Censored Student Finally Allowed to Speak

Posted March 1, 2010 by thatsrightnate
Categories: Chicago Board of Education, Chicago Youth Initiating Change

Tags: , , ,

CORE passed out Yes/No signs at the Board meeting where Shantell was silenced

[Operation Push allowed Shantell Steve to deliver a speech after the student who was honored by President Obama earlier this year was censored at the Chicago Board of Education meeting this past week and it was reprinted by Substance News. If you’re not reading Substance, you’re not getting the real story of what’s going on in the Chicago education scene.]

Good morning everyone, I would like to take the time to thank Jonathan Jackson and Rainbow PUSH for inviting me and actually allowing me to speak.

As some of you might know, on Wednesday [February 24, 2010], the Chicago Board of Education invited us to be honored and then decided that Kellina Mojica and I were too dangerous to be allowed to speak to the people of Chicago. Because on that the day they had already planned to vote to close 8 schools and they knew we would tell the truth about this terrible process. In a way, they are right — truth is dangerous to people doing wrong. Kellina and I were at the board to be recognized for our work to promote a democratic society so it was especially ironic to be silenced. So I would like to share some excerpts from that speech.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated that “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice”. I have lived this meaning over my four years at Julian High school. I have worked with different social justice groups like Jaguars for Justice and Chicago Youth Initiating Change to promote strong student voices in our community and education in general. I have advocated for peer-to-peer mentoring and teacher-student mentoring as an alternative to punitive interventions for so-called “at-risk” students. Most of all I have fought for student and community voice in the reforming of our schools — opposing Renaissance 2010 and its closing and turning around of schools against the wishes of our communities and the betterment of our educations. In our experience Ren2010 disrupts schools and takes away the heart of what school is all about—our relationships with teachers.

Our work has been successful in some areas but in others we are still fighting for change. We have made great strides in promoting student voice and improving our individual school. While we have been calm and truthful with the board, they have ignored our voices and continued on their path of injustice. It made me rethink the Dr. King quote: I thought, maybe sometimes to bring true justice, you not only have to endure tension, you have to bring tension to the situation. If they are too comfortable, people with power will not allow justice to flourish. Many people see a good student as playing by the rules, but my activism has shown me that we can’t bring justice unless we decide what’s right and move forward—even as resistance. What good is doing what you are told when the people telling you are sabotaging neighborhood schools all around you?

The Board often refers to first section of the Board Meeting as the “Good News Section”. As if the community section is the “bad news” section. But the only people who truly know how to improve community education are us, the students and the communities who have been long neglected. So we must join together to bring some serious positive tension and demand the implementation of justice in Chicago education. After all, that’s what this recognition is about—helping remind those in power that our schools belong to all of us.

In the end, I hope the board is right. I hope that us raising our voices is critically dangerous to them. These 8 schools must be saved and if the Board is too cowardly to act against the mayor’s wishes, then we must join together to make it tense enough to stop these turnarounds and closings. That would be the best news of all for our Chicago democracy.


Solving Chicago’s Billion Dollar School Debt

Posted February 28, 2010 by thatsrightnate
Categories: Budget Crisis, Chicago Board of Education

Tags: , , , ,

The French Market benefited greatly from TIF money

About a decade ago, my financial outlook was really bleak.  I had gone back to school and financed a middle class lifestyle on a part-time retail job selling comic books and credit cards.   The result was between student loans and credit, I owed about $36,000.   I dug my way out of the big hole in a couple of ways.  I traded in a life insurance policy that was no longer needed and picked up a quick $4,000 that was immediately spent paying down the debt.  I stopped using my credit card and I paid cash for everything.  I set a budget for everything I spent and I started saving for things a year ahead of time.   Christmas savings began December 26th and I was able to cover vacations and big expenses without using the credit card.  I brought down my debt despite paying for a master’s degree because I really took a look at my books and saw where I was wasting money.   That was the key to spending cash.

There’s now a big battle brewing in Chicago because Ron Huberman has announced that the schools are nearly a billion dollars in debt.   Teachers are outraged because this story is right on the tail of a Tribune report showing that Huberman had not one, but two company cars.   Taxpayers are outraged because they feel that the district went into debt paying for the teachers.  They’re both wrong.

