. Because of poverty and language barriers it's brought a drastic decline in the system. Students who are English speakers are held back by non-speakers – virtual dumbing down of an entire school system. I agree with the other posters lack of parental involvement is huge problem.

    February 23, 2010 at 12:08 am |
  44. Christie

    There are far too many contributing factors to be considered here – for individuals to shout, "Fire them," it's obvious these people know nothing about the education system. Just as careers, businesses, jobs, families, individuals have been hit with the failing economy, the education system has been one of the hardest hit. You can't just place a teacher in a classroom (especially high school) and expect them to turn around problems which are an accumulation of the students' entire education career. Yes, teachers should be accountable, AS SHOULD THE ADMINISTRATION! I'd like to know the track record of that superintendent. Students who have reached the high school level and are "struggling" haven't begun struggling overnight. This is an accumulated struggle which most likely began in the very early years of the child's education....very likely there isn't a lot of home / parental support – finances play an integral part; low socio economic zones, for the most part, produce lower test scores, fewer graduates, much fewer college attendees, etc. This is not a zing at the kids or the parents / guardians – it's a fact. The MOST KNOWLEDGEABLE teacher can do only so much – she MUST have the support of the administration, the board, the superintendent, and most of all the home.....and, if there are no finances to back up the "support," that's just another strike against the educational cause. I don't think we have all the facts in this case – I don't think either person who appeared on AC360 had all the facts....sounds like BOTH parties need to back up and come to some sort of agreement as to what's best to the students involved...then hope for the support of the community.

    February 23, 2010 at 12:08 am |
  45. Thomas

    Dear Ambrose,

    Without extra pay – are you kidding me? The average pay is $72k/yr for nine months of work. These jobs also include cushy benefits and pensions. These teachers are already drastically overpaid.

    Tell the teachers they are welcome to move to the private sector where they will be expected to (1) work until 7pm, not 3pm (it's called casual overtime); (2) work nights and weekends when projects require extra hours (and they frequently do); (3) work all year long, with 2-3 weeks of vacation; (4) fund their own retirement; (5) retire at 65-70, not 55; (6) experience the joys of reduced job security; (7) accept a pay cut to put their salaries in line with median earnings for degree holders; (8) be evaluated by increasingly stringent performance metrics; and finally (9) pay the salaries, pensions, and health benefits of a bunch of whiny, overpaid, coddled public servants who execute their job poorly.

    The fact that these teachers would not even put in a bit of extra effort to improve student performance is just sad. Teachers already work less than most of us (and we pay your salaries, by the way) and they won't meet for 90 minutes a week? Don't feed me the "but teachers have to grade papers!" line. 40 hour work weeks are an anachronism; schools already let out between 3-4pm, so you can stay until 6pm every day grading papers and still easily get home before the rest of us.

    Give me a break. These salaries need to be cut in half - immediately. They also need to have some type of performance metrics with termination resulting from failure to meet those metrics. That's how the real world works.

    February 23, 2010 at 12:08 am |
  46. Piameng

    The Supt. reaction is way over board. You cannot fire almost entire staff because of management's failure. As suggested above a whole new stregies must be implemented. It is never too late.
    However theTeachers must also take some blame

    February 23, 2010 at 12:04 am |
  47. Shannon

    As a teacher myself I feel these teachers have probably been given many opportunities to improve. They have failed and should be fired. If they are unable to help these students, then better qualified teachers should be brought in. I have sat down and ate lunch with my students. The other teachers look at me like I am crazy but the students enjoy it. These teacher are being paid at least $70,000 a year. They can afford to give more "free" time. I get paid $23,000 a year and I offer to eat lunch with my students and help them after school. I am also a parent. My child spends more time with their teacher than they do with me. These are teenagers and parents can only do so much to help them and make sure they are going to school. Parents have full time job as well. Teenagers should not need to be babysat. They will become adults in just a few years. I bet these teachers are not trying everything to help these students learn the material. If their jobs were at risk they would work harder. It should not be so hard to fire bad teachers.

    February 23, 2010 at 12:02 am |
  48. Support superintendent Gallo

    Superintendent Frances Gallo deserves support for taking a position that attempts to address the student proficiency needs ahead of teacher’s greed. Often school administration and board are benevolent to the teachers union making them incapable of taking a stand for the students benefit. Teacher unions are the most significant obstacle to meaningful education reform. Their overriding objective is gaining more pay, better benefits, better working conditions, and less accountability for their performance. Teacher union in negotiations typically start off by claiming their positions are for the betterment of the children but in reality only for teachers betterment above all other need and considerations. Teacher union members need to wake up to reality before enough of society becomes fed up with their greedy winning and decide that taxpayer funded school choice should be an option for all.

    February 23, 2010 at 12:00 am |
  49. Genevieve

    I think the teachers of the failing HS should be reassigned to a less tough environment & get those dedicated, not burned out teachers, into this school. Personally, I believe teachers of such tough schools should be rotated every 3 years at least because it does take a toll on the human soul to watch children struggling with NO support at home.

    February 23, 2010 at 12:00 am |
  50. stew

    Someone shoud check how much the Super is paid, 6 numbers, but the teacher is the problem. The students have to Want to learn. Remember "You can lead a horse to water but you can not Make them Drink ".

    February 22, 2010 at 11:55 pm |
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