Mass. Educators Welcome at Central Falls Rally on Thursday, March 4

Educators in Central Falls, R.I., are holding a rally in West Warwick, R.I., at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 4, to protest the continued “dismal” situation there following last week’s firing of all of the teachers and several professional staff members at Central Falls High School.

The rally will be held at West Warwick Senior High School, 2 Webster Knight Drive, West Warwick, R.I. According to information provided to the MTA on Wednesday, March 3, by AFT Massachusetts, the Central Falls teachers would welcome union members from Massachusetts to join them in solidarity at this rally.

The 93 high school staff were officially notified of their dismissal on February 23, effective as of the end of the school year. District officials say they plan to hire back no more than 50 percent of those fired. The decision to fire the teachers was made after a standoff over new hours and working conditions that the district sought to impose at the “underperforming” school, which is located in a low-income city north of Providence.

Last week, MTA President Anne Wass described the firings as “union busting” and said, “We offer our heartfelt support to Central Falls educators, whose reputations have been damaged and livelihoods threatened.”

Governor Patrick addresses firing of Central Falls teachers: "I can’t see it happening here."

Governor Deval Patrick says he does not foresee a move similar to what happened in Central Falls, Rhode Island, last month – where all teachers were fired at an “underperforming” school – occurring in Massachusetts.

“I can’t see doing what was done in Rhode Island – I can’t see it happening here in Massachusetts, to tell you the truth, or needing to happen,” Patrick said during a radio interview on March 3 on WTKK 96.9 FM, according to the State House News Service. “We've got a great education reform bill … and it gives us a lot of tools to intervene with a sense of urgency in the places where we’re just failing poor kids, mostly, or kids with special needs or who speak English as a second language, more often than not kids of color.”

The news service reported that Patrick added: “I think the reason we have an achievement gap – it’s not that teachers are the problem. Poverty is the problem more often than not.”

The move in Rhode Island was supported by Obama administration. “I love the president,” Patrick said. “We don’t agree on everything.”