Thanks to Renaissance 2010 and the inept inaction of the Chicago Teacher’s Union’s Marilyn Stewart administration, there are now less than 30,000 members in the Chicago Teacher’s union.   That means if every teacher in the city took a $30,000 pay cut you still couldn’t pay off the debt.  There’s also the issue of pension.  As the Tribune put it, “The pension’s status is the result of many factors. A steep market decline, a large chunk of new retirees and years of the district making no contribution at all have left it about 74 percent funded. State law requires the pension to be funded at 90 percent, and the district is now facing steep payment increases to catch up.”

It’s hard to blame pension costs for the budget when you haven’t been paying your contribution.  Likewise, Ron Huberman doesn’t have a one billion dollar car.   What he does have is an awful lot of people that he brought over from the CTA that he is now paying over $120,000 a year too.   Bureaucratic waste has skyrocketed during the Huberman administration.

Ben Jovarsky from Chicago’s best investigative newspaper The Reader comes up with much better places for the budget axe to fall, “Huberman and his aides also might want to look at cutting back on contracts to outside vendors (about $696.6 million has been set aside for that) and trimming a few of the extraneous central office divisions, like the Office of Autonomy. I’m not sure who it’s autonomous from—certainly not Huberman or Mayor Daley—but it has seven employees and an annual budget of $1.4 million.   …. And then of course there are the …TIF slush funds controlled by the mayor, which aren’t itemized on property tax bills. Last year alone, the TIFs siphoned about $250 million in property tax dollars out of CPS’s supposed share.”

So assuming Huberman could cut 30% of the budget on outside contractors and the central office tightens its staffing and Daley gives back the TIF money I think we can safely project about $500,000 in savings.   The rest can come from one simple item in the budget.   As CORE member Xian Barrett pointed out when speaking to Operation PUSH this year, “Look at CPS’ own budget which this year boasts a $422 million increase in ‘Other Charges’.”

Of course this is Chicago we’re talking about.   The latest rumor I heard was that they would ask teachers to work 15 days without pay and give them one week of paid vacation instead of two.   This is basically a 10% salary cut.  A 10% salary cut should cover about half of the money that Daley has deprived the schools of through his TIF scheme.  How has that money been used?  According to Jovarsky, “n recent years, the CDC has approved $35 million in TIF money to help United Airlines move into new offices downtown, $6 million to help MillerCoors do the same, $8 million to lure the French Market to the Ogilvie Transportation Center.”  I guess a city needs to have priorities.

Honored by Obama–Silenced by the Chicago Board of Education

Posted February 25, 2010 by thatsrightnate
Categories: Chicago Board of Education, education reform

Tags: , , , ,

Yesterday, I completed my transformation from observer to activist when I spoke at the Chicago Board of Education meeting where they cast a cowardly vote to close or overhaul six Chicago Public Schools.  The day began at 4AM.  I won’t pretend to be a modern day Joe Hill–part of the reason I was up early was to tidy up for my cleaning lady.    However, I was on the 5:38 downtown where I stood for 2 hours in line so that I could get a chance to speak to the board.   It was a long and exhausting day and the local NBC affiliate interviewed me so I got a quick shot of fame with my friends and coworkers.  It was a sad event though seeing people who fought so hard for their schools being closed down.  There was, however, one amazing moment.

Shantell Steve was recognized by Barack Obama in a speech earlier this year, “And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.”

I read an the comments in the Sun-Times story about Shantell and one idiot said, “We all know that being an “honor” student at a Chicago Public School is akin to being a special ed student at a suburban school.”  Not only would very few suburban students be able to make it in this girl’s circumstances.  Very few city kids could either.

Shantell and Kellina Mojica were recognized by the Board at the beginning of the meeting for winning second and third place in the Democracy in Action Awards, which are citizenship awards given to high school students.  The Board had told them that they would be speaking at the meeting, but suddenly pulled  a switcharoo and instead called on the honorary student member of the board who was given an award by the Dusable History Museum to speak for all 3 students.

The problem is that both Kellina and Shantell are powerful speakers as well as students at Julian High School.  They have seen first hand how destructive the board’s turnarounds have been as the students unwanted by the turnaround schools have been shipped off to Julian.  Shantell and Kellina were going to speak about closing schools and the board knew it, so they muzzled them.   The Board has always been irony challenged, but this goes above and beyond the call of hypocritical behavior.     As Linda Lutton of WBEZ put it, “The board has a pretty good idea of what they’re going to say, and they’re gonna talk about school closings, because they have before, and I was sitting at the meeting thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re gonna get off to a fiery start.’”

