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If It Takes a Village, Why Fire Only the Teachers? March 11, 2010

Posted by Dindy in Current Events, Schools, Uncategorized.
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In Central Falls, RI, seventy-four teachers and nineteen staff members at the high school are being fired because of chronic low performance by the students.  I have to wonder why it is only the teachers and front line staff who are being fired. Why not fire the administrators who make up the rules under which the teachers perform? Why not fire the parents for not making sure their children come to school prepared to learn? Why not fire the members of the legislature for putting politics over substance by implementing Teach to the Test policies that don’t actually improve education? Why not fire the local government for failing to turn the town economically so that forty-one percent of the town’s children live in poverty?

To say that the teachers at Central Falls High School are by themselves responsible for the failure of the students to learn is ignoring all the other elements that go into educating students. Teachers don’t teach in a vacuum– they use textbooks that are approved by the state and teach to curriculum guidelines set by the state. They work in conjunction with special ed services provided by the district, oversight from the district, supplies provided by the student, the parents, the school district, the state or private donors. The students themselves come to teachers through the courtesy of previous teachers who were responsible for ensuring that the kids finish the school year ready to tackle next year’s material. The teachers operate under discipline policies set by the district under the auspices of the School Board. They teach students that come to them each day with hungry bellies because their parents can’t afford to put dinner on the table and who seldom see their parents because of the long hours they put in at work. Yet, the teachers at this school are expected to be held accountable for the failures of an entire community.

Firing teachers is the kind of thing politicians like because it makes it look as though they are holding educators accountable, but in reality all they are doing is making the teachers scapegoats for failures that are endemic to the system. If students at Central Falls High School are failing to learn, it is because the entire system has failed them, not just the teachers.

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