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Mass teacher firings are not the answer

WASHINGTON - March 26, 2010 -

In the most drastic and punitive reform option to turnaround low-performing schools, school districts are firing entire staffs in Central Falls, R.I., Savannah, Ga. and Oak Hill, N.C. The National Education Association believes these actions are the beginning of a disturbing trend.

The following can be attributed to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“First Central Falls, now Savannah and Oak Hill—mass teacher firings are a disturbing trend that will take communities across this country down a dangerous road. NEA is committed to transforming our nation’s struggling schools, but this method is short-sighted and could have disastrous outcomes for students.

“Communities are desperately clamoring for much-needed resources for real school transformation. And in the process, they are sacrificing the very people who passionately care and give their best under the most difficult circumstances.

“The federal government should mandate that educators, administrators and management collaborate to determine what they are going to do differently to help students succeed. Currently, the government defines success based on No Child Left Behind’s flawed, one-size-fits-all measurement. Administration policies that were written to assist students in failing schools are now being used to punish teachers. Teachers are being asked to be accountable, yet they do not have a voice in making decisions regarding the allocation of resources and programs that will transform our schools. The means to measure academic achievement should be pro-child, not anti-teacher. 

“Firing and faulting teachers may seem like an easy fix, but it’s an approach where no one wins, especially our students.  Band-aids don’t stop a hemorrhage.  Schools need resources for real, transformative solutions.  We need real fixes that will benefit students today and decades from now. Real reform is community-based, comprehensive and collaborative. Real reform is sustainable reform, the kind that lasts past the politics and the promises. Real reform makes great public schools the permanent heart of the community.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Ramona Parks-Kirby  (202) 822-7823,