Archive for March, 2010

All Teachers Left Behind: Getting The Gist?

March 4, 2010

In a recent speech, President Obama supported a decision made by the Central Falls school committee to fire all ninety-three of its high school teachers and personnel because of low student achievement scores and graduation rates. So much for improving the unemployment rate though, huh?

Waves of Draconian measures like these are sweeping across the country, attempting to drown out our public education system. And victims of the reactionary riptides are washing up on both shores. In California and elsewhere, massive cuts to state colleges have prompted thousands of students to skip their classes today in a protest known as the National Day of Action to Defend Public Schools. Unfortunately, with the leadership of the two major parties favoring a for-profit educational model, it’s the students who will be abandoned in the long run.

At Central Falls High School, the exodus is evidently starting with the teachers. Their mass firing is a result of the controversial No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which is rearing its ugly head on poorly performing schools by forcing them into one of several drastic options — including closing or becoming a charter school. Supporters of the trendy charter movement now underway throughout the US, like RI Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, claim these privately run schools produce positive results for the lucky few who hit the K-12 lottery, but do they? And at what cost to the rest of the community? In order to maintain profitability, charters have been known to hire non-certified teachers, refuse special needs students and cut programs. In other words, like most big corporations, they become beholden to their investors rather than their customers (a.k.a. our children). On top of that, charters can also siphon away tax dollars by piggy backing on existing public school infrastructure.

With a nearly 50% decrease in the amount of state aid for education and three recently closed schools, Bristol will be especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of NCLB unless we do something about it. In a very short time, the Kickemuit Education Foundation has done an excellent job of raising funds for the Bristol-Warren School District. Go to their 2nd Annual Bodacious Bee and support a good cause — the future of the town! Plus, Ms. Gist will be there. She doesn’t want to be asked to spell anything but maybe she’ll read the writing on the wall: If she fires herself, she really could save our schools!