Archive for March, 2011

We applaud the West Side Public Education Coalition’s (WSPEC) asking tough, important questions of the Providence Public School Department. These relate to demographic changes in the South and West neighborhoods of the city, and the need for school seats in these areas. These are found at their website:


These follow on the heels of a recent article in the Providence Journal which points out that an increase in the (predominately Hispanic) population in Providence helped our state retain a Congressional Seat.  See the following article:


WSPEC is also asking some serious questions about the decisions which led to the proposed school closings:



We are aware that everything is moving too fast. The School Board needs to make a decision by April 25th, so the Mayor can propose a budget by May 1st. We recognize that this deadline will allow the city to more rapidly determine which teachers will have their termination notices rescinded, and support that. While working to comply with these deadlines, we call upon the City and School administration to answer the community’s questions and concerns in a timely and satisfactory manner.


We ask that the Providence School Board be confident of the following before they cast any binding votes:

1.    Are you confident that the schools you are moving children into are educationally adequate? If not, do funds exist to bring them to a level of educational adequacy?

2.    Are you confident that a proper place has been found for each child displaced by the proposed closings? Mr. Jones had announced that kids would be distributed to schools that generally are closer to their homes and higher performing. Has that been modeled? Could School Board members and parents see maps similar to the Providence Plan maps used to justify the school closings, showing how children will be redistributed? How will parents be involved in the placement decisions? Is a plan in place to allow parents to request, or if necessary, contest, a placement?

3.    Does the recommended closure plan provide a margin of flexibility beyond the stated capacity studies? For example, will the projected closures and reassignments permit enough space in the remaining buildings to continue important programs that currently exist in schools that are absorbing new students? Will the influx of students into other buildings force the closure of art or music classrooms, or other special services that are currently offered in those buildings? Will an influx of students substantially alter best practices, positive school cultures, or utilization of space in the schools that are absorbing them? Is there space in each building to accommodate a strand of children who can move through the building over time to graduate from the school? Will the new configuration provide some flexibility for anticipated demographic changes over the next few years?

4.    Have all options been considered? Would a K-8 configuration in some buildings better suit the children’s and neighborhood’s needs? Could a step-wise approach be taken over the next 2 years? Are there other models not yet considered which could address the community’s desires about building utilization?

We also ask the following questions of our elected and appointed politicians:

1.    Why are all students in Providence on the short end of the (financial) stick compared with children in other Rhode Island communities?

2.    Why isn’t the new funding formula able to help maintain adequate educational facilities for all of our children in all of our neighborhoods?

3.    Are there other City services/contracts/projects that could be altered so as to provide additional sources of financial support to our schools?

Under-funding our schools is under-funding our future.

All of our elected politicians should be working to answer these questions and help to provide a positive outcome for our students in this time of financial need!


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Public Hearing on the Providence Teachers Contract

Providence City Council Education Subcommittee of the Finance Committee


5:00 PM


Aldermans Chambers, 3rd Floor

25 Dorrance St.

Downtown Providence, RI 02903

The Providence Teachers Contract is up for renewal this year, and needs to be renegotiated and agreed by August, 2011.

The provisions of the contract effectively determine education policy for Providence Public Schools.

The School Department and the Providence Teachers Union negotiate the terms of the contract, and the City Council needs to give approval. The City Council’s Education Subcommittee is holding hearings on the Contract, providing an opportunity for parents and taxpayers of Providence to ask questions and express opinions and ideas.

The Council would like to hear about YOUR experiences:

Would you like a longer school day, or a longer school year?

More afterschool options for your children?

Have you had difficulty trying to meet with your child’s teacher? Would you like annual parent-teacher conferences to be required?

Are you worried about the potential return of seniority “bumping”?

Are you concerned about teacher quality and effective teaching at your school?

Would you like teachers to receive a pay raise? How can we incentivize and reward effective teachers?

Would you like daily recess for children to be required?

Would you like substitute teacher reforms?

What changes and improvements would YOU would like to see in Providence Public Schools?

Giving public comment at a hearing is simple and easy — you just show up and take a turn speaking at the microphone for a couple of minutes, expressing your experiences or questions and/or ideas, and then you are done.

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Theater lives at Hope High School.

