Video: Fired RI teachers capitulate, can return to work

For the background of this story, be sure to read my post from February, but here are the broad parameters. Central Falls High School has been a long-running disaster in its depressed town in Rhode Island, graduating only half of its students. The teachers refused to work an additional 25 minutes per day and committing to additional tutoring, despite earning over $70K per year in a town where the average salary was less than a third of that, at $22K. The union balked at the concessions, and the district decided to fire all of the instructors — an outcome tacitly applauded by none other than Barack Obama himself, as CNN’s report notes.

Now the teachers will come back to work, but only after capitulating to the district:

The two sides said Sunday a so-called transformation plan for Central Falls High School for the coming school year will allow current staff to return to the school without having to reapply for their jobs. Under the plan, teachers will work longer school days, provide more after-school tutoring, and agree to a new evaluation system. They will also have to interview with the school’s new prinicipal.

Education Secretary Deborah Gist praised the transformation plan.

“These are exactly the kinds of reforms we know are necessary to make the dramatic improvements we’re expecting at Central Falls High School,” Gist said Sunday.

In other words, they agreed to abide by the superintendent’s original demands. Furthermore, they have to now submit to an interview process to determine whether they get their jobs back, a consequence of their initial defiance. The only mediation that took place in this process must have involved just how pathetic their retreat would be allowed to look.

Answer: abjectly pathetic, and deservedly so. How anyone could defend a status quo that allowed half of the students at Central Falls High School to fail is beyond comprehension. It looks as though the teachers learned a lesson about accountability and the limits of community patience.