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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

From Rhode Island, a sign of things to come?



Things are getting hot in American schools. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is applauding a decision last night by a tiny Rhode Island school board to fire every single teacher in a troubled high school, saying board members were "showing courage and doing the right thing for kids."

Central Falls High School is one of Rhode Island's worst, according to the Providence Journal. And to turn it around, the superintendent proposed the following changes: "Adding 25 minutes to the school day, providing tutoring on a rotating schedule before and after school, eating lunch with students once a week, submitting to more rigorous evaluations, attending weekly after-school planning sessions with other teachers and participating in two weeks of training in the summer."

The superintendent said she could only pay teachers for some of the the extra duties, and at a rate of $30 per hour. The teachers (who reportedly make $70,000 to $78,000 a year) wanted $90 per hour. Talks broke down. One thing led to another. Boom.

Rhode Island officials say they can do this because use of federal stimulus dollars requires that they choose one of four options to restructure struggling schools - and one of them is to boot most of the staff.

Florida's differentiated accountability system, which echoes the federal rules, says a district can "replace" staff at struggling schools - and that's happened at a few places. But can it fire teachers en masse? That seems unlikely, unless a district wants to waste a lot of time and money in administrative hearings. Then again, there is that tenure bill that's supposed to surface any day ...

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:51am]


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