Back to work at Central Falls High

Teachers will return to work at Central Falls High in Rhode Island in the fall under a deal with Superintendent Fran Gallo, who’d fired the entire staff of the low-performing  school in February.  Gallo called the teachers’ union’s bluff, writes Rick Hess.

 Gallo had asked Central Falls High’s teachers to agree to a series of school-improvement measures: you know, such nutso stuff as lengthening the school day, adding 90 minutes per week of common planning time, asking teachers to do a week of paid professional development at $30 per hour during the summer (the union wanted $90 per hour), and asking teachers to eat lunch with students once a week. The teachers rejected the proposals out of hand, triggering Gallo’s escalation.

Threatened with the mass lay-off — and knowing 800 applications have come in for the school’s 93 jobs — the union agreed to “Gallo’s initial requests, including two weeks (rather than one) of summer professional development at her preferred rate,” Hess writes.

Crucially, the agreement also stipulates that Gallo and the school’s new principal will have the authority to select an outside evaluator next fall. The evaluator will provide support and intervention where needed, and will identify teachers who need to be removed. Teachers will not be able to grieve the evaluation process, and fired teachers will have no bumping rights. In short, Gallo and the principal will have everything they need in order to identify weak teachers and get them out of the system.

It’s not clear how many teachers should be fired, Hess writes. While the school has struggled for many years — only half of students earn a diploma —  “we don’t know how much any given teacher is contributing to the school’s poor performance.”

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  1. I suspect they’ll get more results (improvment results) by not bringing back ANY of the fired teachers-there’s 800 applications for 93 jobs-certainly in such a broad pool, there’s no reason (much less need) to cut a deal with the group that’s already failed to deliver results, and so adamantly refused reasonable changes.

    If they want back in, let them re-apply and compete with the 800 some-odd candidates who WANT to teach.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    Having experienced lousy teachers–and having had my kids experience lousy teachers–the fact remains that the culture(s) of the students is hugely important and the wonderfulness of the teachers, if any, is largely powerless in the face of disfunctional cultures.
    One would hope that this system has a way of isolating teaching performance in the evaluation of results.

  3. So the teacher’s important and unimportant. Got it.

  4. Miller Smith says:

    If the teachers are bad, why not keep them all fired? Why let them come back?

  5. I’m sure some of the teachers are less than effective while some of them are absolutely rocking it in their classrooms. Not everyone is stellar, but there is no way that everyone there is harmful to student learning. My problem is that the Powers That Be (in the scope of this post at least) still seem unwilling to consider any of the other factors that are contributing to a lack of student success. I mean, let’s wake up and broaden our scope…the problem does NOT lie with ineffective teachers alone.

  6. cause hiring all new ones won’t really make a difference either, and then they’d have to train all of them. . .who would be their mentors?

    also. . .are they looking at the middle and elementary schools that are feeding this high school? i’m sure these kids were not proficient when they arrived in 9th grade. my guess is that some problems with student achievement can be traced back to earlier teachers/schools. i say this as a middle school teacher, whose incoming 6th graders haven’t learned to multiply and divide, or even add and subtract multi-digit numbers. you can forget 6th grade material until the basics are learned.naturally, it’s hard for the middle school to catch them up. i know we send students to 9th grade that aren’t prepared for high school. but we can’t retain them — that would be bad for their self-esteem. and it would make our numbers look bad. *sarcasm*

  7. As I wrote on my own blog at, there’s a lot less here than meets the eye.

  8. Mike McK says:


    Central Falls High School is in Central Falls, RI. It is a small city, but it is a city separate from but near Providence. Providence schools have their own problems without taking on Central Falls’ problems.

  9. If you read E.D. Hirsch you’ll see that HS will be a disaster if elementary and MS fail to impart robust background knowledge. I feel for those Central Falls teachers, and those who don’t are ignorant.

    We need a Core Knowledge curriculum in K-8–and strong school discipline –to solve our urban woes. I believe it’s as simple as that.

  10. Bill Eccleston says:

    Maia, the State of Rhode Island, acting through its Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education, has been running the Central Falls schools for 19 years. The Marx Brothers or the Three Stooges would have been a better executive choice, but, of course, they are all dead. So we are left with the Regents appointing the superintendent and the school board in Central Falls. The chairwoman of the school board, Anna Morales, is in fact one of the Regents. Now, Rhode Island being a “Progressive” education state, guess what math superintendent Gallo has instituted in the CF elementary schools? Math Investigations, of course! The reading program is even worse. They threw out a modern, reading-science approach and replaced it with a balanced literacy scheme that has, among other strategies, second graders doing “pretend reading” when they cannot understand the text. Not one bit of this side of the story has been reported. The journalists, in fact, haven’t even gotten the name of the high school correct. It’s “Central Falls High School: A University of Rhode Island Academy.” URI’s dopey progressivist interventions have completely escaped scrutiny. The idea that with the same incompetent management in place this school is going to renew itself is hogwash. It’s all political theater.

  11. Correction needed: The school in the news about mass firing of teachers is Central Falls HS in the city of Central Falls, RI. There is another different school in Providence, RI called Central HS.

    I suspect that the folks at Central HS have enough real problems of their own already without being tarred by the problems at Central Falls HS.

  12. Richard Aubrey says:

    Ben F.
    Clausewitz observed that, in war, all things are simple. The problem is, even the simplest thing is difficult.

  13. Cranberry says:

    According to the Providence Journal, the city of Central Falls is now in receivership.

  14. Mike Curtis says:

    After the battle is lost, fire the generals; not the soldier who did as ordered to do. It’s easier to replace ineffective leaders than it is to replace an ill led army.

  15. SuperSub says:

    Talk about students not being taught right in elementary school… a significant portion of my 8th graders can’t round numbers, whether if its to the tenth, ones, or tens places.\

  16. bill eccleston says:

    No,Dave, it’s “Central Falls High School: A University of Rhode Island Academy.” Call superintendent Gallo and ask her. Didn’t you get the point of my message? The media has reported nothing about the school except the Union-Management quarrel. For example, 18 administrators—18!—have cycled through the high school in the last 5 years. The school and the district has been in a state of management chaos for years and the media are uninterested in the story. They are uninterested in curriculum, they are uninterested in daily management of staff, students and schedule, they are uninterested in discipline, they are uninterested in the physical plant, lead peeling off the walls, etc. They are so uncritically enamored of superintendent Gallo that all the rest is being, in effect, covered up. Eighteen administrators in five years. Just ask yourself how, if this were a small, public company, how would Wall Street value its stock with an administrative history like that? The journalism on this story has stunk, period. And as for Central High School in Providence, Dave, the head football coach is my next door neighbor. I know what I’m talking about.