Fortunately there was help.  Carol Caref like me is a CORE member.  She’s a very petite white haired woman who has a calm and gentleness to her that belies the kind of strong willed patience that can stop a tank.   She was called on to be one of the last people to speak on a day where many people expressed their anger at the board. Carol was firm in a showdown with Board Vice-President Clare Munana.

Finally, Carol prevailed and a tearful Shantell took the microphone.   Even at her young age, her activism has taught her exactly what was going on.   The Board knew how she felt, saw the CORE button she was wearing, and tried to censor her.  She told the Board that she had lived through the turnarounds and knew the kind of destruction that they caused first hand.   She told the Board how she felt  “disrespected” by being invited to speak — but not allowed to speak. “They all talk about ‘children first,’ but when a student got up to speak, they wouldn’t give the student a minute.”

It’s pretty amazing when a mutli-billion dollar organization like the Chicago Board of Education shows such fear of  a couple of high school girls.   I was once terrified of high school girls, but I was a high school boy at the time.   These girls are amazing speakers, but I guess in Chicago the only thing we have to fear is free speech.

Judgment at Central Falls Part 4

Posted February 21, 2010 by thatsrightnate
Categories: Eli Broad, Teacher Tenure, Teachers Unions

Tags: , , , ,

Like a sinister villain in a pulp novel, Eli Broad is the unseen hand behind the destruction of many urban school districts

[Continued from Part 3]

On April 2, 2009 Rhode Island hired Deborah Gist to be their Education Commissioner.   Gist was hired from Washington DC where she worked with Michelle Rhee in a similar capacity.   Another thing that Gist and Rhee have in common is a connection to Eli Broad.  In 2007, Gist was accepted into the infamous  national educational leadership program run by the Los Angeles-based Broad Center.  Where public education goes, Eli Broad has his tentacles reaching into dozens of school districts across the country wreaking havoc along the way.  He is the unseen hand behind the most destructive forms of school reform being perpetuated on the children, parents, and teachers of this country.

I am a supporter of President Obama.  I voted for him, I worked for him, and I contributed to his campaign, but I have always known his education policies would be a neo-liberal recipe that people like Newt Gingrich could campaign for, but that true progressives would be unhappy with.  His Race to the Top plan has encouraged states to do destructive things that will have long ranging and detrimental effects on the future of education in this country for years to come.   It is being administered by Joanne Weiss who is another disciple of Eli Broad.  Rhode Island’s approach to Race to the Trough was to mandate one of four possible remedies for schools with low test scores:

  • Remove the principal and change curriculum
  • Close down the school
  • Do a turnaround plan where the teachers are all replaced
  • Bring in a charter school to take over the school building

What’s sad is that absolutely none of these four strategies work.  There is conclusive evidence that the turnaround model does not improve student achievement that was released by the University of Chicago this Fall.  Charter schools score lower than their public school counterparts despite cherry picking top students.  When those schools are forced to administer a school in an urban setting without getting rid of the students, you get a disaster like the Green Dot schools in Los Angeles.

Central Falls High School teachers negotiated their contract using collective bargaining.  It was supposed to last from September 1, 2008 to August 31, 2011 when a new contract would be negotiated.  It was in this environment that Superintendent Frances Gallo made her demands of the Central Falls teachers:

  • Adding 25 minutes to the school day (unpaid)
  • Eating lunch with the students once a week (This  is lunchroom supervision.  Policing a couple hundred high school students eating lunch is actually a difficult job)
  • Having a formalized before and after school tutoring schedule (According to the students, the teachers are already doing this.)
  • Attending weekly after school data management meetings with other teachers for 90 minutes(unpaid unless Gallo can “find” some money)
  • Two weeks of training in the summer (Paid at $30 per hour)
  • A new evaluation procedure, which would be more rigorous, but which was unspecified.
  • An unwritten 7th demand is that Gallo wanted to be able to fire 1/5 of the teachers, “If I could change 20 percent of the teacher population, I believed I could make a significant change in the culture of the high school.”

The union not surprisingly did not concede to these demands.  There was a time when a contract was worth something and the union didn’t particularly care for the idea of being forced to roll over for non-negotiated demands imposed on them by a superintendent that they already distrusted.   Gallo continued to issue demands and ultimatums and the union held firm.  The result is that they were all given pink slips.

