Thursday, April 28, 2011

Providence School Board has voted to close/reorganize schools

I am not at the school board meeting but according to reports from those who are: the Providence School Board has voted to close all schools per city's recommendations. Plenty more will be said about this decision and its implications - for now, all I want to do is share the news. Update: ProJo report here.

Wait, that's not quite all. I also want to say that I am deeply angry that saving our city from financial peril requires reducing the quality of our city's schools and devaluing their teachers. Tomorrow, I'll wake up and stand with many others working to find the good in our situation, which will mean gathering the energy and anger of our city's parents, students, and educators and finding ways to improve our schools in the years and decades to come. We must do this. The alternative is throwing up our hands and turning our backs to our young people, and we cannot do that. I won't do it and I am proud to stand with hundreds and thousands of others who also refuse to give up on our ability as a society to prepare our young people for the challenges in their lives. The challenges we face are much bigger than the immediate budget crisis and the regrettable choice that the school board had to make.

Our real goal: to create and sustain schools that support all kids in all neighborhoods to use their minds well as they gain the skills they need to succeed in life as citizens, community and family members, and productive workers and leaders. I look forward to working with adults and young people across the city to identify the specific steps that will move us to that goal. We can and must do this because the alternative is unconscionable.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Words of praise and support for Providence teachers from Brown University faculty

Brown Professors Karen Haberstroh and Tim Herbert, who run the university's GK-12 science education program, shared the following letter with me for publication here. I'm grateful to be able to share their esteem and support for Providence's teachers, and enthusiastically concur. My own kids have benefited from the GK-12 teaching partnership; learning with Brown science fellows has been among the highlights of their school careers. Thanks, Professors Haberstroh and Herbert, for your commitment to Providence's students and educators, and for your words here.

You can click on the image below to see a larger version.

Okay, NOW mark your calendars.

From the PPSD website:
The Providence School Board will vote on proposed school closures at a meeting to be held Thursday, April 28 at 6:30 at the Providence Career and Technical Academy, 41 Fricker Street.
Due to a previous commitment, I will not see you there, but would dearly love any firsthand reports from those who will be there.

WRNI features dual perspectives on PPSD school closing timeline + our commitment to neighborhood schools

WRNI's Elizabeth Harrison has (separately) interviewed Mayor Taveras and Matt Gabor and Michael Udris from the West Side Public Education Coalition. Both are worth a listen to deepen understanding about the arguments about whether, how, and when to close public schools in Providence.

Gabor and Udris' argue that the proposed school closings will leave the West Side with no middle school. The same is true for Windmill Street Elementary School; its closing leaves the Charles Street area/the northern part of Providence with no elementary option. That the West Side's Bridgham Middle School and Windmill (not to single them out - the rest of this sentence applies many or most other PPSD schools) have ample room for improvement is obvious, and they will be able to build on their respective recent successes and recently galvanized neighborhood energy to continue to do so. However, to say that there should be no elementary or middle school options at all in various neighborhoods is ludicrous, as is suggesting that mileage alone determines that a school is a "neighborhood" option.

This is particularly true given Providence's actual policies and current rhetorical focus on neighborhood schools. We need neighborhood task forces to bring local understanding to bear on what is reasonably walkable. Our children cannot cross highways, walk through dangerous streets with poorly understood potential for gang-related violence, or be forced to negotiate dangerous intersections. And winter isn't yet a distant memory; just a few weeks ago, we were all picking our way through unshoveled sidewalks, icy intersection, and poorly plowed streets.We may well want walkable, neighborhood schools but even from a infrastructure-only point of view, we're not yet ready for them.

Had Nathan Bishop have remained closed in 2007, the greater East Side would not have had a middle school option. At that time, that seems inequitable and unfair, and that spurred me into action as an involved parent. I started attending ESPEC meetings, witnessed and assisted the process of working through the politics of reopening the school, and along with other parents, eventually joined PPSD's Nathan Bishop Task Force as a parent/involved citizen to collaborate with the city to plan Bishop's reopening.

Many speakers at last night's School Board meeting acknowledged that we may well need to close schools and make significant changes but that doing so now, with such haste and so many remaining known unknowns, would be wrong. Those changes, many of them said, should be done with significant, substantial input from neighborhood residents within a more reasonable timeframe to allow us to create a more workable plan. 

Though I acknowledge the financial pressures that are compelling the school closings and reduction in teacher force that will result, I too want to find a way to do so with clearer answers and more adequate preparation. Along with many others, I am eager to seize our collective energy and assets to identify and implement community-based, locally-driven ways not only to save existing schools when reasonable to do so but also to improve teaching and learning all of our schools and the system itself.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Strike that, reverse it. Back to: School Board vote on school closures delayed.

