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Archive for May, 2011

Jill Davidson’s companion piece to her recent blog post and article in May’s East Side Monthly has been published in the June edition.

This features six high school students who reside on the East Side; three attend Hope High School and three attend Classical High School. The stories shed a positive light on Hope, Classical, and the students, and will bring a smile to your face.

See the following link (June 2011 issue, starting on page 22).

http://www.providenceonline.com/eastsidemonthly/read.html

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NATHAN BISHOP MIDDLE SCHOOL

ARTS NIGHT

THURSDAY, MAY 19TH 2011

5-9 PM

We are part of Providence’s Gallery Night , so you can take the free Art Bus from downtown!
For information on parking and more, go to: http://www.gallerynight.info/galleries.html.
If you are not going to other galleries that night, you can park at school, of course.

NB’s Arts Night will showcase artwork created this school year by
over 300 sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students. Featured are selections from
Breathing as Drawing, Transforming Portraits, Typeface Design Posters, Word
Portraits, Our Own Dinner Party, Design Challenges, Where I’m Going sculptures,
Character Cards, Exercises in Perspective, Mythological Creature sculptures,
Narrative Ceramic Tiles, ceramic Drinking Vessels, and wire exercises in
Structure and Form, and Festival Ballet-inspired cut-out silhouettes.

There will be intermittent performances throughout the night by students,
including classical, hip-hop and break dance; violin, cello, drums, piano, vocals,
and other instrumentals.  A special performance by Nathan Bishop’s Build Up
the Beat group is scheduled as well.

Nathan Bishop’s Destination Imagination team won an invitation to the Global Finals! They collaborated on an Invention Challenge that includes storytelling, performance, music, and structural engineering. A table will be set up by the nurse’s office to gather support for their upcoming trip to Knoxville, TN where they will compete against other invention teams. Buy raffle tickets to win great prizes! Drawing at 8PM.
The NB Story Project student crew will be conducting interviews in the
principal’s conference room.  Project students interview our alumni and learn
about the diverse neighborhoods and individual life stories that are vibrantly
woven together through our school community.  We will exhibit some interview
materials, and interview alumni in attendance between 5-7pm!

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As an organization, we have not been as involved with, and at, Hope High School as I would have liked. Several ESPEC members did help Brown University and Hope High School students last year when they protested the changes made to the block schedule. And yet… it has been hard to argue with some of the points made by the school department regarding educational outcomes (specifically reading and math proficiency scores) and costs (said to be higher than those of other Providence high schools). One might argue though that the monies spent at Hope should be spent at all high schools, but the “return on investment” just wasn’t there.

As our neighborhood’s only high school, we are very interested in the outcome of any interventions that occur at the facility, and hope to see positive change. We have been disappointed by the frequent corrections that have been imposed on this school, which may not have been given time to work. The last reorganization seemed to lead to a much improved school climate. Teachers had “signed on” and were dedicated to the building. How can you run a smaller school without a dedicated administrator (hence, leading to the inauspicious closing of Hope Leadership). Hope IT must now be reorganized or closed. How is it possible in 2011 that we might be closing an IT “magnet” school, rather than trying to find out what didn’t work and working to make it right? Is IT the future for some of our students??

Frankly, we have been at a bit of a loss as to how to approach the problems at Hope from a neighborhood perspective.

Our good friend Jill Davidson has written more about Hope in her East Side Monthly piece, and on her blog. Clearly there is a lot of “good” at Hope, much of which the community at large is unaware of. We have successfully engendered support for our elementary schools, Martin Luther King and Vartan Gregorian, which are serving as feeder schools to our wonderful middle school, Nathan Bishop. Not all of the kids at Nathan Bishop will go on to Classical HS. Shouldn’t Hope be an option?

A link to Jill’s piece follows:

http://providenceschools.blogspot.com/2011/05/inspiring-hope-look-inside-hope-high.html

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The Providence School Department released its plan to rescind many, but not all, of the teacher dismissal notices that went out several months ago. A matching system has been designed that will primarily take merit into account when connecting teachers with positions. Teachers currently working for the system will have priority over teachers applying from outside. Positions not filled under this system will be filled via the Criterion-Based Hiring system, the details of which have not yet been finalized. Specifics are found in the press release, pasted below:

PROVIDENCE SCHOOL BOARD STATEMENT ON PLAN TO RESCIND TEACHER DISMISSALS

PROVIDENCE (May 3, 2011) – On May 2, 2011, the Providence School Board approved a plan for immediately rescinding letters of termination for 1,445, or nearly 75%, of teachers who received letters of termination this year. The plan also outlines a process for matching teachers who cannot be immediately placed (~370 teachers) with open positions available within the district.

The School Board sought to create a plan for rescinding letters of termination that is fair to teachers displaced as a result of the fiscal crisis facing Providence, while taking into account how best to minimize the disruption caused by school closures. This plan accomplishes that goal.

