The blue-and-white banner exclaiming "anticipation" on the front of Central Falls High School seems like a cruel joke for an institution so chronically troubled that its leaders decided to fire every teacher by year's end.
No more than half those instructors would be hired back under a federal option that has enraged the state's powerful teachers union, earned criticism from students, and brought praise from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and some parents.
The mass firings were approved by the school district's board of trustees Tuesday night after talks failed between Superintendent Frances Gallo and the local teachers union over implementing changes, including offering more tutoring and a longer school day. The teachers say they want more pay for the additional work.
You want to know the problem? Here is the problem.
Central Falls High School has long been one of the worst-performing in Rhode Island. Just 7 percent of 11th graders tested in the fall were proficient in math. Only 33 percent were proficient in writing, and just 55 percent were proficient in reading. In 2008, just 52 percent of students graduated within four years and 30 percent dropped out.
More children live in poverty in Central Falls, a city of just 1 square mile, than anywhere else in Rhode Island. Until recently, one of the city's few growth industries was a quasi-public jail.
....During a rainstorm Wednesday, four boys sprinted from a side door on the high school, then ran down a driveway. One of them, Christian Manco, 15, said there was a walkout of students in support of their teachers.
"Honestly, it's not a good idea," he said. "The school wants them to work more hours for no extra pay."
His friend, Patrick Shirt, 15, stuck up for the school - especially after he advanced from freshman to sophomore year despite having switched schools and dropped out for a portion of the year.
"I felt kind of happy because I didn't have to go to summer school," he said. "They still passed me."
That is why they fired the teachers to start anew. You want to talk about the school being a family? Fine but the fact the school did not succeed in graduating students means its a dysfunctional family.