Archive for October, 2007

School Board Nominating Papers

Want to serve on the Providence School Board?  Applications are available now.  The deadline appears to be either  Nov. 9th or Nov. 12th (there is conflicting information on different sites….I’d plan on the 9th).

Here’s the official notice:

The School Board Nominating Process is underway. Please find relevant dates and information below.

School Board Nominating Commission:
Phoebe Salten, Chair
Dr. Warren Simmons
Guy Pirolli
Ramon Martinez

Application Process: Individuals interested in applying to the School Board may download one from the City’s Web site at http://www.providenceri.com or a hard copy may be picked up at City Hall, Office of Neighborhood Services, 25 Dorrance Street, 2nd Floor, Providence, Rhode Island or The Providence School Department, Central Office, 3rd Floor, 797 Westminster Street, Providence, Rhode Island.

Dates for your calendar:
· Application deadline is November 9th.
· The Public Forum will take place on Thursday, November 15th at 6:00PM. Location: Public Safety Complex, Auditorium 325 Washington Street, Providence, Rhode Island

·          School Board Application
·          School Board Job Description

School Board Job


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Julia Steiny on Bumping

In the “credit where credit is due” department, it should be noted that the Sunday before our public meeting, Julia Steiny had a piece in the ProJo which prominently featured criticism of bumping. Steiny begins by noting that RI schools recently had a rather poor showing in the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) scores:

 In all four tests — math and English taken by both 4th and 8th graders — most states saw considerable gains. Rhode Island was one of only a few that experienced a decline in a test score; 8th grade reading went down two points. And the gains on the other tests were so modest that overall, Rhode Island fell a bit further behind the national average, which is a bar rising with other states’ successes.

As to bumping:

The one fly in this ointment is the teacher who, through no fault of her own, is no longer needed because enrollment drops or a program ends. Historically, these teachers — called “consolidated” — begin a process of “bumping” less senior teachers out of their jobs, thereby pushing a teacher off a potentially strong teacher team. That bumped teacher pushes the next least senior teacher out of her team and so on. It takes time to forge good teams and relationships, and a teacher who doesn’t like the school’s philosophy can cause tons of trouble. End this. By law, schools should only have to guarantee the consolidated teacher a permanent substitute teaching position and no more. A terrific teacher will land a better job soon enough. Bumping is outright destructive…. Bumping and needlessly changing teacher teams are the sorts of distracting, pointless friction that drag hugely on NAEP scores.

I’ll just note that it appears to be the case that bumping occurs even without enrollment dropping or programs ending, due the budget process detailed below.

Steiny also promotes several other ideas, including greater principal control over staffing, which is an aspect of the site-based management plan that the Bishop Committee has urged for that school.

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Each month, ESPEC steering committee member Sam Zurier writes a column on education for the East Side Monthly. In the most recent (October) issue, Sam’s article is the cover story. It is a review of, and “report card” for, three East Side schools. excluding Nathan Bishop, of course. Also included is Classical High School, which is attended by many East Side children.

Pick up a copy of East Side Monthly next you’re out shopping, or read the article on-line here

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Bumping Graphic

As noted in an earlier post, the process of “bumping”, by which each year many teachers of moved out of the jobs without regard to qualification or performance, was a major concern of attendees at last night’s meeting. The process that leads to bumping is complicated, and is closely tied to the budget process. ESPEC Steering Committee member Harlan Rich investigated how bumping occurs and developed this powerpoint slideshow to graphically illustrate the process. I know I found it very helpful. Here’s the link: Bumping Graphic Depiction

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The Next Event

As you heard, if you attended last night’s meeting, we’re planning another event for next month:

East Side Public Education Coalition
Open public discussion
Thursday, Nov. 15.
Community Meeting Room, Rochambeau Branch of the Providence Public Library

The ESPEC steering committee is holding an informal gathering for those who would like to discuss ways in which we, as a community, can work together to promote and improve public education on the East Side and in Providence generally. What issues should we be focusing on: state funding for education, contractual issues, the City’s facilities plan, curricular issues, building stronger parent/citizen engagement? Should we work with other groups, work to create a city-wide public education coalition? What are YOUR ideas? How would you like to contribute?

NOTE:  It’s not really necessary to wait for the meeting.  Feel free to comment right here.

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Last Night’s Forum

We had a great turnout for last night’s forum. Eighty-five to ninety people came to hear East Side members of the City Council and General Assembly answer questions from the audience about the future of Providence Public Education. Many thanks to our panelists for their willingness to appear and take questions.  ESPEC steering committee member Michelle McKenzie did a great job as moderator.

I encourage attendees to post your reactions in the comment section below.

The forum covered a number of topics, from funding to consolidation of school districts, to after-school programs, but things really heated up when the question of “bumping” of teachers was addressed. Each spring, large numbers of Providence teachers are laid off because the funds to pay their salaries are dependent on state budgets which are not approved until June. Priority is given to senior teachers. Newer teachers, often highly talented and successful, are displaced. The process appears to be very wasteful because, when funds are approved the majority teachers are hired back, but they often return only as long-term substitutes with uncertain futures, or as “permanent” teachers with the prospect of being bumped again next year. Some teachers are hired away by other districts before Providence has a chance to hire them back, and others give up. The story was told of an extremely talented high-school science teacher who was bumped twice, and eventually went elsewhere.

Panelists responded to the audience’s concerns over the disruption and loss of talented teachers caused by bumping by indicating that they would be willing to introduce legislation to limit or end the practice. The ESPEC steering committee plans to continue research on the problem and to work on shaping a legislative solution. We hope the community will assist by giving your input as well.

Here is a link to Linda Borg’s story in the ProJo.

Update: And here is a link to the Brown Daily Herald Story.

We have both audio and video of the meeting. After some editing work, we hope to post them for those who missed the meeting,

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Innappropriate Blog “Comments”

Several you have noticed that, occasionally, we get a fake “comment” here that turns out to be a link to some web site, typically pornographic.   I apologize that this has happened. The blog software tells me that it has blocked more than 15,000 of these, but some get through.I delete them when I see them, but I don’t always get them right away.    If it continues, I’ll turn comment moderation on, which means there will be a brief delay between the time you post your comments and the time they appear.

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