A Clash of Realities in Central Falls
You’d think some higher-up planner in the teachers’ union would begin advising members that it’s time to back off for a while for the purpose of public-impression rehabilitation. Apart from the wholly inappropriate imagery of using a candle-light vigil for a union action, the particulars of the circumstances in Central Falls are absolutely certain to elicit a response of “are you kidding me” from any Rhode Islander not in the thrall (or payroll) of the union.
First there’s the performance of the high school (news report and Dept. of Ed. PDF):
- Only 4% of students proficient in math in 2008-2009, up from 3% the year before, with 75% “substantially below proficient.”
- Only 45% proficient in reading.
- Only 29% proficient in writing.
- Only 17% proficient in science.
- A 48% graduation rate.
- A 50% failure rate for the current school year.
Then there are the salaries:
The average teacher’s salary at the high school ranges between $72,000 and $78,000 a year, because most are at the district’s top step, Gallo said.
That’s without incorporating benefits and all of the other perks of being a public school teacher. Then there are the demands for doing what any professional should be expected to do when collectively performing so abysmally:
Gallo said she offered to pay teachers $30 an hour for two additional weeks of training in the summer. Gallo also said she would try to find grant money to pay teachers for 90 minutes a week of after-school planning time, also at $30 an hour.
But she says she has no extra money to pay for other changes she is pushing for, including lengthening the instructional day by 25 minutes, so teachers work 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. instead of 7:50 a.m. to 2:25 p.m. She wants teachers to formalize a rotating tutoring schedule, so a teacher is available to help students for an hour before or after school, and she wants teachers to have lunch with students one day a week.
“Right now, they have no duties,” Gallo said. “But I don’t want them to see lunch as a duty. I want them to establish true relationships with not a few students, but all students.” …
Union officials have been pushing for $90 per hour and want the district to pay for more of the additional responsibilities.
Then there is the transparent mealy-mouthedness from the union, with this on the one hand:
James Parisi, a field representative of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Allied Health Professionals, said that Gallo had asked teachers to work a longer school day, attend after-school training and set aside two weeks in the summer for professional development. Parisi said the union balked because the district wasn’t willing to pay teachers enough for the additional time and work.
And this on the other:
“We’ve been supportive of the transformational model, we think it’s the right path,” [Central Falls Teachers’ Union President Jane] Sessums said. “But we need more details. We’ve never been opposed to the additional time that is needed. Our concern is that we really get an opportunity to understand what is necessary.”
It’s time for those teachers who’ve retained a modicum of professional integrity to step forward and tell the union to back off. They’ve a responsibility to improve the school in which they work without proclaiming that poor performance should justify even more reward.