Thursday, March 04, 2010

Rhode Island makes Obama capitulate to popular opinion

Why didn’t I think of this?

Last week the school board for Central Fall’s High School in Rhode Island said that enough was enough, and then off’d the entire staff of 93, which included 74 classroom teachers, plus reading specialists, guidance counselors, physical education teachers, the school psychologist, the principal and three assistant principals.  With only 7% of Juniors proficient in Math, and only half of the population graduating, the Board thought that starting over was the only recourse for a school with such low achievement.


Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan, who is now becoming a person that I loathe, applauded the move, saying the committee members were “showing courage and doing the right thing for kids.”  Then our President endorsed the measure as well.  

So, maybe I’m the idiot.  Maybe I’m the one not understanding the benefit of completely blasting out a group of teachers, some of which are probably fantastic.  Socio-economic conditions, number of English Language Learners, unsupportive parents, are you telling me that none of these things have an impact on student achievement?  Your telling me that because students refuse to do homework, stay up until 3 a.m. texting, and don’t value education that somehow every teacher was to blame.

Welcome to the current climate regarding teachers.  It was bad enough being told today that there is no more paper for printing once it is gone, printer cartridges once they run out, or bulbs for the projector (so much for bringing Ukiah into the next century), then I come home and watch the president slice and dice a moronic decision to destroy a school staff.  I get the idea of making a school more efficient, but totally nuking a school has shown to never work and ends up being a cheap political way to score points with parents that are often angry because teachers are tired of babysitting. 

I’m still waiting for someone to figure out that the best thing to do is hire a great principal and then let him stay on campus and do his damn job.  That way he can evaluate good teachers and prepare the bad ones to change or get the hell out.  This would have been a hell of a lot easier than firing everyone. 

Oh, and for those that are wondering, “Are we next"?  Eventually, everyone is going to be in Program Improvement and yes, the political pressure will be on teachers to be held responsible.  Remember, because of No Child Left Behind, student progress must continuously grow until it reaches 100% (which is supposed to happen in about 5 years).  That is completely unrealistic and will eventually put everyone in Program Improvement, and then teachers won’t have to worry about teaching anymore because the State will end up doing it for them. 

Of course, we need to work on getting the school out of Program Improvement with less resources as well, since the State of California has chosen to continue to cut education.  And since budgets kill vocational ed and electives, less students come to school and Average Daily Attendance goes down, which creates more budget issues and lower test scores.  Get the point?

So, uh, Mr. President?  When are you REALLY going to start to get serious about Education?

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