Earlier this winter, in accordance with a State Law that requires teachers be notified about their employment status by March 1, all Providence Public School teachers were notified that their positions could be terminated at the end of the current school year. The Providence School Board issued termination notices instead of layoff notices because layoffs may not have resulted in a significant reduction of costs. Termination enabled the district to retain maximum flexibility to deal with an unprecedented fiscal crisis, including a $110M City-wide structural deficit.

Out of an abundance of caution, letters were sent to all teachers. Decisions about how to rescind terminations noticed were contingent on plans for closing the school budget deficit, including the closure of schools.

Now that the school department knows which schools are closing and where additional teaching staff will be needed, it is possible to begin to rescind letters of termination. The plan includes the following conditions:

Under the plan proposed by school board, 1,445 teachers will immediately be sent letters rescinding their terminations. Teachers who will have their letters rescinded—thereby renewing their current teaching positions—include all teachers at schools not slated for closure (except Asa Messer/Messer Annex), teachers not being terminated for cause, teachers who have elected to retire and are legally obligated to retire as of June 30, 2011, and teachers not at transformation schools (schools identified in 2010 by RIDE as persistently low achieving).

Teachers at Asa Messer and Asa Messer are among the 1,445 teachers whose letters are rescinded because the Asa Messer learning community is being moved as a whole to the repurposed Bridgham Elementary School. All teachers from that community will be retained.

Under the plan there are ~370 teachers who will not immediately receive letters. This group will be invited to participate in a match process to fill available teaching positions across the district. This group includes teachers who are teaching at transformation schools and were not rehired, those teaching at Flynn, Windmill, West Broadway and Brigham Middle School, those who are currently in “forced placement’ positions from last year, or those considered as “R’s in Pool,” i.e., teachers whose positions were eliminated but they are now in the substitute pool. This process will not be unlike the selection process used to match doctors with residency programs.This plan mandates that any new or vacant positions be filled first by qualified Providence Public School teachers. Second, it allows displaced teachers to compete for open vacancies on an even playing field through an interview process that does not involve external candidates. Third, it empowers Principals to select teachers based on student needs in their buildings, not strict seniority, as mandated by RIDE’s Basic Education Plan. Finally, it focuses the process only on teachers whose positions are directly affected by school closings or program reorganizations and changes, aiming to minimize potential ripple effects by displacing as few teachers as possible.

The plan will put an end to the “R’s in pool” category, thus achieving significant savings for the city.

119 teachers will not receive letters rescinding their termination. These include teachers who are being terminated for disciplinary/performance reasons, had their certifications rendered obsolete due to subject reorganizations, or those who are holding temporary emergency certifications.

The School Board, PPSD and the City are proactively seeking a legal opinion confirming the legality of the plan. The Board today filed in Superior Court seeking a declaratory judgment on the plan in hopes of avoiding unnecessary legal delays.

How Teachers will be Rehired

 Teachers who are currently at schools slated to be closed, at Transformation schools, who hold one-year positions obtained through a forced placement, or whose status is an “R in pool” will be able to apply and interview for new vacancies through a ranked match process.

 On May 21 (tentative) in the PCTA Field House, Principals will meet candidates for a “Match event” from 9 AM – 4 PM.

 Teachers are encouraged to bring resumes and copies of two artifacts of teaching and will have the opportunity to discuss their qualifications with Principals.

 At the end of the Match event, teachers may submit a ranked list of all jobs for which they are fully certified, and Principals may submit a ranked list of all certified candidates for each vacant position.

 The Office of Human Resources will use the respective ranked lists to fill every vacancy for which an appropriately certified displaced teacher exists and notify teachers and Principals of assignments by May 26.

 All remaining vacancies will be posted for Criterion Based Hiring (CBH).  Teachers who do not receive assignments may participate in CBH for other positions in the district as

they open.

Mayor’s Statement:

“I recognize how difficult the last two months have been for teachers, students, administrators, parents and for everyone who is a part of the Providence Public School community. We are hopeful that the Board’s ability to rescind letters of termination for the majority of teachers will bring peace of mind to many of the City’s hardworking educators. I am confident that this plan strikes the right balance between being fair to teachers and being fair to students.”

Statement from Superintendent Brady:

“This plan to rescind teacher dismissal notices is a first step toward returning a sense of stability to our school communities. It keeps student need, rather than teacher seniority, at the forefront, yet recognizes the dedication and talent of the majority of our existing teaching staff. Through difficult times, we as adults who shape the lives of children owe it to them to work together to transform Providence Schools into the best educational system possible for our children.”

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Wonderful Teacher

With a special gift for learning
And with a heart that deeply cares,
You add a lot of love
To everything you share,
And even though
You mean a lot,
You’ll never know how much,
For you helped
To change the world
Through every life you touched.
You sparked the creativity
In the students whom you taught,
And helped them strive for goals
That could not be bought,
You are such a special teacher
That no words can truly tell
However much you’re valued
For the work you do so well.
– Author Unknown

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