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Press Release


March 2, 2010
Contact: Heather Reams

AAE Exposes Rhode Island’s 800-Pound Union Gorilla

Alexandria, VA – Today the Association of American Educators weighed in on the firing of almost 100 staff members, including administration, from Central Falls High School in Rhode Island late last month. The school is among the state’s worst performers in terms of student test scores.

The district superintendent was forced into the drastic option after the local union refused to accept an offer by the district that would pay teachers $30 per hour to help students after school. The union demanded an hourly payment of $90.

“It’s just another example of the dated, all-or-nothing model of union ‘negotiation,’” said AAE Executive Director Gary Beckner.

Because of Central Falls’ status, the school is required to adopt one of four reform models outlined by federal law: Transformation, Turnaround, Restart, and School Closure. The Central Falls Teachers’ Union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, rejected Central Falls Superintendent Frances Gallo’s proposed reforms as part of a Transformation Model, which would have prevented the mass firing. Gallo’s plan included teachers spending more time with students and attending training sessions.

“There is plenty of finger-pointing at district administrators, state leaders, and local teachers. Why are people missing the middleman?” asked Beckner. “It’s the union that is hurting its own members.”

After Gallo’s offer was rejected by the union, the superintendent was forced to choose one of the remaining models.. Rather than close the school, Gallo adopted the Turnaround model, which required all 93 teachers, support staff, and administrators be fired at the end of the school year. Even though the school board is permitted to rehire 50% of the former staff, the mass firing has caused a national uproar in the economically depressed town.

“The 800-pound gorilla in this small Rhode Island town is the union that professes to help teachers, but then ‘helps’ them right out of a full-time job,” said Beckner.

The Association of American Educators is the largest national, non-union, professional educators' association, offering an alternative to the partisan politics and non-educational agendas of the teacher labor unions. AAE does not endorse, support or contribute to any political cause or candidacy. AAE has members in all 50 states and welcomes professionals from all education entities. Membership is $180 per year.