Firing of Central Falls, R.I., Teachers ‘Illegal, Unjust, Disgraceful’ but
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan “applauded” state and local education officials for “showing courage and doing the right thing for kids.”
In the middle of the worst jobs crisis since the Great Depression, more than 90 dedicated professional educators find themselves put out into the street. On Feb. 23, the Central Falls, R.I., school trustees fired the entire teaching staff of Central Falls High School, supposedly because of declining test scores at the school, which is located in Rhode Island’s smallest and poorest city.
In all, 93 persons were put in the street—74 classroom teachers, plus reading specialists, guidance counselors, physical education teachers, the school psychologist, the principal and three assistant principals. Negotiations over ways to improve the school between teachers and the school superintendent broke down when school officials insisted that teachers add new duties, some without any extra pay at all.
In a rally before the trustees meeting, some 500 union members and community supporters called on the board to reconsider its decision. Rhode Island AFL-CIO President George Nee told the crowd:
This is immoral, illegal, unjust, irresponsible, disgraceful and disrespectful. What is happening here tonight is the wrong thing and we’re not going to put up with it.