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02/24/2010 09:43 PM ID: 83062 Permalink   

Failing High School Threatens to Fire All Teachers


When Central Falls Senior High School in Rhode Island was identified as one of the poorest performing schools in the state, Superintendent Frances Gallo proposed longer school days, summer teacher training, and mandatory tutoring by staff.

The teachers´ union rejected the plan, based on the low wage increases. While they asked for an additional $90 per extra hour of work, the school board offered one third of that in compensation.

Due to the rejection of this plan by the teachers´ union, the superintendent and board of trustees have decided on a federal education plan that calls for the firing of all teachers in the school and the rehiring back of no more than half.

    WebReporter: Zyste Show Calling Card      
ASSESS this news: BLOCK this news. Reason:
i´m so sick of all these crap teachers in schools. When I was in highschool maybe 30% of my teachers actually cared if I even passed the class. Of course I was an A/B student, but that´s not the point.
  by: m.i.a.elite     02/24/2010 10:47 PM     
  I´m sorry to hear that  
when I was in school, I saw every indication that the teachers cared about us getting a proper education. Times change but it seems not for the better. And that is with most things. How low can we degenerate before society becomes a lethargic pool of ooze?
  by: John E Angel     02/24/2010 11:02 PM     
yah, when i was in H.S./University, even though i did not like all teachers they all seemed to care if we/me learned or understood the subjects.

this is about to happen to some schools here in WA state as well (just heard it on the news).
  by: snowman47   02/24/2010 11:23 PM     
  if they suck, fire them  
I´m in upper admin in an educational institution and often face the problem of having teachers that don´t care about how many of their students pass or fail and don´t care about their performance.
I´m implementing a variable pay plan and incentive plan in my schools so that the hard working teachers get paid more than the slackers thus motivating and encouraging the lazy teachers to improve their teaching. Still, you can´t force a teacher to care about his/her students and if it is obvious the teacher doesn´t care, replace him/her as quickly as possible with someone that really does care. Sometimes it is the older teachers who are the most jaded and could care less about the students.
In my first job as school principal, none of the teachers cared about their classes or students and after I threatened to fire all of them, most of them got their acts together. Those that didn´t were fired.
I´m glad we don´t have anything like a teacher´s union here. From my experience, unions create laziness. (not looking to get into a debate about unions here)
  by: shaohu     02/25/2010 03:48 AM     
How do you get bored kids to focus on useless crap they don´t care about?

Answer: Longer school days of course!
  by: koenig32   02/25/2010 05:56 AM     
  Well, I´m about to become a teacher  
... and I hope to be one of the good ones. They´re sorely needed.
  by: Ben_Reilly     02/25/2010 06:24 AM     
That´s the problem. A lot of administrators seem to think that more time is always the solution. I´ve been teaching for 6 years and I can say the best way to get students involved is interaction, not forcing them to be in class more often. State exams and curricula never cover a significant amount of the material actually taught. You can cut back the material and just be more thorough on the key points. More time is best suited in schools with already high achieving students where your goal is to expand knowledge beyond the basics.

In the case of this school, they have a large Hispanic population(65%) in a poor district, which probably means there´s a significant language barrier. But I´ll bet most requests for additional para-professionals to work with and translate for ELL(English Language Learner) students has been shot down repeatedly. Making kids who don´t understand the teacher spend more time with the teacher won´t do anything productive.
  by: Zyste     02/25/2010 07:49 AM     
My question would then be when are the Superintendant and the board trustees are going to cut their pay(in the City public school here the Superintendant gets a 6 figure salary and most the teachers make about $34,000 average a year. They keep trying to pass millages here for *needed repairs* and this is after they have not been responsible with their spending of hell the last 20-25 years?The millages mysteriously do not make it to the areas we are told they are for, so we have decided to vote down ANY increases they ask for.

The state keeps claiming that the money from the Lottery system is extra money that goes to our states schools, the only problem is they state then takes the money that is set aside for education and take out the same amount that the lottery brings in and puts it into the general fund. Maybe if they did what they promised instead of lying like they always do we would not only have enough funding that the school needs, we would have extra that would allow us to fix up a few things each year.

Ben- Really? You are going to go into education? That is so cool!

I know there are some bad teachers and yes there should be a way to fire those who have become either lazy or burned out, I also don´t think the teachers should be the fallguy every time.My girls went to a magnent/charter school for 9 yeahrs(oldest) and 4 years (youngest). I refused to put them in the city high schools here because of how corrupt the school board is.

