The plan to fire all teachers and staff at Central Falls High in Rhode Island is off, it appears. The day after President Obama backed the firings, the union blinked, proposing a reform plan similar to what the superintendent wanted in the first place. A compromise is in the works.
“I am pleased to reassure the union their place in the planning process,” Central Falls Superintendent Frances Gallo said in a statement. She said she welcomes union input in developing “a dynamic plan to dramatically improve student achievement” at Central Falls High School.
The union now will accept “a longer school day, as well as more rigorous evaluations and training, among other steps.”
Will that help? Rhode Island has been trying to improve the school for many years to no avail.
“There just is very little evidence in terms of what works in quickly turning around a persistently low-performing school,” said Grover “Russ” Whitehurst, a Brookings Institution scholar who oversaw education research under President George W. Bush.
Flypaper, which has lots of links, thinks the students will be no better off and perhaps worse.
When a school is as dysfunctional as Central Falls High, it’s not just the teachers. It’s a succession of ineffective principals, faddish and incoherent curricula, poor support from parents and a lot more. A bad school drags down average teachers and drives out the most ambitious. What this school needs is an exceptionally good principal — competent is not good enough — with the authority to replace the least-effective tenured teachers. Central Falls might get a strong leader, but is unlikely to let the new principal fire the teachers who flunk those “rigorous evaluations.”