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This is the most curious news story of the week, written by the GoLocalProv News Team.”*
It says that the fate of the reform of the Providence public schools lies in the hands of the Providence Teachers Union, led by Maribeth Calabro; she, the story warns, may be able to veto the new state commissioner’s plans to transform the Providence public schools. It does not mention that the state commissioner taught for two years in New York City as a fast-tracked Teach for America teacher, has no prior experience as either a school principal or superintendent and has kept her plans to transform the district a deep secret.
But here is where the article goes strange.
In 2011, newly-elected Providence Mayor Angel Taveras fired all the teachers in Providence — it was a big and bold decision, and it was reversed within days.
Not too many politicians, especially Democrats. will take on teachers unions in this country and especially in the heavily union-based Rhode Island.
The action in 2011 drew national attention. In a statement, the American Federation of Teachers national President Randi Weingarten called the decision “stunning,” especially given that the union and city “have been working collaboratively on a groundbreaking, nationally recognized school transformation model.”
“We looked up ‘flexibility’ in the dictionary, and it does not mean destabilizing education for all students in Providence or taking away workers’ voice or rights,” said Weingarten, whose organization includes 1.5 million teachers and staff. “Mass firings, whether in one school or an entire district, are not fiscally or educationally sound.”
Well, the teachers union claim that Providence Schools were a ‘transformational model’ did not prove to be correct. Providence Schools are considered to be among the worst in America.
Infante-Green has said she believes she has the power to “break contracts.”
The News Team seems to believe that firing all the teachers in the district is a “big and bold” idea that is worth a try. The mayor wanted to do it in 2011, but the union got in his way.
Apparently the News Team wants the state commissioner to fire all the teachers now and is egging her on to do so.
Exactly how will that improve the district?
Exactly how will that affect morale?
Who will want to teach in a district where teachers are disposable, like tissues?
Will Teach for America supply the new teachers after the existing workforce has been fired? Will they agree to stay longer than two years?
Where is the evidence that firing all the teachers is good for students?
*The original version of this post misattributed the article to the Providence Journal, which is owned by Gatehouse Media.