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Archive for February, 2011

As parents whose children attend and who are committed to Providence public schools, we wish to express sympathy with our teachers in this time of uncertainty. We understand teachers’ anxiety upon receiving dismissal notices effective at the end of this school year. We value our children’s teachers and we respect teachers’ rights to belong to a union and to engage in collective bargaining.

As parents who are also taxpayers, we wish to express our understanding for Mayor Taveras and his administration, for Superintendent Brady, and for the Providence School Board members who are grappling with a $40 million school department budget shortfall and whom we believe have not taken this action lightly.

We understand that 1,926 teachers have not been fired, nor will they all be fired. We understand that the notices to dismiss are effective as of the end of the school year. We understand that the vast majority of the dismissals will be rescinded once the school budget has been completed.

We respectfully urge all of our teachers to maintain their professionalism in this challenging period so that the best conditions for teaching and learning in the classroom can be upheld. We urge that adults discuss and resolve these issues in a civil manner outside of the classroom in a way that models for our children the way we would wish them to behave.

We agree with Mayor Taveras that transformational reform is required to significantly raise the quality of education in Providence. We face severe budget constraints and hard choices. Everything is on the table, from teacher terminations to school closings. We ask that every budget decision prioritize students’ educational needs.

To this end, while we respect seniority and believe it should be one consideration in hiring and firing decisions, we oppose teacher lay-offs, terminations and reassignments based solely on the basis of seniority, which leads to “bumping.” We are heartened by reassurances given by Superintendent Brady at his meeting of 2.24.11 with the Providence Parents Advisory Council that teacher reassignments will be made according to the criterion-based interview hiring policy.

We urge that in the event of school closings, the integrity of school communities be honored as much as possible and that students are redistributed to other schools in a way that respects each school building’s capacity and the resources of the building. We do not wish to see class size increased beyond the current limit of 26 students.

We recognize that the budget-making process is broken. We urge the Rhode Island General Assembly to amend the state law (Section 16-13-6 (b)) mandating that teachers be notified by March 1 of each year that their contracts may not be renewed the following school year. The school department budget is not finalized until July or August, and teacher salaries and benefits comprise 85% of the Providence school department’s budget. We urge the General Assembly to bring the notice to notify teachers that their contracts may not be renewed in line with the budget submission deadline, perhaps aiming for both processes to occur by May or June of each year.

While we face a difficult future, we remain heartened by the commitment, dedication, and integrity of parents, teachers, administrators, policy makers, and elected officials in their resolve to find a fiscally responsible, equitable, and fair solution to this crisis that ensures that our students learn and thrive in the highest quality schools.

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Text of an email message sent today to Linda Borg, education writer for the Providence Journal:

Hi Linda;

Once again, parents (and students) have been left in the dark. It is obvious that the School Department is not going to let 1900 teachers go. These lay-off notices maximize the School Department’s flexibility in dealing with transformational reform and upcoming budgetary mandates, but where does that leave our school communities?

Parents are very worried that lay-offs could trigger seniority-based “bumping”. We were given the promise of criterion-based hiring, and have watched as teachers were assigned positions based on certification, performance, and merit, rather than seniority. We have been building stronger school communities over the past 1-2 years. ESPEC is completely opposed to bumping, whereby teachers who receive lay-off notices are permitted to “bump” less senior teachers (many of whom were specifically hired to fill positions because of their qualifications and “fit” for the position) and take their jobs.

We are disheartened that the needs of students and school communities may be trumped by inability to fix a process that has been broken for years. Criterion-based hiring is now beholden to a court ordered mediation process. We have been left in the dark as to when that process will come to a conclusion, or what the results will be.

We ask the School Department, School Board and the new Taveras Administration to issue a clear statement that teacher lay-offs and reassignments will be made based on the needs of the students, and not on the seniority of teachers. Parents demand protection for their students and school communities. We cannot go back to a seniority based “bumping” process. Providence’s new criterion-based hiring policy hires teachers according to their qualifications and best fit for the students. Providence should adopt a criterion-based lay-off and reassignment policy. Hiring and dismissal decisions should always be based on our students’ best interests.

The ESPEC Steering Committee

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The Providence City Council Education Subcommittee of the Finance Committee will be holding its first hearing on the Providence Teachers Union contract next Thursday, February 17 at 4:30 pm at City Hall.

The hearing is open to the public, and all are welcome to attend.

Superintendent Tom Brady, Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith, and School Board President Kathy Crain have been invited to make presentations on what their goals are for the renewal of the Providence Teachers Union contract, which will expire in August. The Education Committee is creating a “wish list” of items concerning the contract, and would like to hear from the parties who will negotiate the contract in order to help improve their suggestions.

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Vartan Gregorian is seeking a coordinator for a school-based humanities project:

Coordinator Position
Job Description

The I WAS THERE Project is a highly integrated Oral History Arts-Based Learning program that strives to preserve and celebrate the history of Fox Point, Providence, Rhode Island.

Founded in 2008, The mission of The I WAS THERE Project is to use oral histories and the arts to engage students at the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School at Fox Point in learning about the history and life of their school, the Fox Point community, and the natural environment that surrounds them. I WAS THERE connects our students with the greater community through public presentations, the Faces of Fox Point photo exhibit and IWT blog forums.

At Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, we believe the historic, artistic and social knowledge we gain from involvement to The I WAS THERE Project (IWT) and Faces of Fox Point is invaluable. The use of the arts and humanities as tools to access the ideals of honoring diversity, past generations, and the changing face of a vibrant neighborhood is central to the purpose of these projects.

Coordinator Position Job Description:

The IWT Coordinator plays an integral role in the program, and has the benefit of having hands-on experience in all areas and phases of IWT. The Coordinator acts as a liaison between the many individuals and entities that make up the I WAS THERE Project including teachers, principal, artists-in-residence, community partners, oral history interviewees, and the IWT project directors.

The Coordinator will assist in scheduling of meetings; preparation and carrying out of written, e-mail and phone communications; attend meetings; assist with project documentation and IWT archives; and technology coordination. The Coordinator will check in weekly with the IWT Project Directors to communicate on status of project and to prepare for upcoming work.

The Coordinator will also assist in the planning, preparation and implementation of IWT’s first Teacher’s Institute to be held over a period of three days in the summer of 2011.

The position averages up to ten hours per week. Schedule is flexible, but applicant must have availability during some school day hours (9:00 am – 3:00 pm). Position begins immediately and runs through July 2011.

Visit The I Was There Project blog at: http://www.iwasthereproject.org to learn more about us.

Please send cover letter and resume to IWT Co-Director, Wendy Warlick at wendyjanewarlick@verizon.net

Deadline to apply is: Monday, February 14th, 2011.

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Annual Nathan Bishop PTO and Alumni Fundraiser

TONIGHT!
Tuesday, February 08 from 07:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Location:
Mill’s Tavern
101 North Main St. Providence, RI 02903

Please join us for our Second Annual Fundraiser to provide support for school programs such as the Science Olympiad, the Basketball team, Battle of the Books and others.
Hors d’oeuvres will be served. A free glass of wine or beer for the first 120 to rsvp.
Suggested donation is $25 or more (but any donation, big or small, is acceptable and most appreciated).
Send your payment to the school or mail to:
Attn. NB PTO “Mill’s Tavern”
Nathan Bishop Middle School
101 Sessions St.
Providence, RI 02906
checks payable to NB PTO

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