This can happen at any school district in this country and in fact does.  A new breed of administrators are coming to the schools with little or no education background and teachers lose their jobs.  Education policy is being written that hinders rather than helps education by state legislators who haven’t been in a classroom in 30 years.  Some people will take comfort in seeing a union crushed.  However, it is ultimately the kids who suffer.   I have no doubt that Central Falls will be able to replace these teachers with new young teachers who are enthusiastic and work for less money.   However, they won’t have the trust of the kids, they won’t have experienced mentors who know the community to aid them, and they won’t have an administration that values what they do.  A judgment is being made at Central Falls, but it is not on a union that wouldn’t budge, it is on a system that disregards the life’s work of so many people and the education of the children that they have sworn to educate.

Judgment at Central Falls Part 3

Posted February 20, 2010 by thatsrightnate
Categories: education reform, Failing Schools, Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

Central Falls Police Sgt. Wayne Solan carries a shotgun at the main entrance of Central Falls High School

[Continued from Part 2]

It was a wet Rhode Island Monday April 28, 2008 when Maida Lopez entered Central Falls High School.   There were already over 40 parents in a chaotic jumble in the main office trying to find their children so they could bring them home from school for the day.   The city of Central Falls has big city problems.  In the 1980s, it was called the cocaine capital of New England, but it was still a postage stamp size town of just over a square mile.   Over the weekend, two teenage boys had been shot and killed including 16-year-old Central Falls student Edelmiro Roman who was found unarmed at the corner of Dexter and Darling Streets, possibly in retaliation for the killing of a 19-year-old boy the night before.  This is life in Central Falls.

I won’t paint the town as overly bleak.  Like anywhere in America, the vast majority of the people here are hardworking and trying to get by.  The town’s median income is only $22,000 and many of the residents are immigrants from all over the world.   Central Falls Guidance Counselor George McLaughlin says, “There is an odd sort of respect in that school for teachers.”  He points out that while kids will sometimes spout an obscenity at a teacher, they will put a “sir” at the end of it.

Central Falls High School has the most transient student population in the state, the highest percentage of students who don’t speak English and a high percentage of special-needs students. More than 90 percent of students live in poverty.  This isn’t to say the students aren’t capable, but when you grow up in this environment, you usually have more important things on your mind than who to ask to the prom.   Teachers are constantly adjusting and readjusting to classes that don’t end the year with many of the students who began the year.   Transient students are also far more likely to drop out and as a result Central Falls has had their graduation rate suffer.

Despite difficult circumstances these teachers are making a difference.   It simply isn’t in the political interests of the district to acknowledge it.   Disraeli is credited with the famous quote,  “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

When Superintendent Gallo points to standardized test scores that supposedly show Central Falls failing she doesn’t point out, on the 2009 NECAP reading scores (teaching year), Central Falls is right in the middle of the state’s large urban high schools. At 56% proficiency they are behind the lower-poverty ones (Tolman, 64%; Shea, 62%; Woonsocket, 60%), tied with The MET and Providence Academy for International Studies, and ahead of Central (51%), Hope Leadership (49%), Hope IT (47%), and Alvarez (44%) in Providence.

The Hope schools are of particular note since they went through a “fire the teachers” restructuring process a few years ago. There is no particular reason to expect the results of Central Falls restructuring to be any different.  Now, I don’t believe that standardized tests show you much outside of household income, but Central Falls ranking among similar schools is never mentioned nor is the fact that these same students at Central Falls only had 22% proficiency on the 7th grade tests, 5 years earlier.

Students at Central Falls do the same things that dedicated teachers in all urban districts do.   They help take over some of the responsibilities that would be taken care of by parents in more affluent communities–including providing clothing, food, and support when parents are unable too.  They make the best of a bad situation and they try and produce scholars.   Sometimes, the burdens are too much and they succeed only in producing solid citizens.   Sometimes, the best you can do is provide a safe place for 7 hours a day where a student can be warm and fed.   The teachers who can do these things day in and day out deserve respect and admiration.   Instead they usually get vitriol.   In the final part of this series, I will explain why Central Falls is so important to the future of education in this country.

