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Rhode Island High School Fires Entire Teaching Staff

Original post made by Ptown resident, Stoneridge, on Feb 24, 2010

Cedar Falls High School in Rhode Island was identified as one of the poorest performing high schools in the state. The school was given four different options to improve its performance.
One of the options for the school board was to fire the entire staff, and that option was ultimately taken when contract negotiations broke down between the school board and the teachers' union.
The teachers there have a much more difficult job than do teachers in a district like Pleasanton. Many of the Cedar Falls students live in poverty, for many English is a second language.
Neither parents nor teachers disagree about these difficulties and they agree there is a need to revamp an educational system that isn't working.
But in the end, that agreement didn't matter.
In the end, it all came down to money.








Web Link

Comments (30)

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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 12:01 pm

In Napa County they recalled most of the St. Helena Unified School Board last night for similar reasons to the frustrations expressed with the PUSD board.

Web Link)


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Trying again to make the link work:

Web Link))


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Web Link


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Posted by It's about the teachers
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Whether it's a charter school or a traditional school it's all about great teachers.
Web Link

By posting this article are you implying that all teachers in the PUSD should be fired or that teachers in the PUSD are "all about the money"?
If it's "all about the money" then please tell me what job is NOT "all about the money"?


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Posted by Ptown resident
a resident of Stoneridge
on Feb 24, 2010 at 3:21 pm

By posting this article are you implying that all teachers in the PUSD should be fired or that teachers in the PUSD are "all about the money"?

NO!

On the contrary. Taking a pay cut, by anyone, to save a business or a school district is amazing, regardless of the size of the cut. A pay cut or layoffs should only happen after every other method to reduce expenses has been done. If it's necessary, it should hit all parties equally which doesn't seem to be the case in Pleasanton since teachers who weren't up to get a step increase this year take a bigger hit than those who are.

Firing all the teachers at Cedar Falls was an extreme measure that doesn't seem to benefit anyone. Instead of helping this school, seems the state is punishing them. They know this is a school in a very low income area, and with many students who don't speak English, so it's very difficult to teach there and it's not a new problem. Why not develop community programs that address the problems they know contribute to poor student performance? I don't see how firing the entire staff is a solution. Even if there were teachers that didn't perform well, how does that justify firing all of them?

This seemed like a very crazy way to try to resolve a problem with a poor performing school. But whoever is holding the purse strings is the pied piper calling the tune in spite of everything the community is saying.




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Posted by guess what
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 3:35 pm

I think what's being challenged is that publicly funded positions such as teachers get tenure, guaranteed step and column increases and guaranteed pensions. Those of us in the private sector get none of this. Not sure publicly funded jobs should really be able to unionize either.
I've seen posts on another discussion arguing that the great teachers are what keeps Pleasantons home values strong. If that's true, they should feel comfortable giving up tenure and letting free market competition play out. Just a thought.


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Posted by Anna Graham
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Feb 24, 2010 at 4:45 pm

It's worth noting that the average salary in this hard-hit Rhode Island town is somewhere just below $23k, whereas teachers were making more than three times that, on average. In Pleasanton terms, that would equate to $357k annually per teacher. The reality, however, is that our teachers average about half the median income of a Pleasantonian...and falling.


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Posted by guess what
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 5:41 pm


Anna, you are wrong. Per the link below, or any other you can find,
the average household income, is 98K. That could be dual earners.
Pleasanton teachers average 81.5k and have 12 weeks off.

Web Link


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Posted by Sally
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 24, 2010 at 6:19 pm

I am appalled that dedicated people who pay out a great deal of money to the university system for a teaching certificate, then go through multiple observations, training, and probationary periods are considered failures because the students don't speak English ( habla Espanol?) , may not even attend school regularly, have parents who work late hours and so babysit siblings, take on after school jobs to support their parents, of just don't care about a dull future. I guess if the Department of Education destroys the teaching industry, then we can become a third world country - maybe this is already happening? After all who would become a teacher? Good pay? Easy duties? Lack of supervision? Positive criticism? For the same price of a college degree one can earn much much more, and have a pension, and health care, and bonuses, etc.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 24, 2010 at 7:05 pm

The article about the board that was recalled is much more interesting! The link is hinky, but if you Google St. Helena Board Recall, it will pop up. I don't mean this as a threat to our board, although I'd like to see new faces come November, but it is evidence that we are not the only community who feels we aren't represented well by those we elected locally. Thanks resident!


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Posted by Anonymousse
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Resident, do you think it's funny that all the staff got laid off? Are you suggesting that PUSD do the same?

