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Archive for March, 2008

Summary: Legislation designed to keep our best teachers in the classroom by ending seniority-based “bumping” will receive a hearing before the Senate Education Committee at the State House this Wednesday, April 2 at 4:30 pm. We are looking for supporters to attend this meeting, and for people who have direct experience with bumping to testify. See below for details.

Our public meeting at King Elementary last October produced a spontaneous and vigorous outcry from many of you against “bumping”, the process by which senior teachers displace junior teachers, with no consideration being given to teacher quality or the needs of the students in the classroom.

At that meeting, Senator Rhoda Perry and House Majority Leader Gordon Fox both offered to introduce legislation to eliminate bumping. The ESPEC steering committee submitted a bill to each of them. The bill, which is patterned after current Massachusetts law, has the following goals:

1. Eliminate the provision of state law requiring that all layoffs must be done in reverse order of seniority. Under the bill, seniority could remain a criterion under negotiated contracts, but contracts could specify that merit be among the considerations.

2. Require that each district evaluate teachers, principals and administrators according to standards developed by the RI Department of Education, which may be supplemented by standards developed by district school committees. Currently, Rhode Island is one of a handful of states which do not, by state law, establish teacher evaluation requirements.

3. Allow principals to demote or dismiss teachers, subject to review by the superintendent of the district. The bill lays out the criteria for dismissal including the failure to meet performance standards, and preserves rights of appeal to the Commissioner of Education.

Senator Perry has introduced the bill in the Senate. The full text of the bill can be found here. We learned this weekend that Senate Education Committee is scheduled to take up the bill in a hearing beginning at 4:30 pm on Wednesday, April 2nd.

ESPEC steering committee members plan to attend the hearing and testify in support of the bill. We also have a few parents lined up who will speak about their experiences with excellent teachers being lost to bumping, but we are hoping to find a few more who can do the same. If you are interested in doing so, please email me.

Those who do not wish to testify, but would like to turn out to show support for this legislation, should meet in front of the library on the second floor of the State House at 4:15 on Wednesday. You should know that these hearings sometimes run for several hours, and we are not yet sure where on the agenda this bill will be placed.

Majority Leader Fox also submitted a bill to the House last week, but it is considerably different from the model we submitted. We are studying the bill and hope to discuss it with Leader Fox soon. We are not aware that any hearings have been scheduled on this bill.

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UPDATE: Here’s the press release from Mayor Cicilline’s office announcing the hiring of Tom Brady as the next Superintendent of Providence Schools, and a recently-posted ProJo article. It’s not entirely clear when he will start. Dr. Evans’ contract runs until September 19th. The Inquirer says that Brady will stay in Philadelphia until June.

The Providence Journal is reporting in its 7-7 breaking news blog:

Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline and School Board President Mary McClure plan to announce the school board’s appointment of a new superintendent today.

A statement sent from the mayor’s office says the new superintendent’s name will be announced at a 1 p.m. news conference in Cicilline’s office.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports as follows.

Interim Phila. schools CEO to head Providence, R.I., district
By Susan Snyder, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Tom Brady, the Philadelphia School District’s interim chief executive officer, will be announced today as the new superintendent of the Providence, R.I., school district, sources said.

Brady will remain running the schools in Philadelphia until early June.

He became the interim CEO in Philadelphia last June when Paul Vallas departed for New Orleans to run the public schools there. The Philadelphia School District earlier this month hired former San Francisco school superintendent Arlene Ackerman as its new CEO.

Here’s a 2007 press release on Brady, from the Broad Academy, from which he graduated.

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Hearings will be held tomorrow H-7577, a bill designed to prevent siting new schools on contaminated land. The bill has bipartisan support, and is co-sponsored by East Side Representative David Segal. I am not familiar enough with the bill to speak to specifics, but, according to a release from the group supporting the bill,

Cash strapped school districts across Rhode Island are building schools on contaminated sites, putting children and teachers at risk of exposure to harmful pollutants. This legislation consists of two reforms that would ensure that local school districts do not site schools on property that is contaminated by pollution left on the site as a result of former industrial or commercial uses:

If enacted several years ago, this legislation would have prevented the siting of schools such as the Carnevale Elementary and Springfield Middle Schools (built on the site of the former Providence City Dump) and the Adelaide Avenue High School (built on the site of the highly contaminated Gorham Silver Manufacturing Company).

The group has begun a CitizenSpeak campaign to make it easy to send email to representatives. http://stage.citizenspeak.org/node/1229

If you would like more information, you may email Alex Moore, one of the group’s organizers.

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provschools.gifThe School Board meets tomorrow, Monday March 24. Agendas for meeting are published on-line, usually the previous Friday, which means you really have to pay attention to know what’s going on. We might encourage the Board to post agendas sooner than the last minute required by state law.

Go to ProvidenceSchools.org, select “office…school board…dates and agendas” and click on the “eletronic school board”, which will pull up a calendar. Or, just go to http://www.providenceschools.org/pesb/ and find the calendar on the right hand side.

I’ve pasted in the agenda below the “continue reading” line.

The items that seem most immediately interesting are the Superintendent’s report, which includes an analysis of NECAP scores and an “adequate yearly progress update, the school calendar for next year, and a third-quarter report on corrective action for schools in trouble.

If you go to the website, you’ll find clickable links for the above items and more. I will add that I think the School Board has done a great job in the last year of modernizing its website and making information more accessible.

(more…)

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Tennis Anyone?

tennisball.gifThis is not education-related, but it does concern Nathan Bishop.

One of the benefits of the Bishop remodeling plan is that it preserves the tennis and basketball courts behind the school. These are not actually part of the school, but are managed by the City’s Parks Department. Those of us who played at Bishop last summer noticed that the courts have settled quite dramatically, leaving a large crack running across all the courts and making play difficult. (I do have to admit that I have found the crack useful on occasion as an excuse for missing a return).

Councilman Cliff Wood has been working with the City to get the courts resurfaced. He reports that the work will begin when the temperatures hit 50 degrees.  That can’t come too soon!

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More Art!

Many thanks to Nancy Safian, the Program Manager of RISD’s “Project Open Door” for passing along the information below. Note that this is a high school program, but they are interested in working with 8th graders. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have this at Nathan Bishop when it opens?

I am on your mailing list and I wanted to point you to a web site run by Project Open Door, RISD’s free after school art and design program for teens from Providence (and RI). The programs goals are to help art and design students develop high quality portfolios in preparation for art college. The program is led by graduate and undergraduate RISD students and professional artist educators. Project Open Door currently works with high schoolers only, but we have considered working with 8th graders as they transition to high school. The program is directed by Dr. Paul Sproll, Head of the Department of Art + Design Education.

Currently Project Open Door provides school-based free after school art enrichment classes at Hope High and Feinstein High School. Any students from the city’s public schools a interested in continuing their art and design training are invited to attend this program free of charge.

Here is the web link. It contains art learning opportunities for students: http://risd.digication.com/projectopendoor

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A sub-committee of the ESPEC steering committee is being formed to reach out to parents of prospective attendees of the new Nathan Bishop. Co-chairs are Kim Rohm, a parent and PTO member at King Elementary and Karina Wood, PTO president at Vartan Gregorian.

Karina and Kim will be looking for others who can help with this commitee’s work. 
Twenty-five people attended our February meeting for prospective parents at Dr. ML King Jr. Elementary. They, as well as others who have contacted us but could not attend the meeting, can expect to receive emails from the committee soon.

You can add your name to the list by emailing me.

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