There's no sensible way to amend yesterday's post to make this clear: the announced Thursday 4/28 School Board school closure vote reschedule is no longer announceable as the School Board hasn't yet voted to reschedule on that date. Tonight's school board meeting is still happening, 6:30pm at PCTA, with a presentation about the school closings and, I believe, a decision about when the rescheduled school closing vote will take place.

We're back to Friday's news that the school closure vote date has been postponed. Unmark your calendars accordingly until such time that Facebook, semaphore, telegraph, or some other source shares that the School Board has rescheduled the vote.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

School Board vote on school closures will happen on 4/28.

Kathy Crain, PPSD School Board President, has shared via Facebook that the school board vote on school closures will happen on Thursday, 4/28. Tomorrow's 6:30pm school board meeting at PCTA includes a presentation on the school closures. I appreciate knowing that and am happy to share the info, though I wish that the district would do the same. The date of the vote should be front and center on PPSD's website. Not that there wasn't some communication about the meeting: last week, we and presumably all other PPSD families and staff members received three robocalls (actual robocalls! with a freaky robotic voice, as opposed to the usual recorded human voice) about the 4/25 meeting - just that there will be an "important meeting," though not any specific mention of the vote.

This article on Bridgham Middle School that ran in today's ProJo still has the vote happening tomorrow - no correction online, and no follow up story about the delayed vote.

At this rate, barring an effective effort tomorrow to get the word out, it's reasonable to expect that many people are going to show up at PCTA tomorrow expecting a vote.


Update! Thanks to additional Google research, I happily stand corrected about the lack of reporting on the School Board school closure vote delay in any mainstream media outlets. On Thursday night, April 21, ABC Channel 6 local news' 11pm newscast reported the City Council's vote to delay the School Board's school closure vote pending further investigation on the part of the School Board and a conversation between the board president and City Council members. Video from here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Next week: still busy, but no school board vote on closures.

Update to yesterday's post on next week's hot and heavy PPSD action: the School Board has delayed its vote scheduled for Monday, April 25 on closing schools. The posted school board agenda for that evening made that evident and School Board President Kathleen Crain just confirmed it on Facebook with this post:
Providence residents: The School Board has delayed the vote on School Closures so that we may review the information and data related to each school and make an informed decision. We will update you on the date of the vote shortly.
Good to have the delay confirmed, and I am gratified that the School Board is taking the time it needs to come to its best decision but what now? The city's budget needs to be established ASAP, and teachers need clarity about the status of their jobs. Families need clarity about their school assignments--all families, both those with students in schools proposed for closure or repurpose and those with students entering kindergarten, first or sixth grades citywide, assignments that the city is delaying until it can incorporate the students in those grades affected by school closures.

So, more questions. That said, late yesterday, PPSD share some answers by releasing its responses to a long list of questions posed by WSPEC, the City Council, and the School Board about the proposed closures that will be voted some undetermined future moment. Lots to discuss in the responses, will do in the next post. Click here for that document, in PDF form.

P.S.: Can't help but notice that all the big news (PPSD school calendar change to establish the last day of school, now this) is coming directly from Facebook--useful, but not the most adequate broadcast strategy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Keep those calendars out...get ready for a busy week.

You just typed in or wrote down the last day of school so your calendars are already at the ready. Keep them out to save the date for meeting after meeting after meeting next week that will have an impact on the future of Providence's schools.

Monday, April 25, 6:30pm-late. Providence School Board Meeting at Providence Career and Technical Academy, 41 Fricker Street. This is the meeting at which the school board will vote on the proposed school closures. This is not the meeting at which the school board will vote on the proposed school closures--more on that here. Agenda here.

Tuesday, April 26, 5:00-8:00pm. Providence City Council Education Subcommittee meeting, Providence City Hall, 3rd Floor. This is one of a series of meetings that the City Council Education Subcommittee has been holding on the Providence Teachers Union contract and related matters. Meeting description: "The Education Subcommittee will review a draft report on the Providence Teachers Union contract. The report will recommend a 'tool kit' of contract improvements to advance public education within the City's difficult financial constraints." RSVP and more info on Facebook here.

Wednesday. April 27, Providence School Board Open Forum on Aligned Instruction, 6:30-8:00pm, Central High School, 70 Fricker Street, Providence. This meeting will be a presentation and question and answer session on the district's aligned instruction approach to curriculum and pedagogy. You can download a PDF flier that describes more about this meeting here. Childcare is available (good move!).

