Teacher who hung Obama in effigy should go
At the Rhode Island school where all the educators and staff were recently fired, a teacher hung upside down a foot-tall effigy of President Obama in a classroom, apparently in reaction to Obama’s support of the firings. The mass firings were wrong, but this teacher ought to go.
The teachers union today condemned the teacher and the effigy, which was found in the teacher’s third-floor classroom at Central Falls High School by Supt. Frances Gallo, the Associated Press reported.
Gallo told CNN that the foot-tall Obama doll was hanging on a white board from its feet and was holding a sign that said "Fire Central Falls teachers."
Here’s a statement from Central Falls teachers union President Jane Sessums:
The Central Falls Teachers Union strongly condemns the actions of a Central Falls High School teacher who placed an effigy of President Obama upside down in his classroom as part of what he described as a lesson plan. Simply put, the teacher’s actions were wrong and cannot be condoned under any circumstances.The teacher has apologized verbally to his students and has asked Superintendent Frances Gallo for permission to apologize to them in writing. He understands that his actions affect not just his students but all of us. There is no excuse for what he did.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, issued this statement:
“No facts or circumstances can justify the actions of a Central Falls High School teacher who hung a doll of President Obama upside down in his classroom as part of what he described as a lesson plan. The teacher’s actions were wrong and unacceptable. The teacher has apologized to all his students, and understands that his actions affect not just them but all of us. As teachers, we hold ourselves to a high standard, and must do everything possible to promote respect and fight bigotry.”
The worldwide web is not expansive enough for me to list all the reasons that this act is stupid--and a fireable offense.
I recently wrote about my opposition to mass firings at schools, which is what happened at Central Falls High, the only high school in the smallest and poorest of Rhode Island’s cities. (Up to half of the teachers could be hired back under the reconstitution scheme.)
That was the remedy under the No Child Left Behind law chosen by Gallo to deal with the school’s continued low student achievement. Single-digit statistics about very low graduation rates and student achievement were cited by the education committee that approved the firings, though teachers have said they were exaggerated.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan applauded the move, saying the firings showed “courage,” and Obama, who doesn’t ordinarily talk about the teacher firings, jumped in:
“When a school board wasn’t able to deliver change by other means, they voted to lay off the faculty and the staff. As my Education Secretary Arne Duncan, says, our kids get only one chance at an education, and we need to get it right.”
Mass firings, unfortunately, aren’t the right thing to do for low-performing schools. It’s been tried many times in actions affecting a few hundreds of thousands of teachers in more than half of the states -- and only in a small minority of cases has it helped. The fact that Obama and Duncan want to continue this remedy in their proposed revision of No Child Left Behind is worrisome.
Getting rid of all the adults in the Central Falls High School hardly seems like the answer to a chronic low-performing school, especially when there have been four superintendents in less than eight years in the district and several principals in five years. The high school has for five years been under the control of the supervising committee that decided to get rid of the teachers. Maybe the members should fire themselves.
There have been communications between the Central High teachers union and Gallo over a resolution to the mess that would be less drastic than replacing the entire staff. It is unclear where that is going; I hope some settlement is reached.
But no matter how angry the teachers are at any public official for their involvement or support of the firings, the behavior of the Central Falls teacher was unacceptable.
In fact, someone with such poor judgment shouldn’t be teaching. That teacher should go.
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| March 18, 2010; 5:25 PM ET
Categories: Education Secretary Duncan, No Child Left Behind, Teachers | Tags: President Obama, central falls, rhode island school, teachers fired
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