Central Falls High School in Rhode Island has become an unlikely source of national news headlines in the past few days, since the superintendent fired all the teachers. But, as AFT president Randi Weingarten notes in a message to AFT activists, the focus on superintendent Frances Gallo's mass firing misses a big part of the story: The teachers there know that more work must be done to improve their school, and they have dedicated themselves to helping their students achieve. But the superintendent's actions have put them in a terrible situation that has made it impossible to pursue a productive path—collaborating on proven reforms that benefit students.
"We are working closely with the Central Falls Teachers Union and the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals to get the Central Falls administration to return to negotiations and find a resolution to this crisis," Weingarten says.
In the meantime, the AFT is urging members to sign a petition calling on the Central Falls superintendent to do what is right—work with the teachers instead of scapegoating them, and seek real reforms that help students achieve.
Members from Rhode Island and around the country have been expressing their support for their colleagues in Central Falls, including via the AFT's Facebook page. "How can any logical person think that firing an entire staff is good for kids?" Callie asks. Says Julie, "I'm afraid we will see more and more of these kinds of things happening. It's a shame that hard-working teachers are such an easy target these days." NEA member Brock says that members of his union "are equally appalled at the actions of the administration in Central Falls. These selfish actions hurt the students and are a threat to organized labor everywhere."
More information is available online at www.CentralFallsKidsDeserveBetter.com.
February 26, 2010