Also - if you are a parent/family member of a student at one of the schools that the RIDE recently named as needing intervention and support, there are meetings this week to discuss the intervention model options. On Tuesday, April 26th, Mary E. Fogarty Elementary and Alvarez High School are each meeting; on Thursday, April 28th, Hope High School (technically Hope Information Technology) and Mount Pleasant High School are each meeting, and the meetings for all of the schools are being repeated on Saturday, April 30. I do not have specific information about times or locations; presumably, PPSD is sharing that information with families, teachers, and students in each school community. These are not meetings intended for the general public.

To which all I can say is: there isn't enough time, patience, or babysitting money in the world to get me to the three of these gatherings that directly affect me, much as I'd like to go, and I imagine other parents feel similarly. I will try. My youngest kid's very first Little League game is Monday night and there is nowhere else I'd rather be on the planet than on the sidelines cheering him on, so I'll head on over to the School Board meeting after that. The rest? We'll see. I'd love to go but just don't see how to swing it with other kids' baseball games every night that week. As usual, if any readers do make it to these meeting and are willing to share notes/thoughts/observations here, I'd love to share those with Providence Schools and Beyond readers.

Friday, June 24 is the last day of school in Providence

An update to my "when's the last day of school?" post from earlier this week: this morning, Providence Public Schools posted to its Facebook page with the announcement that the last day of school is indeed Friday, June 24.

School registration and assignment in Boston

Last month, the Boston Globe ran "Getting In," an extensive series of print and video features on the experience of families going through the process of registering their kids in the Boston Public Schools. Those of us who are veterans of PPSD registration will note obvious differences, of course. Not the least of these differences is that the polices and practices of school registration and student assignment are clear and transparent.

That's not to imply that Bostonians themselves are delighted with BPS - as parents and others state over and over, their kids need better schools citywide. But what seems to be clear is that the registration process itself isn't a factor that contributes to people's frustration or abandonment either of the system of their work to advocate for their kids, and I cannot confidently say that about PPSD's registration and assignment processes.

Here's the link to the entire series: Fascinating reading.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When's the last day of school in Providence?

No, really. Last day of school for the 2010-2011 academic year in PPSD? Not yet decided (or at least not yet communicated). Nor is the first day of the 2011-2012 academic year. This inconveniences and frustrates, well, pretty much everyone: families, employers and co-workers of PPSD parents, community-based summer program providers, teachers and other professional staff, the district itself, the many tens of thousands of us who are directly or indirectly affected by the public schools. Huge ripple effect.

Whatever people are responsible for determining this, get it together. I know it's related to union/district negotiations. You'd think that all involved would want to score some easily-earned good will and make these two dates known so the rest of us can get on with our lives.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Spring Break!

Hey, it's spring break. Happy vacation, teachers and kids. Happy Passover, happy Easter, happy spring! Go enjoy the sunshine, get some sleep, have fun. School resumes Monday, April 25, 2011.

not just Providence, of course

School closings, probable or actual, are happening in many communities nationwide, and in an attempt to understand how this phenomenon is playing out elsewhere, Philadelphia's approach has come up in conversations frequently this week.

Philadelphia's plan to close some schools and restructure many others has been covered in its excellent independent Philadelphia Public School Notebook publication (which is what Providence Schools and Beyond wants to be when it grows up). Depending on your views and values, there's a lot to not love in Philly's proposals. I myself think that the suggestion that small schools don't serve kids well and aren't cost-effective is dead wrong.

But there's a lot for us to learn from Philadelphia's more deliberate approach to school closings and restructurings, particular the fact that the proposal is to take 18-24 months to roll out the restructuring plan and its acknowledgment that closing schools needs to be done but not for quick financial gains. From last week's Notebook story on the plan to close and restructure schools:
The draft plan released on Thursday, which Nunery described as a “work in progress,” is a response to the District’s 70,000 empty seats, hodgepodge of grade configurations and program offerings, and widely varying building utilization rates.
Currently, the District enrolls roughly 155,000 students and uses about 67 percent of its building capacity, officials say. By 2014, enrollment is expected to drop to 145,000, but the District wants to reach 85 percent utilization, which would mean shedding over 40,000 seats.
Although the District is facing a projected budget shortfall of $629 million next year, officials said the primary goal of the “rightsizing plan” is not to narrow the gap, and cautioned against expecting major savings resulting from the plan.
"Even though the economic impact would help us, it would be better if the communities are stronger," said Nunery.
The full plan, which will detail all of the proposed closures and other changes, is now expected to be made public in October. That timeline will allow for three months of public comment before the SRC votes on the plan in January 2012.
Philadelphia's timeline: discussion starts in April 2011 (actually, it's been ongoing prior to last week), plan announced in October 2011, SRC (their school board) vote in January 2012.

