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AFL-CIO backs R.I. teachers against Obama

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AFL-CIO backs R.I. teachers against Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at an America's Promise Alliance education event in Washington on March 1, 2010. President Obama announced new steps to improve the nation's schools and cited the Alliance, founded by former secretary of State Colin Powell, as an example of a partnership organization dedicated to improving the lives of America's children and youth. UPI/Mike Theiler | License Photo

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I., March 3 (UPI) -- The national AFL-CIO has condemned the firing of all teachers and support staff at the high school in one of Rhode Island's poorest communities.

The labor organization's executive council, in a unanimous resolution, also said it was "appalled" by support from the Obama administration for the Central Falls school board, the Providence Journal reported. Both President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have backed the firings.

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The board voted to terminate the entire staff at Central Falls High School after negotiations on new working conditions, including a longer school day, failed to produce agreement with the union. Teachers received notices last month that they would be fired at the end of the year.

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist identified Central Falls and four Providence schools as the lowest-performing in the state, a requirement for applying for a federal education grant. Gist and the teachers union agreed to "transformation," one of four choices under the Obama administration's rules, but Central Falls Superintendent Frances Gallo and the union were unable to agree on the details.

Removing the entire teaching staff and rehiring no more than half of them is another alternative allowed by federal regulations.

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