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Firing All Educators Is Ineffective

At this point, you are familiar with what is happening in Central Falls, Rhode Island, where 74 teachers were set on fire after the school committee voted to fire 93 members of the Central Falls High School. They did this because about half of the school’s students graduate, and only 7 percent of 11th-graders were proficient in math in 2009, according to a note in the Washington Post.

While many are happy with this decision, there is another group who think that is a desperate measure. If we were in the production business, or in any of the marketing efficiency areas, the step is the correct. However, neither the teachers, nor the students are merchandises and were neither assigned a economic value. There has to be some mistakes but firing teachers it is the the most inefficient procedure to clear that mess.

Valerie Strauss from the washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet does a succinct analysis with facts and wider view of things in the education complex:

Now, all they have to do is find 93 excellent professionals to take their places. Recruiting the best educators should be easy, especially when you can offer them life in a very poor town and a job with no security.

And, of course, the powers that be will have to ignore all the other influences on high school students because their poor performance was all about the adults at the high school.

Their elementary and middle school education -- or lack thereof? Not a problem.

Their sometimes difficult home lives? Naw. That doesn’t affect how a kid does at school.

No Child Left Behind, a federal education law that has driven schools to drastically narrow curriculum and use rudimentary standardized tests to measure how well kids are doing? Nope. Not an issue, nor is the fact that Duncan is largely continuing the NCLB practices that have been shown to be a failure.

Firing all the educators may sound bold to some, but it sounds sad and desperate -- not to mention ineffective -- to me.

There is no evidence that wholesale changes at schools makes a difference at schools, though it has been tried repeatedly in districts around the country -- even in Duncan’s Chicago public schools, which he ran for years before becoming education secretary.

As my colleague Nick Anderson noted in a Post story Duncan tried a lot of things during his more than seven years as Chicago chief: shutting down schools, hiring experts in turning around schools, and firing a lot of people. There results? To put it nicely, there was no Chicago miracle. Some schools improved, others didn’t.

That’s because grand gestures don’t work in improving schools. It would be nice if they did, but time and time again, we’ve learned they don’t. Making schools work is a hard, hard job. There is no one thing that you can blame; there is no single remedy that works for every school and school district.

Instead of trying to figure out where real changes could be made at Central Falls High, the powers that be there went ahead and did the desperate thing.

Let Duncan call them courageous. It sounds foolish to me. And the people who will most suffer? As usual, the kids.

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  1. Article is right on the $. I teach and many are the factors that affect my job, specially when all educational issues today are decided by non-teachers: Congress, state legislatures, boards of education and bean counters (school administrators). When I, as a teacher control my working environment and make the important educational decisions collaborative and collegiallly with fellow teachers; then blame me if things go wrong and chastise me and fire me only then.

  2. I teach in Newark, NJ...a school district with many, many, many failing schools and TONS of problems and issues that affect students learning. My students are grossly below grade level, have behavioral issues, horrific home lives where education is not stressed or reinforced yet it is my job to get them to pass all unit/curriculum test and be proficient on the state's standardized test ! You can fire every teacher in every failing school in every failing district in America and that still will NOT be the answer. The answer is facing the problem(s)and where they really lie and giving the student as much support (ie. intense in school tutoring) and counseling (a forgotten answer to many issues) and even as I type this it may not be enough to circumvent the issues I previously mentioned. I, like many, do not have the "perfect" answer but I do know that firing an entire school is definitely NOT the answer. I'd love to read a follow up to this story in 5 years and see if the test scores and passing rates went up.