There is much to say about experience. Nothing against new teachers, but there is a lengthy learning curve to teaching, much of it involving dealing with problem students and parents, and how to effectively teach many children of different ability levels. After many trials and errors later will a teacher learn what works best.

If you are so keen on high turnover, then let me put this question to you: would you prefer, say, an experienced doctor operating on your faulty heart or a doctor fresh out of school who has performed only one or two heart surgeries before?

I value experience and many industries value experience. Experienced people are generally paid more. This is how it is in the private sector. Why should the public sector be any different?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 24, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Maybe they needed to lower the student-teacher ratio even further. 11:1 apparently was not low enough.


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Posted by Go for it
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 9:29 pm

What I get from the article is that there is one school district out there in Rhode Island that won't let itself be intimidated by the teachers' union.

If they can do it, so can PUSD. It is time to re-do the contracts, get rid of unreasonable items such as step and column (in times of deficit raises are unreasonable) - if the union doesn't like it, by all means do what Rhode Island did!


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Posted by Public sector is different because of the unions
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 9:32 pm

"Why should the public sector be any different?"

Because in the public sector, experience does not necessarily mean good.

There are excellent teachers who are new, and excellent teachers who have been teaching a long time.

There are also teachers who are awful but because of "experience" - aka, seniority, can't get fired. That is the difference: the private sector fires bad employees regardless of "experience", the public sector keeps bad employees thanks to the union.


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 9:58 pm

"they should feel comfortable giving up tenure and letting free market competition play out"

But its not a free market as the funding is fixed and provided by the state, not on the quality of product or services.

I don't have a problem with teachers giving up tenure or seniority, but free markets don't' guarantee great employees. I hear people complain everyday about employees in their company that they work for are idiots or only got promoted for this reason or that or screw up everything and no one can figure out why they are still employed.


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:11 pm

While firing the whole staff may seem like a good idea and may work there are some things to consider before you stand up and demand that PUSD do the same.

First off, if they fired all the PUSD teachers ostensibly they would want to hire only the best teachers to fill those positions. But why would a good teacher want to come to this district knowing that at any minute they could be fired again if some of the other people they hired weren't as good as they thought or perhaps the test scores didn't improve fast enough. Do we really think that the best teachers from all over the Bay area would rush to fill those positions?

Of course if its only a financial decision, then it would probably work. Heck, we could even make a profit if we fired everyone and just had substitutes everyday. Then we could distribute the funds to the community and everyone would be happy.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 24, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Who is proposing to fire all PUSD teachers? I think the original poster's intent of posting this is being lost by a distraction.


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Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Stacey - Go for it posted "If they can do it, so can PUSD. It is time to re-do the contracts, get rid of unreasonable items such as step and column (in times of deficit raises are unreasonable) - if the union doesn't like it, by all means do what Rhode Island did!"


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Posted by This is why
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 8:15 am

"But why would a good teacher want to come to this district knowing that at any minute they could be fired again if some of the other people they hired weren't as good as they thought or perhaps the test scores didn't improve fast enough."

Because there will be many, many teachers looking for work. These are the younger, non-tenured ones, and they tend to be the best ones overall. Many districts are laying off, across the state and nation, there will be plenty of teachers looking for work.

The best teachers know that they do not need a union, and in fact in PUSD this union is actually working against some teachers. By agreeing to more pay but pay for your own health care, they are hurting the teachers who are not married or do not have a spouse to cover their healthcare. The PUSD union protects the majority which is married or has a way to get healthcare outside of PUSD.

The best teachers will not be afraid to be held accountable.

It is the bad teachers that need the protections of the union.


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Posted by Don't fire til you see the whites of their eyes
a resident of another community
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:37 am

Oh Anonymousse, now you want to be like the private sector? And all you unionists stop bragging about your degrees. I know a lot of people with equal degrees teaching at enterprise rent a car. In the end, a degree is just one aspect of making it in the private. A lot of people can do well in school and can't cut it in the real world, kind of like public sector employees

Letsgo, maybe we should do the substitute thing. Substitutes, and I'm not kidding, were often the best teachers I had.

We need to stop taking responsibility for those who can't speak English nsome of the most excellent students I know are immigrants who didn't speak English well when they got here. However, they didn't ask the system to cater to them. They busted their butts, quickly learned the language, writing it faster than they could speak it, and got top grades in school including in English, not requiring bilingual education or infantile class sizes. In fact, these same people often found themselves teaching English to kids who were born here to illegals who never learned to speak English at home because they're frankly lazy


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Posted by Don't fire til you see the whites of their eyes
a resident of another community
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:39 am

Sorry for the typos. I meant to say "working" at enterprise


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Posted by Marcia
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:50 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger stated: "The article about the board that was recalled is much more interesting! The link is hinky, but if you Google St. Helena Board Recall, it will pop up. I don't mean this as a threat to our board, although I'd like to see new faces come November, but it is evidence that we are not the only community who feels we aren't represented well by those we elected locally. Thanks resident!"

