Just hours after the AFL-CIO's executive council voted unanimously on March 2 to condemn the mass firing of all Central Falls High School staff in Rhode Island, the Central Falls Teachers Union offered a comprehensive reform plan for turning around the high school, using some components of the district's last proposal, among other things.
The AFL-CIO resolution denounced the terminations as ineffective and counterproductive, and said the labor body was "profoundly disappointed" by recent comments by President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan condoning the mass firings. The resolution said these comments do not reflect the true situation in Central Falls, and ignore the teachers' commitment to working with school district leadership to transform the school.
AFT president Randi Weingarten, an AFL-CIO vice president, applauded the AFL-CIO's resolution. "Firing every employee to improve kids' education is a counterproductive, sledgehammer approach, when what's needed is a collaborative, comprehensive educational approach to give teachers and students the tools they need to succeed," she said.
In a good-faith effort to resolve the situation, the Central Fall Teachers Union released a transformation model proposal that includes those elements of the school district's proposal that utilize research-based programs with a track record of raising achievement levels for all students. Instead of focusing on work rules, the union sought to focus on programs that work.
The union's reform approach recommends:
- Implementing research-based high school reform programs like America's Choice and Diploma Plus;
- Increasing instructional time for students;
- Enhancing the support system for students;
- Increasing teaching quality by rigorously evaluating teachers and providing all teachers with opportunities for targeted teacher training; and
- Creating a collaborative and data-informed teaching and learning environment. [AFT press release]
March 2, 2010