One School's Teachers Get an F - for Fired

Central Falls, Rhode Island has long been among the state's most troubled school districts - one in five students live in poverty, reports CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod. Many struggle with English in this immigrant community - and that's just for starters.

"We lose 52 percent of our students between 9th grade and the 12th grade," Central Falls Superintendent Fran Gallo told Axelrod. "They don't graduate."

Eighty-eight teachers at Central Falls High School could be terminated. Teachers are rallying for their jobs, anticipating the vote for a mass firing.

The teachers' union is also fighting back with a video on its Web site, featuring upset students at a recent school board meeting.

"We have teachers at the high school that have grown up in this community," said Jane Sessums of the teachers union. "That's what education at Central Falls is about - and what they're planning tonight will set that back and ruin it - and it's horrible for our students."

To remain eligible for some extra federal aid, the district had a choice - draw up a plan to improve with the existing teachers or fire the faculty and start over. The two sides tried to work out a plan -- a longer school day, extra teacher training -- but it fell apart when the two sides couldn't agree on how much more the teachers would be paid for their extra time.

"This has to be the saddest thing I've encountered in my 30-some years of education," Gallo said.

If the district's plans survive expected court challenges, the teachers will be out of their jobs at the end of the school year. The last thing the students want are any more disruptions.

"It may be them. It may be us," junior Stephen Cleveland said. "We just don't what the problem is, but I think the issue needs to be resolved and it needs go be resolved now."

The teachers and the school district appear to be digging in for a three-month battle that will only add more challenges to a school district that can't afford any more.


  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" and a national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" and other CBS News broadcasts.

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