Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Obama Endorses RI's "Fire All Teachers" Plan

I'm sure that having no teachers will turn around those dipping test scores:

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.

Busloads of teachers from across the state came to show solidarity with the Central Falls teachers. Julie Boyle, an English teacher at another high school, told the Providence Journal:

I think the real goal is to bust the unions. Sometimes a teacher is the only touchstone in a student’s life. I’m sad for the students who will lose their touchstones.

Again, regardless of how you feel about different approaches to education reform, I'm still not sure at what point firing all the teachers starts to look like a sensible idea. I'm sure all the replacement teachers with no experience that fill EVERY POSITION IN THE SCHOOL will have no problems learning how to be a full time teacher while improving the declining test scores that the superintendent was so upset about.

Well, the good news is that the Bush Era is over, and organized labor worked so hard to elect someone who would speak out against this kind of nonsense:
President Obama voiced support Monday for the mass firings of educators at a failing Rhode Island school, drawing an immediate rebuke from teachers union officials whose members have chafed at some of his education policies.

Speaking at an event intended to highlight his strategy for turning around struggling schools by offering an increase in federal funding for local districts that shake up their lowest-achieving campuses, Obama called the controversial firings justified.
. . .
Meanwhile, state and local education officials received some high-powered support of their own, when U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan weighed in, saying he “applauded” them for “showing courage and doing the right thing for kids.” [...]

“This is hard work and these are tough decisions, but students only have one chance for an education,” Education Secretary Duncan said, “and when schools continue to struggle we have a collective obligation to take action.”
Obama has yet to see any significant push back from labor on almost anything, but this has to cross some sort of line. This isn't indifference, this is lending backing to a worldview that doesn't believe organized labor has a right to exist.

As Michael Whitney points out, it's also good to line this up with how Obama has treated the fuck ups in the financial sector:

School is under preforming?
Obama: Firing all the teachers is an appropriate solution.

Recklessness on Wall Street that tanks the entire US Economy?
Obama: Everyone keeps their jobs, works hard behind the scenes to protect their bonuses.

This is truly shameful, and fairly shocking that he would go out of his way to applaud it. If I wanted a union buster in the White House, I would have voted for Hillary Clinton.


  1. ah yes, yet another example of him pursuing perfection at the cost of the plausible...

  2. doesn't this also mean that 90 dedicated professionals have been picked up off the street to fill these newly vacant positions?

  3. That's ridiculous. You don't improve the population of staff at a school by annihilating it. At the risk of being socially Darwinist, wouldn't it make more sense to mandate firing/replacement of some number of the "worst" teachers/staff so long as the school is judged to be under-performing?
    Not to mention, who the hell would want to work there (as the replacements) with the threat of another nuclear strike on the teaching staff? Would you want to live in Nagasaki? Who would want Chernobyl on their resume?
    The hiring pool for the replacements is going to be even shallower than the one they were pulling from when they got the apparently-incompetent group they just fired.