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Brad Harrington

Central Falls High School: "Fire 'Em All"

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CENTRAL FALLS HIGH SCHOOL: "FIRE 'EM ALL"

By Bradley Harrington

“The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.”

—H.L. Mencken, “The American Mercury,” 1924—

If you’ve ever taken a look at the shoddy excuse that passes for “education” in our public schools, and ever thought that the solution might just be to “fire ‘em all,” then you’ll love Rhode Island’s State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist:

“It was her [Gist’s] Jan. 11th order to overhaul the state’s six lowest-performing schools that triggered the chain of events leading to last week’s decision to fire the entire teaching staff at Central Falls High School, effective at the end of the school year.” (“Teacher unions challenged in unprecedented face-off,” The Providence Journal, Feb. 28th.)

The actual firings, enacted by the Central Falls school Board of Trustees in a 5-2 vote on Feb. 23rd, have created a storm of controversy and have been denounced by the labor unions: “’This is immoral, illegal, unjust, irresponsible, disgraceful and disrespectful,’ said George Nee, president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, ‘…and we’re not going to put up with it.’” (“Every Central Falls teacher fired, labor outraged,” The Providence Journal, Feb. 24th.)

You might not have any choice, Mr. Nee—for the legality of this operation has been approved by no less authorities than the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and President Obama himself, both of whom offered, back in January, states a new weapon to fix their broken schools: “All the approaches the federal government is pushing are extreme,” the article continues, “and have been used in failing schools throughout the country: school closure; takeover by a charter or school management organization; transformation which includes a longer school day, among other significant changes; and turnover which removes the entire staff, with no more than half rehired.”

Now if you want to talk about “immoral, unjust, irresponsible, disgraceful and disrespectful,” then let’s talk about the very public schools themselves, which have been overrun with a hotbed of teach-by-rote, look-say, “self-esteem” training and a tidal wave of other brain rot geared much more toward indoctrination and the obliteration of the conceptual faculty than it is to any kind of “education”—but don’t ever expect a labor union to support the idea that rewards should be based on performance.

And, it bears mentioning at this point, the “turnover” option opted for by Gist and school Superintendent Frances Gallo was not their first choice: originally, both had advocated the “transformation” alternative—but changed their minds when “union officials said they were willing to make the changes but wanted to be paid for more of the extra work, and at a higher rate of $90 per hour.” So, once again, a greedy labor union sows the seeds of its own destruction. Who says “there ain’t no justice”?

Completely ignoring union greed and poor teacher performance, however, Jane Sessums, president of the Central Falls teacher’s union, said: “We have teachers at the high school that have grown up in this community. That’s what education at Central Falls is about.”

Funny, I always thought education was about learning to read, write and perform simple arithmetical operations, as an absolute bare minimum—yet, at Central Falls, the article continues, “Only one in 10 can perform the math expected of them. Just 55% read at grade level. More than half drop out, ill-equipped for good jobs or the opportunity to better their lot.” And this is what Sessums believes merits rewarding? You have got to be kidding. What would you do with the staff of a restaurant that was only competent enough to deliver a glass of water to 10% of the patrons who ordered it, over half of whom proceeded to walk out?

And, therein lies the root of the whole problem, which “charter” schools, “transformations” and “turnovers” can help with but only temporarily ameliorate: the fact that we have public schools at all. The long-term solution to the disasters of our “educational” system, which functions as little more than tax-supported propaganda-camp day-care centers, is to remove the government from its operations completely through the “transformation” of privatization.

Then, and only then, will you see the free interplay and accountability of free competition on a free market work its wonders, just as it does with shoes, refrigerators and a million other sectors of our economy.

Think Duncan and Obama might have any interest in that?

--

Bradley Harrington is a former United States Marine and a free-lance writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

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A high school student called Limbaugh during last week's Open Mic Friday segment. I didn't hear everything she said but the bottom line was that one of her humanities teachers told her class that competition stifles innovation. "What color is the sky..."

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I heard something recently, might have been on Limbaugh, that a lot of schools have altered the grading scale so that an A is no longer a score of 90-100%, but is instead 85-100%, and a B is 70-85%, etc.

Has anyone else heard of this, or know how common it is? I forget what they called it, "adjusted grading" or something like that.

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Very interesting news. Keep up the good work Brad. Sorry to see you leave HPO, but that is their loss.

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I heard something recently, might have been on Limbaugh, that a lot of schools have altered the grading scale so that an A is no longer a score of 90-100%, but is instead 85-100%, and a B is 70-85%, etc.

Has anyone else heard of this, or know how common it is? I forget what they called it, "adjusted grading" or something like that.

That can also be a good thing - it could indicate tests are harder. In Cambridge University a first class grade (the highest available) is 70%, and in some subjects 80% gets you the starred first (given to one or two students a year). Some law schools in France actually have a class average of 8/20 with the highest grade ever achieved being 14/20.

If students can routinely achieve close to 100% on tests, then the tests are not hard enough.

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Very interesting news. Keep up the good work Brad. Sorry to see you leave HPO, but that is their loss.

Hi Arnold:

Thanks! And, as far as HPO is concerned, it was high time. The intellectual caliber of this site is far superior, and much more appreciated. Stay tuned!!

With Regards,

Bradley

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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CENTRAL FALLS HIGH SCHOOL: "FIRE 'EM ALL"

For anyone with an interest...

http://thebulletin.us/articles/2010/03/05/...b2636177802.txt

With Regards,

Bradley

timeforeverymantostir@yahoo.com

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“The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.”

—H.L. Mencken, “The American Mercury,” 1924—

Holy heck do I know what he was talking about. Born in a government hospital, go to government schools, work for the government, retire using government pension. Cradle to grave.

From what I know, yours is a Big Government. But ours is all-permeating. Fascio-socialism is an apt description of our system.

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