Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Central Falls Back in the News

With Central Falls back in the news, including Claudio Sanchez's striking NPR piece, I don't have any particular insight, but it is probably worth repeating some points about the unique status of Central Falls.

We managed to get through the whole first wave of this scandal without the governance structure of the district being explained anywhere I could find it:

The Central Falls School District Board of Trustees was established by state statute in 2002, to govern the city’s schools, which are financed entirely by state and federal funds.

The seven members of the board are appointed by the state Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education, which also designates the chairperson.

According to the law, four trustees must be residents of the city and parents of current or former Central Falls public school students. The remaining three shall be appointed at large.

The trustees receive no compensation for their service and must meet at least monthly.

The state education commissioner and the Regents provide recommendations about the district budget, the selection of the superintendent and they must sign off on the teachers contract that is negotiated by the Central Falls Teachers Union and the Board of Trustees.

Glad the ProJo finally cleared that up. Kind of relevant, don't you think?

Also from the ProJo:

“Our protocol gives districts a chance to intervene and turn the school around,” Gist said. “If that is not successful, the next step is reconstitution … and that could include closing the school.”

It isn't clear to me what this threat means or who it is aimed at. It is kind of like if you threatened to shoot someone, backed down, and then came back and threatened to shoot them with a bigger gun. My understanding is that all the teachers will have to reapply for their jobs regardless at the end of this year. Last year's principal was already fired. The teachers who resigned this year can't resign again next year. The board is already appointed by the state and has veto power over the teacher contract. The whole city is in receivership. You can't take any more power away from Central Falls.

An even better metaphor would be that when you come back with the bigger gun, you don't notice someone else has already shot the person.

So I don't really know what RIDE is considering. Is this their way of setting the table to merge the district into the surrounding ones (plus charters)? To be honest it is the only thing that makes sense, but I don't think they're in any position to do it, particularly with a new governor coming in and a lame-duck Board of Regents. Regardless, Chafee is being handed a real bag of shit.

Also, from this morning:

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. -- About 20 Central Falls High School students started a low-key protest Wednesday morning, refusing to go to class, instead standing across the street in frigid weather eating homemade cookies.

The group eventually increased to about 50 before the students decided to end their outdoor protest. When the students tried getting into the school at about 9:30 a.m., they found that the doors were locked.

"We're protesting against the administration. They don't talk to us. They don't tell us what's going on," said Julie Perez, a junior, said earlier.

"I want them to talk to us and ask us what we think is best for the school," Perez said. "We have no say in what's going on."

We'll see if Young Voices tries sticking its nose in again.

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