Teaching Profession

Hope, Caution Vie at R.I. High School

By The Associated Press — September 14, 2010 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Teachers at a Rhode Island school who were fired and ultimately rehired in a dispute that focused national debate over education reform have returned to their classrooms amid hopes that changes they agreed to will help improve student performance at their persistently troubled high school.

The changes at the 1,000-student Central Falls High School—where just 7 percent of 11th graders tested last year were proficient in mathematics—include a longer school day, more rigorous teacher evaluations, and flexible schedules to provide more classes for struggling students. Teachers are also required to participate in more days of professional development.

State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist acknowledged the obstacles facing students in Rhode Island’s smallest and poorest city. “They’re movable,” Ms. Gist said. “We can push past them, we can climb over them, we can climb under them.”

The firings in February came after the state identified the high school in this cramped city just a square mile in size as one of Rhode Island’s worst and ordered improvements. When reform talks between Ms. Gallo and the teachers’ union broke down, the entire staff was issued termination notices, one of four options outlined in federal guidelines for chronically failing schools.

Teachers and students protested the firings, though the plan was applauded by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. President Barack Obama, in a speech, singled out Central Falls as an example of accountability for poor performance. (“Mass-Firing Plan in R.I. Sparks Debate on Turnarounds,” March 10, 2010.)

The teachers got their jobs back in May after agreeing to terms they had previously resisted, though many remain apprehensive, said Jane Sessums, the president of the local teachers’ union, an American Federation of Teachers affiliate. Fewer than 10 decided not to return.

“Their job security, that trust factor, that’s really important in any teacher-administrator relationship,” Ms. Sessums said of the overall mood of the teachers. “I don’t know if they felt as if there was a lot of collaborating going forward up to this point.”

A version of this article appeared in the September 15, 2010 edition of Education Week as Hope, Caution Vie at R.I. High School

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
Teaching Live Online Discussion Seat at the Table: How Can We Help Students Feel Connected to School?
Get strategies for your struggles with student engagement. Bring questions for our expert panel. Help students recover the joy of learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Science Webinar
Real-World Problem Solving: How Invention Education Drives Student Learning
Hear from student inventors and K-12 teachers about how invention education enhances learning, opens minds, and preps students for the future.
Content provided by The Lemelson Foundation

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Stress, Burnout, Depression: Teachers and Principals Are Not Doing Well, New Data Confirm
They still love parts of their jobs—but feel anxiety and stress more than other working adults, a new study finds.
6 min read
Photo of teacher working at desk.
vgajic/Getty
Teaching Profession How Teachers Are Spending Their Summer Vacation
Swimming, hiking, and an occasional academic project are on the agenda.
1 min read
Lifeguards watch over children and their families as they enjoy the shallow end of the Woodson Family Aquatic Center on the opening day of the 2022 pool season Saturday, May 28, 2022 in Odessa, Texas.
Lifeguards watch over children and their families at the Woodson Family Aquatic Center as pool season opens in Odessa, Texas.
Eli Hartman/Odessa American via AP
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Can Educators Agree to Disagree Respectfully?
We must acknowledge that there are strong, defensible differences in perspectives about divisive topics, writes an educator.
1 min read
Illustration of an open laptop receiving an email.
iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession Q&A The First 5 Years in the Classroom Are Tough. This Teacher Has Ideas to Lessen the Burden
A middle school teacher talks about why educators need to share stories about their jobs—and find schools that reflect their values.
7 min read
Patrick Harris
Patrick Harris