[Continued in Part 4]

Judgment at Central Falls Part 2

Posted February 19, 2010 by thatsrightnate
Categories: Karen Feldman, Young Voices

Tags: , ,

Karen Feldman and Chace Baptista co-chair Young Voices

[This article is continued from Judgment at Central Falls Part 1]

As I detailed in the first part of this story, an organization called Young Voices made up of students from Providence came to Central Falls to protest on behalf of the administration and their right to fire the entire faculty at Central Falls High School.  The amazing thing to me is that none of these students attended Central Falls or had any experience with the faculty there.   Could you imagine the uproar if  people found out that the Tea Party Protesters were all from Canada?   or that anti-war protesters were brought in from Mexico?  I do know that in Iran, they beefed up the pro-government rallies by bringing in people from Lebanon.

Now, I will not put down these students for their age.   High school students do deserve a voice in their education and in their communities.  I’ve been fortunate enough to protest with CPS students whose schools were in danger of closing.   I’ve listened awe inspired to members of Students for Social Justice who spoke with a righteous indignation over a system that wasn’t serving them.   I got chills down my spine as I heard high school student Kellina Mojica demand, “we have a voice and want to be heard…whether you like it or not.”  I’ve also seen how the adults in their organization let the children take the lead.  That doesn’t seem to be the case with Karen Feldman and Chace Baptista who seemed to do most of the talking to reporters.

As I watched a news segment on the protest, I was overwhelmed at the central message of the rally, which was that this was a systemic problem and wasn’t about the teachers, but that the system wasn’t taking the needs of children into account.   I then had to ask myself, how better to make that point then by siding with the management responsible for the system in their battle to replace the teachers who must cope with the same system on a daily basis?

Some of the protesters said that they no Central Falls students were protesting because they were scared of retaliation from the teachers.  I’ve seen Chicago students barge into City Hall to demand to use the computers because the city still had their library closed and they couldn’t apply for college without computer access.  I’ve seen them picket at the board of education and speak out loudly and forcefully.  However, the equally passionate Central Falls students evidently are worried about recrimination from lame duck employees if they come down and support management.   Who do they really think their kidding?

As I looked at the Young Voices website I noticed several interesting things.   The first one was that their main goal was setting new evaluations for teachers that took into account student feedback.   I’m of two minds about this.  I really value student feedback on my own teaching, but I could definitely see this leading to pandering.   If I had to evaluate police officers, the guy who let me off on a speeding ticket with a warning is going to be the best and eventually the cops will quit doing their jobs because it hurts their evaluations.   I still think there is probably a middle ground that gets student voices heard.   They also some very big on doing away with seniority rights.   Unfortunately, they fail to grasp the very real danger that school districts will simply keep the youngest and cheapest teachers instead of the best ones.   Currently, a crafty principal can bend those rules to still keep a great young teacher if they want to.

What is interesting though is that an organization that seems to care so much about the process used to retain and to fire teachers has decided to support simply firing them all.   They also seem to be determined to ignore the student voices at Central Falls while imploring everybody else to listen to the students.

The other big thing I noticed is that Students for Social Justice operate outside the system where they can agitate for the change they believe in.   Young Voices seems to be the Future Establishment Club.   With partnerships with Merck, Trimix, and Providence City Hall, Youth Voices shows that those young voices don’t have to fight for change.  They can just as easily fight for the status quo.  Next, we’ll look at the school environment.

[This article is continues in  Judgment at Central Falls Part 3]

Judgment at Central Falls Part 1

Posted February 18, 2010 by thatsrightnate
Categories: Education, Firing Teachers, Teachers Unions

Tags: , , , ,

I have no intention of making this blog an apologist for everything that teachers or their unions.   I’ll admit that like all professions teachers have their own bad apples.   However, when I see a lot of people lose their jobs and every news source in America applaud their firing, I feel obligated to dig just a tad further.   Such, is the case of the mass firing of the entire 74 member faculty and administration at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island.

The facts were spelled out in a very tidy little email that was sent out to many blogs by “Jason”.   Here’s his email:

As I’m sure you’re aware, Rhode Island has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

Central Falls is one of the poorest towns in the state. It looks like the pictures everyone’s seen of Detroit or Flint. There are lots of boarded up windows, abandoned buildings, decrepit factories with broken windows, etc. It’s an absolutely depressed community. According to Wikipedia, the median income in the town is $22k.