Providence's timeline: teacher firing and proposed school closings announced February 23 2011, schools proposed for closing named March 14, 2011, school board vote April 25, 2011.

Anyone who wishes could and should feel free to find fault with the Philly/Providence comparison. But it's hard to appreciate that the timeline of Philadelphia's plan to make more efficient use of its facilities operates at a scale that allows for community organization, education of folks in school communities who otherwise would have no meaningful opportunity to understand what's happening to their children and their neighborhood, time for decisionmakers and stakeholders to get up to speed--just more time for all of it, and more clarity about why changes need to happen and their significance (or financial lack thereof).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Let Diane Ravitch wake up your dozing skeptic

From the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, read Diane Ravitch's "Miracle schools, vouchers, and all that education flim-flam" to become a more educated and skeptical education journalism consumer. Ravitch's overview of the questions reporters should ask when writing about standardized test scores within schools, districts, and states, as well as charter/school choice issues, and more tell us what we should expect from education journalism and should push you to question unresearched and unsubstantiated claims of the successes of any particular policy.

Ravitch demonstrates that education reporting is necessarily complex. The effects of disregarding that complexity have contributed to the current testing-centric policy conditions that have made it so difficult for meaningful teaching and learning to happen everywhere and e specially in schools that serve students most in need.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Breakfast and more, in and out of the classroom

For the next East Side Monthly column, I am planning to write about the pros and cons of PPSD's new breakfast in the classroom program, which is what it sounds like: free breakfast in the classroom at the start of the day for all PPSD elementary school students. ProJo coverage of the program's launch in January is here. If any readers have anything you'd like to say about the breakfast in the classroom initiative, positive or negative, on the record or off, please let me know. I am still sorting out my own thoughts about its various advantages and problems.

While mulling this over, I saw this piece on the choices that schools make about the food that they serve kids--and the choices that they prevent--by Valerie Strauss in her Washington Post Answer Sheet column. Definitely worth a read if you're interested in policies and practices around food and nutrition in schools.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Reservoir Avenue Elementary School Science Teacher Wins Amgen Award

Dawn Clifton, a parent at Reservoir Avenue Elementary School, shared that Reservoir teacher Joanne Kearns has won a 2011 Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence. The award provides Mrs. Kearns with $10,000 and an additional $10,000 for the school. Many congratulations to Mrs. Kearns for her accomplishments.

In her email, Dawn added:
I think we can all name a teacher in our children's schools who, like Mrs. Kearns, manages to make great strides for our kids despite all kinds of challenges. I would really like for us to spread the word about these types of accomplishments rather than the incredibly negative slant PPSD has been receiving in the press and community. Wouldn't it be great if every school in our district felt compelled to submit at least one teacher for these types of awards? Reservoir students thrive under the challenges that teachers like Mrs. Kearns present to them. Let's celebrate these accomplishments.
To which I can only say: right on! Thanks, Dawn, and thanks to Mrs. Kearns for a job exceptionally well done.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

MLK Elementary participates in Lego Robotics Park Event

I'm delighted to feature a sunny side report from Kim Rohm, a parent of two students at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School (which is where my children also attend school). With her fifth grade daughter and other King students, Kim attended the Lego Robotics Park event that took place on Saturday, April 2 to support King's Lego Robotics Club, an afterschool program led by fifth grade teacher David Baxter. Here's her report:

It was a fantastic event organized by the Rhode Island School of the Future (celebrating its 20th anniversary). In the program for the day, RISF states that they are a “RI non-profit dedicated to helping schools improve their 'Lifelong' learning skills in their students and support teachers in this endeavor.  The RISF provides opportunities for students to act like real writers, real scientists, real mathematicians, real designers and to develop technological fluency through involvement in robotic design activities.” The event was titled Beautifully Organized Designed Systems.

We believe that MLK (which on one document was referred to as MLK Academy which we all thought was hilarious) was the only PPSD school. We held our own among the following local schools/teams: Barrington Middle School, Riverside Middle School, Sowams Elementary and Hampden Meadows, Hyper Green Oreos (the name of a team, not a school!), Eldredge Elementary, Martin Middle School, Barrington Christian Academy, YMCA at JDMS, Newport Community, Our Lady of Mercy, Mount Hope High, St. Mary’s Bayview, All Saints, Guest Family Homeschool, E.T. Wyman, Anna M. McCabe School, and the French American School.

