Weingarten Tours Troubled Central Falls High School

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AFT president Randi Weingarten toured Central Falls (R.I.) High School on Dec. 21, to see first-hand the climate and conditions at the school, given reports about students not receiving grades and the administration's belief that the transformation plan is working, while teachers believe it is not.

"It's clear that it's been a tough first semester and for the sake of the kids, we need a mid-course correction," Weingarten said at a news conference outside the school. She said that while the school was relatively quiet today, there were many signs the school environment is not conducive to teaching and learning. Weingarten was joined by Jane Sessums, president of the Central Falls Teachers Union, and Frank Flynn, president of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers.

Weingarten said she is asking Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee to use his good offices to convene a working group of teachers and union leaders, school and district leaders, parents and others to assess what's working and what's not "to put this school on track to help its kids."

Weingarten said she was disturbed by the school climate. "Teachers told me they are very fearful to voice their concerns about problems. This atmosphere must change," she said.

"Kids don't get educated with blame-gaming and finger-pointing," she said.

The AFT president said she's hoping a Chafee-mediated meeting can be convened as soon as possible to share information and develop and implement an intervention plan that addresses the problems so that CFHS is a place where parents want to send their kids and teachers want to teach.

"We're all in this together. For the sake of the kids, we have to work together in a respectful, productive manner," Weingarten said. "Everyone needs to roll up their sleeves and work collaboratively." [AFT press release]

December 21, 2010