Question: Who pissed in your Wheaties? Certainly you are not vying for another crack at the job by tearing down others so to build you or your constituents up?

Of all people (albeit your service was during the gravy years)!!! you should know and understand more than others what is going on in the state and how it does not and should not reflect negatively on a group of people who have been 'stuck' with this free fall of enduring problems.

Quit the politicizing. You do no one justice; including yourself!


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:59 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Gravy years? They cut bussing back then and you think that's gravy?


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Posted by It's all about the teachers
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 10:18 am

"Because there will be many, many teachers looking for work. These are the younger, non-tenured ones, and they tend to be the best ones overall. "

"Letsgo, maybe we should do the substitute thing. Substitutes, and I'm not kidding, were often the best teachers I had."

WOW! As someone who has worked in schools I find these 2 comments flat out wrong.
No one has commented on this link:
Web Link

Is it because it gives teacher too much credit for their students' outcomes. Thus making pay important in recruiting great teachers????


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 25, 2010 at 10:29 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Thanks for the link. I try to put the emphasis on teacher quality too. But I just get attacked for questioning things like the CSR program.

I have to say though that I don't see anything in that link about pay as an important recruiting tool. This article is much more in depth about that subject: "Pay, Working Conditions, and Teacher Quality" Web Link


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Posted by Marcia
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Stacey..... the bussing was cut because the costs were getting too prohibitive; think insurance and maintenance. It also availed the opportunity to put that saved money towards the kids. The parents had the opportunity to pass via a vote to pay roughly $200/yr to cover the expenses that went with bussing. They voted it down. Parental choice.
Simply compare then to now and anyone that has a clue knows the difference.
The only goal PUSD has ever had is to offer the best education and opportunities for the children of Pleasanton. Again, simple concept.
But like anything else in this country/world, it takes money and time.
All that was ramped up to make PUSD a destination for families with children is dissolving away because of the politics both nationally and locally (state).
Funny how no one argued when we were enjoying better times. Now that there are concerns, the fingers come pointing out like two women in a cat fight.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 25, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Marcia wrote: "The only goal PUSD has ever had is to offer the best education and opportunities for the children of Pleasanton. Again, simple concept."

I agree, a simple goal. It is made difficult by the current system. If all activity were directed towards that goal, we'd have a very different system. Instead we have a system that tip-toes around political issues in order to achieve that goal. We're just lucky to be doing relatively well IN SPITE OF the current system.


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Posted by It's all about the teachers
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Stacey
Pay and working conditions are a major factor in recuiting and retaining employees in all fields. Not just education. The larger the hiring pool the better chance you have at hiring quality employees. Hire is the key word here. After that you need to develop your work force. Because many teachers leave the field in the first few years it becomes even more important to retain quality teachers and/or to attract the best new teachers. Again back to the large hiring pool for another dip.
From your link-
"The long decline in teachers' relative earnings has likely led to a drop-off in average teacher quality."


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Posted by TO "It's all about the teachers"
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Quality teachers are important, but quality teachers have been laid off these past few years because they are the newer ones.

About PUSD teachers: unfortunately we have many who are not so good. This happens across all grade levels. In order to retain quality teachers, we must do without the union. Good teachers should stay regardless of seniority and bad teachers should be fired.

I like what happened in Rhode Island. If you saw the interviews with some teachers, wow! They rejected simple requests like working 7 hours per day, spending an hour a week tutoring students. And they wanted 90 dollars per hour for each additional hour worked!

Firing all those incompetent teachers was the right thing. In the real world it is called "cleaning house." PUSD could benefit from something similar. Many will argue, but the reality is PUSD has some very bad teachers and most are expensive because of tenure and seniority, we owe it to our children to have only good, quality teachers here in PUSD.

Once we have all good teachers in PUSD and NO union, we can have a merit pay system. I think in the long run we would save money because there would be no unions to deal with, no unjustified days off. Teachers would feel valued because they get proper compensation (individually not collectively).


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Posted by guess what
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2010 at 9:31 am

I don't have an issue with firing teachers if they are performing poorly. However, I heard some comments that maybe Obama said, saying that these teachers are responsible for the high drop out rate. I'm sorry, I always thought going to school was a better option than having my dad's boot up my rear. Okay, little joke, but where is the parents responsibility in this?


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