See information about a performance of the play “Triangle” at Hope High School tonight, Friday 3/25/11 at 7:00 PM:


WSPEC is coordinating an organized walk of West Side parents, children and residents to Classical High School tomorrow morning to continue their discussion with the school board about proposed school closings and re-purposing, and student reassignments.

More information is posted on their very cool new website at:


We wish them good luck.

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I’ve recently come across two articles in the Projo that suggest that finger-pointing is once again occurring as parents in Providence try to support their public schools.

In an article about West End Schools, I found the following comments:


““We deserve to have a Vartan Gregorian Elementary School here,” said one parent. “We deserve the same quality schools that they have on the East Side.””

“Thursday, several residents said the neighborhood’s stability would be seriously undermined if the School Department fails to create high-quality schools as it has on the East Side, which boasts a newly renovated Nathan Bishop Middle School and two high-achieving elementary schools.”

In an article about a Parent Forum held yesterday at the John Hope Settlement house, I found the following statements:


•XX XX, a parent, talked about making improvements to all city schools, not just East Side schools.

XX said later that schools like the Vartan Gregorian Elementary School in Fox Point have more resources, more programs, than schools in other neighborhoods.

To set the record straight, I offer the following:

First, regarding Vartan Gregorian. Vartan was all but unknown to East Siders 10 years ago. What it did have was Site-Based management (which several schools throughout the city had), a visionary principal, and a dedicated cadre of teachers. The PTO was all but non-existent. East Siders started to learn about this school, and as more decided to send their children to the school, the PTO grew, and worked in a collaborative fashion with the teachers and Principal. If you see a wonderful school, it reflects the communal interest and investment in the school, and NOT anything in particular offered by the Providence Public School district.

Martin Luther King has always had a small cadre of dedicated East Side parents. King also had a wonderful principal, and dedicated teachers. Over the past five years, as interest in public education has grown, so has the involvement of the community in the school. Again, this school does not receive a dime more per child from the school district than any other school in the city.

Nathan Bishop was a school in chaos. The SALT surveys dating back to 2002 had detailed a failure of leadership and education. The school had been all but abandoned. When the city choose to close this school, a small group of East Siders, realizing that this was the ONLY Middle School in the neighborhood (e.g. on this side of numerous highways), and that a continuum of public education was important for our children, banded together to fight for the reopening of the school. That this happened at all was really a matter of timing. The national recession started shortly after the renovation occurred.

To the comment that the City is only making improvements in the East Side schools, I offer the following facts. Vartan Gregorian was built in 1954. Martin Luther King was built in 1959. Neither has undergone ANY significant improvements. Yes, $35 million was spent to renovate Nathan Bishop, but this was the FIRST SERIOUS MONEY SPENT ON THE EAST SIDE SINCE 1959. In fact, ALL of the Providence Public School district’s efforts over the past 10 years went to building schools in other neighborhoods:

Alvarez                         Built 2007

Bailey                            Built 2000

Carnevale                    Built 1999

Central                         $40 Million Renovation 2008

Cooley                          Built 2004

Delsesto                       Built 1998

E-Cubed                       Built 2004

Fortes                           Renovated recently

Lima                             Built 2002

PAIS                              Built 2004

PCTA/Hanley             Built 2009 $90 Million

Woods                           Built 2004

Young                            Built 2004

Today I attended the Rhode Island Music Educators Association All-State concert at Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium. Over 90 schools from throughout the state were represented. Hundreds of children participated. As best I could tell from looking at the program, three (yes, three) were from Providence Public schools. These children participated not because they received support from their schools, but because their parents found a way to get them represented.

SO, instead of parents finger-pointing at each other or sniping about other schools in Providence, perhaps we should all work together to support the following goals:

1. A PTO in every school.

2. Community and neighborhood engagement for every school

3. A funding formula that adequately supports all of the children in Providence, and helps to provide them with the resources that children in other schools in Rhode Island have.

4. A union and school district that considers and includes the involvement of parents (who in fact pay for and consume the services) in decision-making.

I would also make a plea to journalists to fact-check their quotations rather than just printing them verbatim. While these types of comments may make for good press, they can be self-sustaining, are divisive, and accomplish nothing toward building a better community for our families and children.

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Are you a Providence public school parent, high school student, educator, or a Providence taxpayer who cares about public education?
Share ideas, get involved and make a difference!

