RI School District Fires Every Teacher

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A Rhode Island school district has fired every single teacher at one of it's under-performing high schools, one of the latest example of a "get tough" approach on schools that are falling behind.

But some argue that the teachers' union could be to blame for these pink slips.

It read like a role call: one by one teachers at Central Falls Highschool were called out and fired. There were 74 teachers in all.

"I've been at Central Falls for 28 years, and I've have done to deserve to be fired, absolutely nothing. I've given my heart, my soul to my job," Athletic Director Kathy Luther said.

The high school is one of the lowest performing in the state. Only 48 percent of the students graduate.

The government is demanding the school make changes or close down. So district officials proposed a transformation plan that included 25 minute longer days and required teachers to tutor after school.

But the teachers' union rejected that proposal, saying teachers needed to be paid $90 an hour more for the overtime. The average teacher salary at the school is over $60,000 a year.

Negotiations between the union and the district broke down, leaving the district with no choice but to fire the teachers.

Superintendent Doctor Frances Gallo told CBN News most of the teachers agreed with changes, but lost their jobs because the union threw them under the bus.

"I expected the teachers to stand up and speak to the union and say these are not outlandish requests, and we want them. I met with the teachers, anyone who wanted to meet and met openly with them and individually no one objected," Gallo said.

Students seem to be left confused and disturbed in the tangled mess of bureaucracy.

"I don't think it's fair," one student said. "I mean we would be nothing without the teachers."

"Not once did the unions put the children first in their thinking, or bring them to the table and bring their needs with them. It's all about adult entitlement, and that's a very difficult situation," Gallo said.

The Obama administration supports the firings and continues to insist every state fix it's lowest performing schools.

"Enough is enough. We can't continue to wait. Our children have one chance to get a quality education," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.

The teachers union is pursing all legal options to fight the firings. They are warning states across the country that if this can happen in Rhode Island, it can happen anywhere.

"It's a pretty scary thing when the leaders of our children, the teachers, the role models in their lives are not thinking for themselves and are led around by union leadership," Gallo said.

The terminations will go into effect at the end of the school year. All teachers will be allowed to re-apply for their jobs.

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Lorie  Johnson

Lorie Johnson

CBN News Medical Reporter

Lorie Johnson reports on the latest information about health and wellness. Since medicine is constantly changing, she makes sure CBN News viewers are up-to-date on what they need to know in order to live a healthy life.  Follow Lorie on Twitter @LorieCBN and "like" her at Facebook.com/LorieJohnsonCBN.