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.”