February 24, 2010
AFT Media Affairs
Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers
On Teacher Firings in Central Falls, R.I.
WASHINGTON—Everyone involved, including teachers, has a responsibility to improve the quality of education at Central Falls High School. We are surprised that Superintendent Frances Gallo, who wants to fire every school employee, has not accepted any responsibility herself, especially since she has been at the helm for three years. We also are disappointed that Gallo and the state education commissioner have rejected my overtures to meet and discuss what is best for the students of Central Falls and also have said no to former U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chaffee’s proposal for mediation. It is simply wrong to say no to kids and to parents who want to improve their children’s school.
Some positive steps toward improvement had been made already, though they seem to have been lost in the rush to make judgments and cast blame. Over the past two years, there have been gains, including reading scores that have risen by 21 percent. Central Falls High School faces tremendous academic and economic challenges, but firing all of the teachers is a failed approach and will not result in the kinds of changes necessary to improve instruction and learning.
We are disappointed that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan didn’t get all the facts—or even speak with teachers—before weighing in on the mass firing at Central Falls High School.
Although we are troubled that so much of the focus has been on blaming teachers, we remain willing to work in partnership with anyone who, in good faith, wants to ensure that students at Central Falls High School have what they need to succeed.
# # # #
The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.