When we keep hearing about how tough it is and the cuts that we will need to make, I will be demanding that they cut their own pay to help solve the buget crisis and do not force the people who have been already feeling the pinch and learn to budget and stay withing in,
  by: TaraB     02/25/2010 08:29 AM     
  reply to comments  
@tarab- Superintendents get 6 figures? Wow...I´m in charge of 4 large schools and soon I´ll be getting a raise to $1,500 a month. I´m not in it for the money though, so no biggie for me.

@ben- that´s great! Teaching can be a very rewarding job (and a very draining job at times) but I never regret going into education as my career...hopefully you won´t either. Will you be in a state school or private?

@zyste- I think for schools like this one the govt should make them bilingual schools. Of course the govt would never give the kind of money needed because unfortunately education isn´t a priority.
  by: shaohu     02/25/2010 09:37 AM     
Yep, and in this shitty town on top of that. I wouldn´t mind if it was someone who was doing a good job either. Since he has taken the job the schools are actually worse than before. Last year a man walked into the high school, went into the girls bathroom and was caught raping the girl. Thankfully he had penetrated yet, but other things went on prior to them finding her. So much for over a $500,000 of security measures when the damn metal detector didn´t go off when he came in, no guards around, the doors to the outside weren´t even locked. The school itself didn´t fire, suspend or do anything to those in charge.

One school was supposedly patched and roofed where needed and funny enough the same exact leaks plus a few new ones happened and amazing as it is the person who was hired from OUT of town couldn´t be located.

Drivers Ed was taken away to save costs, even though parents did pay a reasonable fee. Now you have to go to a private instructor, you can not teach them yourselves of course and the private instructor is 5 times what the school charged.

The Sports that are not Football, basketball or baseball has had to face cuts and I believe it was Tennis they stopped or Golf. They wanted to cut the music program even though it is one of the best in the state, so the JV football wouldn´t be cancelled of course.

That is just a few things and I don´t dare get started on textbooks being outdated even after grants were given for them, computers are decent, but needs upgrades of course. Home Ec doesn´t exist as it once did either. That is just a very small sample of reasons I refuse to send my kids there.
  by: TaraB     02/25/2010 10:13 AM     
  Unions suck.  
Teachers should not be forced into unions that don´t really represent their best interest.

American colleges let too many nigh-illiterate, shallow, boring students graduate... so glad I am teaching in international schools. More respect, benefits, and much more interesting that being stuck in the USA all the time.
  by: theironboard     02/25/2010 11:56 AM     
  Perhaps the administrators of this  
school system should look into something a bit less drastic and more effective first. Of course, that would require an examination of their actions as well, so it´s not really likely to happen.

Here´s an interesting example of what can happen when administrators act responsibly...

  by: bbeljefe     02/25/2010 02:54 PM     
  Thanks Tara, shaohu  
The newspaper industry has been slowly breaking my heart over the past 10 years as management cuts out so much of why we used to buy newspapers. I figured that I´d take the skills I first learned before reporters became viewed by management as an almost intolerable expense and put them to better use.
  by: Ben_Reilly     02/25/2010 05:03 PM     
A school in a poor minority area with a lot of students who don´t speak English as a first language isn´t going to do well - not a big surprise. There are underlying issues that are going to drag performance down even with a pretty good standard of teacher.

Contrary to popular belief teachers do not knock off at 3 or 3:30. Student work doesn´t grade itself and lesson prep takes a long time. Ben, if you haven´t learnt this already you soon will. So when a teacher is asked to work a longer school day they get hit with the double shot of having to spend more time at work and more time preparing lessons. If you want to throw mandatory tutoring on top of that... well, I guess teachers might get to sleep on weekends. If they want teachers to train in summer then they lose valuable prep time which means that all of their lessons have to be prepared on the fly during the term - teachers who take pride in their work haven´t slept since Christmas and even then it was only a cat nap. If you´re going to demand what little remains of the teachers´ life don´t be surprised if they want to be compensated properly. Realistically the only surprise the school board should have gotten from the teacher´s response is whether they were shown one finger or two.

So, instead of taking hard decisions like fighting for more funding for specialised support staff and lobbying for programs to improve the lot of the community they´re just going put half the teachers out of a job regardless of whether they´re any good or not. I guess the hard slog doesn´t produce instant results for your resume. In another year with half the teachers new to the school and probably the area we´ll have the same thing happen and we´ll ante up and play again.

