Leaving Finland

Lake Jyvasjarvi I have never lived anywhere for 5 months other than Jyvaskyla, Finland. As my Fulbright journey concludes, there is so much to still digest. It will take months, if not years, to truly assimilate all the learning. Before I left Southern California, I wrote about the what I would miss the most from home and what I  looked forward to experiencing in Finland. It is safe to say I met my goals. Top 7 Goals 1. Discussing Education Helsinki Workshop Through professional development programs, Fulbright Finland connected teachers with scholars and researchers, for the purpose of putting inquisitive minds together. The Making Democracies Resilient to Modern Threats seminar provided participants with fascinating research and presentations. 2. Nordic Model Bus station in Espoo What does an efficient and earnest country look like?  It looks like Finland. Yes, people pay higher taxes, but get so much in return. I for one appreciated the well-maintained ro

Why Firing Central Falls Faculty Was Wrong


Teachers and students from Central Falls HS

Firing the Central Falls faculty was wrong, for reasons we see every day here in South Central Los Angeles.

1.  The premise is that the 74 high school teachers, and no one else, was responsible for the students' academic struggles.  Not socio-economics, not gangs, not the parents, not the students themselves.  What a mistaken assumption.  If this were the magic bullet, wouldn't it have been used more often?  It hasn't because results have been mixed, at best.

2.  If these teachers are fired, it will scare the bejeezuz out of other teachers who will shape up in order to not lose their jobs.  Wrong.  Most teachers, especially the good ones, are not motivated by money or threats.

3.  When you start with a brand new staff, it will establish a new climate and higher expectations for the students and better test scores.  Where has this been proven to happen?  Not by a paltry few percentage points, but by significant and honest progress?  Not Fenger High in Chicago, not Markham Middle in Los Angeles (teachers there weren't fired there, but 50% of staff lost jobs in July 09's reduction in force, and 8 months later they are not fully staffed.)  Further, who will replace these teachers?  Arne, there is no magical line of teachers waiting to teach in the 'hood.

4.  Firing these teachers was wrong, even cruel, because you are removing what may be the only steady, consistent figures in the students' difficult lives.  Here at DFSC, we have seen this first hand.  We have seen the cruelty of having our next generation of teachers culled from our ranks, teachers who wanted to teach at LAAMS, who did it well, but in the end, were just numbers in an equation that couldn't be balanced.

But the public, fueled by the worst kind of "journalism" seen in recent times, and also suffering from the effects of this recession, want to see consequences.  So the firing is accepted.  The President applauds it.  And the students?  The students will be taught by teachers assigned to that school, some against their will, and who have no knowledge of the community and history of the school.

Hell hath no fury like students scorned.  New staff members at LAAMS, live with this every day, and its not pretty.

One last thought; at Bethune MS, also in South Central, the teachers would often be threatened with removal from the school if test scores didn't rise.  The joke in the faculty lounge was, "what are they (the District) going to do?  Send me to Bethune?"  For the Central Falls teachers, most will probably land in more affluent schools that have less challenging environments.  Supeintendent Gallo, you really showed them!
photo from www.uri.edu


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