School Talk

It Can Be Done

Central Falls School Staff with Superintendent Victor Capellan 

There is a famous saying by George Bernard Shaw that many in the education reform community like very much and there is a city in Rhode Island putting those words into action every day.

“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” 
-George Bernard Shaw

Central Falls, Rhode Island was once famous for being the city where all the teachers got fired on the same day. Well today, it’s a city that is uniquely agnostic about school type and totally committed to finding effective ways to educate its children. They have a big hill to climb in terms of getting their students where they need to be and they are committed to tapping into any and all opportunities to do it.

The Center for Reinventing Public Education (fondly known as CRPE) just published its city summary on the Central Falls District Charter Compact and the news is good. It’s official rating is “mature”, just one away from the top rating of “embedded.”

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In 2011, the now former Superintendent Fran Gallo took the bold step of entering into the compact and her successor, Victor Capellan, has not only moved forward with her vision but gone even further with it.

Long after exhausting the 2011 collaboration grant, this tiny school district not only continues to collaborate with the charter sector, but consistently pushes the boundaries on what is possible in ways that much larger and more charter-friendly cities have been unable to do.

Sadly, as in many states, anti charter bills will again be part of the legislative session in Rhode Island. Those who sponsor and vote for them are precisely the ones George Bernard Shaw had in mind when he spoke of interruptors. They are willing to interrupt the good work happening in schools that serve their very own constituents because union pressure and money in an election year matter more to them than closing achievement gaps and giving parents options for their children.

Keep up the great work, Central Falls. You and your partners are proof of what can be done on behalf of kids and families when the adults put aside the district versus charter nonsense and commit instead to working together.

What do you think?

One thought on “It Can Be Done

  1. Great commentary about the willingness of people to work together. Moreover, we must now start to ask for equity so that ALL students have opportunities and choices. As of today the traditional middle school in Central Falls (Calcutt) serves close to 200 students which represent 25% of their students who have an IEP; however, one block down the street (serving exclusively the same city), Segue has 12% of their students that have IEPs. It is unfair to segregate students based on academic achievement (and based on the chi square test, these averages are NOT due to random chance, in other words they are statistically significant differences = the two-tailed P value equals 0.0006)- we know the results are of this endeavor (just look at the history of special populations and Native Americans). We also know the benefits of inclusion (everyone wins – there are tons of research that support this)! We have to do better! By the way, this data is available for every publicly funded school in RI:, [go to families and then student characteristics].

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