Going to the Gallo(w)s

When Frances Gallo, Superintendent of Central Falls, Rhode Island, announced two weeks ago that she was going to fire all the teachers at the perennially failing Central Falls High School, teachers (not surprisingly) went ballistic. Gallo is acting under the direction of State Superintendent Deborah Gist, who ordered a few supes to choose one of Secretary Duncan’s four turnaround options for their lowest-performing schools. Remember that Gallo first opted for a more limited reform plan (“transformation”), but union recalcitrance to her six requests quickly sent her in the other direction. (The district only has one high school, so school closure or “takeover” by an independent organization was unrealistic.) Now the local school board has approved, Gist has given her sign off, and Duncan is sending accolades all the way from Washington. Turning around schools is no easy matter on paper. In real life, it’s even messier. But for the superintendent of the smallest, poorest city in the nation’s smallest state, having her battle for student achievement turn into a national story might have been hardest of all. The good news is that Gallo is getting “résumés from all over the nation” to fill the soon-vacant positions. Maybe this tiny mill town has a brighter future after all.

Central Falls to fire every high school teacher,” by Jennifer D. Jordan and Linda Borg, The Providence Journal, February 13, 2010

Every Central Falls teacher fired, labor outraged,” by Jennifer D. Jordan, The Providence Journal, February 24, 2010