Teacher salaries at the high school average $72-78k. Apparently 50% of the students at the school are failing all of their classes, and the graduation rate is also under 50%. In an effort to turn the school around, the superintendent requested some changes be made whereby the school day would be slightly extended, teachers would perform some extra tutoring, etc.

The union balked and refused the terms, so now she is firing the entire teaching staff of the high school and replacing them. This is yet another example of unions digging their own graves by refusing to negotiate or accept reasonable terms. Sentiment is on the side of the superintendent, at least among the folks I have discussed the issue with.


Jason was apparently very busy.  His email was printed in Mike Sheldock’s Global Economic Trend Analysis which then was used by pundits in the media to bash the lazy teachers.  I love the irony of a writer using a nearly anonymous email, which credits Wikipedia as a source in an attempt to decry anybody else for being lazy.  Let’s face it, there are a lot of letters in http://www.google.com.   At first, I had a hard time even finding the article because the first source I saw was Mark Whittington who is working very hard to put the Ass  in Associated Content.  While bemoaning the lazy teachers and their bloodthirsty union, he can’t even get the name of the town right.   After all, as teachers they must be lazy and as union members they must be blood thirsty.

Are the teacher’s lazy?  Well, to start at let’s look at the school.   I dug up the NECAP results for the school.   To begin with, I don’t find standardized tests to be the best indicator of teaching.  Alfie Kohn and others have shown with very thorough research that other than measuring parental income, they aren’t terribly useful.  However, I kept hearing about how terrible the test scores were and decided to look for myself.

In 2005-2006 the 7th grade students who fed into the high school achieved the following results on their 7th grade NECAP test for reading:

0% – Proficient with Distinction
22% – Proficient
36% – Partially Proficient
42% – Substantially Below Proficient

In 2009-2010 when many of those same 7th graders had moved to 11th grade, they achieved the following scores:

8% – Proficient with Distinction
47% – Proficient
29% – Partially Proficient
15% – Substantially Below Proficient

I didn’t cherry pick that data.  I looked at reading because math is really limited to one or two classes a day, while most classes impact a student’s reading skills.  I chose the years I chose because high schoolers are tested in 11th grade and that was the easiest way to track the same group of students.   There are some flaws in this methodology, but the evidence is pretty overwhelming that when you go from 22% proficient students to 55% proficient students in 5 years, you’re making amazing progress.

I do put more stock in what the students and their families have to say, let’s take a look at who was quoted in the newspapers:

“They are very sweet,” said André Monteiro, 19, a senior. “They help us out and get the job done. They treat us with respect.”

“It’s not fair,” said Angela Perez, who has a daughter at the high school. “They shouldn’t be punished because the students are lazy.”

“The teachers care so much,” said Perez’s daughter, Ivannah Perez, a recent Central Falls graduate. “I’ve seen them stay after school. I’ve seen them struggle. It’s the students. They don’t want to learn.”

“It’s sad,” said Jessica Lemur, another senior. “They stay when we need help. They love us. I was shocked when I heard the rumors.”

Those quotes are from the Providence Journal, but it still doesn’t stop the majority of the comments below the article from complaining that the teachers are lazy and don’t care about their students.

“What you are doing is wrong,” said Kelyn Salazar, a junior, said. “After all they have done for us, it’s not fair. They are pushing me to reach my potential. As a freshman, I didn’t care. Now, I’m an honors student.”

“Very seldom have I heard students say how much their teacher demands of them or how hard they have to work,” she said. “When my daughter was in eighth grade, she was told that she could become a hairdresser. I asked her, ‘What about becoming a professor, an engineer, a teacher?’ They never mentioned those.”

Of course, 8th grade isn’t in high school so I have to wonder if the child is more intelligent than the parent.  Even the Providence Journal pointed out that, “Perhaps the most vocal opponents of Gallo’s plan were the students, who couldn’t understand why Gallo was taking away the teachers they loved.”

So all the students were supportive of the teachers, right?  Shouldn’t that count for something?   Not all the students backed the teachers.  A group of 20 students held a protest supporting the firing of the teachers.   They were part of Providence’s Young Voices–a group that is backed by groups like drug company Merck.  They’re from 5 miles away from Central Falls and though they’re not from the town in question, they’re two handlers shrewdly got them on camera.  The students’ conclusion?  We don’t know these teachers personally, but we’re sure they’re lazy.   They will be the focus of Part 2 of this little morality play.

[Part 2 continues with a look at Young Voices]