Shaohu, I´d be very interested to see how you´re planning to assess performance. I´ve talked to a number of head teachers about this and they all essentially told me that there are too many variables. Most of them agreed that they only way it could potentially be done would be to have a detailed knowledge of the class and put someone in to physically observe. Even then, unless you´re set up to watch unobserved, you risk not getting a clear picture due to the presence of an observer modifying behaviour. One head teacher gave me an interesting example case: A young part time teacher who only taught one class looked fairly incompetent. The students were doing relatively well in other classes and only average or less in her class. It turned out that her lesson content and delivery were fine - the class wasn´t giving her any respect because of her ethnicity and because she was female. Without some underlying cultural knowledge of the culture, observing the class for a number of days, and some other digging a perfectly good teacher could have been written off.

On an ideological note, is it a requirement that teachers care about how well their students do? Is it even healthy to tie a teacher´s ego and/or job performance given that they are often the ones who have to assess the students? At the end of the day caring is nice but we´re hiring teachers, not parents.

Finally, Zyste, nice first summary. I hope to see more from you in the future.

(for the record I´m married to a teacher)
  by: ixuzus     02/26/2010 11:17 AM     
  following up on what Ixusus said  
As more and more students get on IEPS, requiring significant more paperwork and individualized one-on-one attention then teachers have that much more work to do... one lesson plan can become ten.... just for one class period.

Better to be in a more open IB program, rather than the typical US system which marginalizes the teacher and gives too much credence to paperwork responsibilities.

What the heck? The kids need to learn something? That´s not our primary mission? (kidding, of course- but this whole No Child Left Behind concept needs to be edupunked.)

  by: theironboard     02/26/2010 11:40 AM     
  You can´t  
get blood from a stone. If the professional, state certified teachers at the school are not achieving good results, it´s not because they don´t care. Nobody likes to fail at their career, and nobody likes to see their students not achieving.

The issue here is the same issue throughout the country: teachers take the brunt of the blame, and the parents get off scot-free. I´m willing to bet that the parents are not that involved with the school. I´m willing to bet that they are not involved with getting their children ready and willing to learn at school. Learning starts in the HOME! Schools today are basically raising children, because many parents are either too busy, incapable, or uncaring to be more involved with their child´s education, which starts at HOME!

Until the lazy American parent starts taking some responsibility for the education of their own children, it doesn´t matter how much money or how much time or how much effort teachers and school systems put into education, the outcome will not be successful.

Until parents get involved with the educational process of their children, American education is nothing more than a scam. You have politicians telling us that "test scores are rising" and they hide behind that. The reality is, students lack critical thinking skills any more, are being taught to the test, and many are just plain lazy and soft. Public schools are a scary place, believe me, as I´ve personally seen it decline over the last 15 years, not improve. And the politicians are lying to us all. Rising test scores mean nothing, not when everything has been dumbed down and No Child Left Behind has done more harm than good.

We have a real problem here in America. Our educational system, for the most part, is a SCAM. Just look at the Japanese if you don´t believe it.
  by: The IT   02/26/2010 09:10 PM     
  Here is the thing  
When our political leaders, law enforcement and anyone else who is in charge only cares about one thing, CASH do you think anyone else is going to care about anything else ?

This is way our nation, and world has been deteriorating since the late 1980s.
  by: ohioankev   02/27/2010 09:08 AM     
  As I sat down in class...  
a math teacher picked up his math book and said, "I know more than this book", and then threw the book in the trash can next to his desk. I was hesitant to drop his class at first, and did some research on ratemyprof and myedu. Turns out he had the highest turnover rate and his average class size was 17 with no one receiving an´ A´.

Schools really need to start weeding out arrogant, tenured pompous asshats that digress from teaching to showboating. Granted they may have PhD´s, but if they are incapable of teaching their ´mastered´ subjects to fresh ´eager to learn´ minds, then to me, they are not worthy of having a PhD and their degrees are worthless.

The other problem that many institutions overlook is what I like to call the additional language ´acccent´ processing factor [ALAPF]. Through no fault of our own, the mind becomes accustomed to listening, speaking and interpreting language in one way {Contrary to popular belief, being trained in different languages does not help complete litigate the effects of ALAPF}.

That is, for those of us that have had foreign teachers with accents that are other than British or American, there is a high tendency to try to process the information they are speaking, while trying to process what they are trying say in foreign accented English.