Parent and Community Forum on the Providence Public Schools

Sponsored by: Providence Public Schools Parents Advisory Council (PAC) and BetterProvidence www.betterprovidence.org

Saturday, March 19, 2011

9:30am – 12:00 noon

John Hope Settlement House

7 Thomas P. Whitten Way (off Westminster St.)

Providence, RI 02903


Enter front parking lot off Westminster St.,

or back parking lot via Thomas P. Whitten Way off Cranston St.


Parents and community members will identify and discuss our

education priorities, and how can we be better engaged in our schools

and partner with our schools and the School Department to improve the

quality of education for our kids.

Your voice will be heard!


Providence Mayor Angel Taveras will outline his education agenda and priorities for Providence public schools.


Superintendent Brady will provide the most updated information from the Providence Public School Department.


Free and open to all

Spanish and Hmong translation services


Free childcare

Please call in advance to reserve childcare: 401-456-0686

For further information, please contact: ProvidencePAC@gmail.com or 401-456-0686

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The Rhode Island Blood Center is conducting a

Blood Drive at the Nathan Bishop Middle School

on Friday, March 18, 2011, from 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM.


All members of the community are welcome to participate.



Nathan Bishop Middle School Gymnasium

101 Session Street

Providence, RI 02906


Give Hope. Give Life. Give Blood.

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A todas las Personas que toman decisiones de pólizas en la educación en Providence:

Yo apoyo el tener maestros/as de alta calidad en todas las aulas.  Muchas veces, el maestro/a con mas señoría es el mejor para la posición, pero no siempre es así.  Yo creo que la decisión de contratar o de despedir maestros, debe ser basada en la efectividad del maestro/a y de la necesidad de los alumnos y NO basada solamente en señoría.

Por favor, no permita que continúe el sistema que permite que maestros con señoría tengan prioridad absoluta en el sistema de Providence (lo que se llama “bumping”).  Bumping es destructivo para nuestras comunidades escolares y es deprimente para nuestros estudiantes ya qué maestros con señoría tiene la prioridad de “Bump” o remover, a maestros con menor señoría sin tener en cuenta la efectividad o merito del maestro con menor señoría, ni tener en cuenta la necesidad del estudiante.

En esta crisis fiscal, no podemos poner en riesgo la calidad de la educación de nuestros hijos.  Las necesidades educativas de los estudiantes siempre debe ser lo principal.


The East Side Public Education Coalition


Queridos amigos:

Sindicatos locales y nacionales están preparando el lanzamiento de una campaña publicitaria de $1 – 2 millones en Providence para proteger su sistema de señoría ahora que se han despedido a todos los maestros.

El Alcalde Taveras acaba de anunciar el cierre de 4 escuelas.  Cerca de 200 maestros/as no serán contratados nuevamente para el próximo año escolar.

Si sistema de reclutamiento basado en señoría, permitiría que 200 maestros/as con mayor señoría puedan tener prioridad sobre mejores maestros con menor señoría de otras escuelas. Esto causaría un descontrol en todas las escuelas de la ciudad, y tendría un impacto negativo en la calidad de enseñanza y aprendizaje.

URGENTE: Haga un “click” en este link que lo llevara a una petición para el Alcalde, el Superintendente, la Junta Escolar y Oficiales Electos para expresarles su apoyo para que las maestros sean contratadas BASADAS EN LAS NECESIDADES DE LOS ESTUDIANTES, y no basado solamente en la señoría del maestro/a.




Mas detalles:

El Sindicato de Maestros de Providence cree que los maestros deben ser contratados o despedidos basado en solamente en la SEÑORIA; por ejemplo el maestro/a que ha enseñado por más tiempo siempre tendrá prioridad.   Despido por señoría quiere decir que cuando se despide a un maestro/a, ellos pueden sacarle la posición a otro maestro/a con menos señoría — sin importar la efectividad o calificación del maestro/a, ni la necesidad de los alumnos.

El Alcalde Taveras, la Junta Escolar de Providence, y la Comisionada de Educación Debora Gist apoyan contratar y despedir a los maestros/as basado en las NECESIDADES DE LOS ESTUDIANTES, por ejemplo el maestro/a que es mas calificado para enseñar a los alumnos a los que está asignado a enseñar, siempre deberían tener señoría.  Los años de enseñanza es un factor importante en determinar la capacidad del maestro, pero no debería ser el único factor.


El Comité de Educación Pública del “East Side”

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