For example, I grew up in a Asian neighborhood, so the Indian, Chinese, Japanese-English accents are more easily understood by me. However, when I was taking my statistics classes, there were many in my class that were struggling to grasp what our prof was saying. Case in point: When the instructor would say ´Arfa´, many student wrote down Arfa verbatim, when in fact the professor meant the greek symbol alpha. Another example is when she she would say ´now´, the students wrote down ´now´ when the prof was actually describing the ´null´ hypothesis. Or when the prof would say ´eiches saab sero´ when the prof was really trying to describe the notation for the null hypothesis which is denoted by the capital letter ´H´ with a 0 sub-set, or ´H sub zero´ in plain English.

Now, the prof was very good as I walked out of both statistics classes with an A+. However, many of my colleagues didn´t fare as well. Sometimes, it´s the system that fails, sometimes it´s just trying to bridge the communications gap. Are there teachers that should not be in the system? Absolutely! Are there teachers that are incapable of teaching? You bet!

To me the problem seems to be that in an age of interaction and increasing social interaction via portable electronic devices and other mediums, the classes are seemingly dragging behind in the rapidly evolving ´e-world´. There are students in classes that feel like the class is dragging on and they seem to be locked into speed writing and memorization mode, who are falling behind in class, yet are up to speed on the latest trends in their social circles, fashion, music and sports. This shows me that students are not dumb, they are not being engaged. The degree of interaction has decreased. Strike that, the degree of required interaction has decreased or been decreased. There are many classes where the students go into class and burn through notes and that´s it. Many students in higher education are reluctant to participate in voluntary discussion or debate even when engaged by professors. The teaching styles need to change, and fast!

To develop a mind, to nurture it, it must be engaged and challenged. With many teachers simply throwing material on the board and assigning massive amounts of homework now that would even take the heart of me had I had that much homework back when I was in grade school.

I look at it from the perspective of elementary to-pre elementary children. There is a high degree of nurturing interactivity when teaching elementary, writing and basic arithmetic skills. Yet as the students progress by grade level, the level of interactivity tapers off and the degree of voluntary participation tapers off as well.

That being said, along with a shift in teaching styles, I also believe that like most successful corporations that have a system of metrics for measuring success, all institutions that wish for success must not only have a system of metrics but follow through on them. In the corporate world, in-efficient workers are either re-trainer, delegated to positions where they may be better suited, or terminated altogether. The same should hold true in the education system.

The challenge of any corporation is to change a culture that becomes engraved. In many cases, that may have to lead to consequential firing of an entire staff.

  by: questworldz     02/27/2010 09:25 PM     
An example, as a former consultant, I was hired to examine why productivity was down at a small firm. The productivity was down due to personal e-activities being performed on company time. A short time frame was given to employees to correct their actions. Needless to say, the same transgressions were still occurring. As a result, the firm fired everyone, relocated their offices, and made sure the new employees signed and understood what was expected of them. The very next year, productivity shot up an unprecedented 560%!! The same should be applied to schools as well, well minus the relocating the school part as that wouldn´t be cost efficient.
  by: questworldz     02/27/2010 09:27 PM     
I agree with your comment about parents to a certain extent. Most parents send their children to school to learn, to be taught, because the parents are unable to afford time to teach their children. That being said, the school should be able to instill a sense of confidence in the student about their own individual knowledge so that when the students come home, they can tackle their homework judiciously without the need for outside of the school help.

If help is needed outside of the school, then there is a gap somewhere. Many households have gone from single income to dual income. In that type of setting, the ability of a parent to set apart time to help their children becomes hard due to an imbalance in the household work.

Just as you say no teacher wants to fail in their career, no parent wants to fail as a parent nor wants to see their children fail. Which is why the concept of school exists. Parents send their children to school with a belief that a school will provide for their children, a better quality of education than the parents can afford to give.

That is not to say that parents can be completely blame free. The parents should do their best to make sure that students are completing their assignments in a timely fashion, and provide the students an environment that harbors and nurtures education in the home.

However, as much as I want to delegate blame to parents, I also cannot help but put a bulk of the blame on a school. A parent is trusting a school with their child, that the child will come out more confident, more knowledgeable, more skillful. If a school is unable to convert a child, then it is my opinion that either the school re-examine it´s strategy, or tailor a program to a struggling student so that the student is successful. The goal of a school shouldn´t be that most students pass, it should be that every student passes. Are there students that are harder to teach than others? Sure, but that, I believe is a task for the school to challenge. For if a school can help a struggling student pass, then the school is worthy of being called a true school and not just another institution with a dichotomy of pass or fail, the intellectually elite or the hopelessly dumb, or the have´s and the have not´s.
  by: questworldz     02/27/2010 09:45 PM     
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