Events included Chain Reaction Machine, Feeding Frenzy Pit, Animal Demonstrations, Interactive Robot Demonstrations and a Robotics Parade. The MLK Lego Team entered the parade and their “Bodies in Motion” float featured a robot that MLK Lego Team member/5th grader Roumel programmed to follow a black line on the floor of the gym. Roumel's robot pulled a float that had its own motor that made a platform of Lego people spin. The “people” were all doing a physical activity – soccer, running, walking, etc. It was pretty cool. Some of the floats, animals and other Lego displays clearly took months to put together. Super great day!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Report from Windmill Street Elementary School Board Hearing, March 30

Here's a brief report from the Providence School Board hearing on Windmill Street Elementary that took place at Windmill on March 30.

The Windmill school community used their advocacy skills tested by last year's PPSD proposal to close the school, which obviously ended in a decision to keep the school open. Lots of signs and poster, lots of families with kids and babies, 75+ students, teachers, parents making their cases to save their school. The hearing was heavy on emotion; lots of tears and desperation among speakers and audience members. It was crushingly sad to see so many kids, parents, and teachers so proud of and attached to their school say over and over and over and over that they wanted it to remain as an anchor of their community.

I don't know why Windmill is targeted for closure. Facility issues, it seems, rather than performance issues, as indicators of achievement have risen steadily over the past few years. Certainly not because other nearby schools can take up the slack. There are no other nearby elementary schools. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School and Veazie Street Elementary School are the nearest locations. Both are across major highways (King is across 95 and is a schlep to get to; Veazie Street is across 146 and not very nearby either) and fairly full themselves (I think that's the case for Veazie Street; it certainly is the case for King).

There was not enough meaningful commentary about the claim made by PPSD that many folks in the neighborhood don't use Windmill, one of the arguments for closing the school. Here in PDF form is the information that the district shared to back up that assertion. A few Windmill speakers described the experience of being dissuaded or even prevent by PPSD registration from enrolling their kids at Windmill, claims that aren't difficult to believe, so what the real story is about neighborhood demand for Windmill seats, I can't say. Right now, it doesn't seem that the neighborhood is hitting the levels of organization that's happening on the West Side via WSPEC. I wish I--or someone--had the capacity to spend time in the North End better understanding the situation. Clearly, this is a beloved school, an anchor of its community, and it feels wrong to remove the only option for a neighborhood school in that part of town.

Mayor Taveras meeting with WSPEC + Flynn School Board hearing tonight

Two quick notes:

Per the ProJo, his afternoon, the West Side Public Education Coalition met--or perhaps is still meeting--with Mayor Taveras to clarify the questions and issues its members have raised in public statements and on its web site about the impact proposed school closures and reorganizations will have on the West Side's communities. WPSEC has been awesome at sharing info--looking forward to a report from the meeting (which was closed to the public).

Very much not closed to the public is tonight's School Board hearing on the proposed closure of Flynn Elementary School, to take place at 6:00pm at the Davey Lopes Recreation Center at 227 Dudley Street. Again, if any Providence Schools and Beyond reader attends and is willing to write up notes and thoughts, I'd be thrilled to publish those here along with my quick summary of last week's Windmill Street Elementary hearing.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Writers-in-the-Schools presents Young Poets Read at AS220, April 9

On Saturday, April 9 from 3:00-5:00pm, come out to support young poets from Providence and Central Falls as they read their work at AS220, 115 Empire Street in Providence.

Writers-in-the-Schools matches poets with classrooms in Rhode Island's urban schools, providing writing instruction and poetry education/enlightenment/encouragement. On Saturday, poets from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School and Central Falls High School will share their work. Come out to support them and to show your commitment for poetry as an essential part of learning and expression.

I'll be there for sure; it happens that Elias, my fifth grader at King, is one of the performers. However, I'd be sharing this event with you even if he or his school weren't a part of it. We need to do all we can to support Writers-in-the-Schools work, and our schools' capacity to collaborate with artists, writers, poets, and others from our community who have so much to offer our students.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The sunnier side of the street

MLK Elementary's NECAP celebration, October 2010
I'm starting a feature on Providence Schools and Beyond spotlighting the triumphs of Providence Public Schools students and educators. The triumphs, victories, celebration can be huge or tiny. If I don't post something every day, it's only because I haven't spread the word well enough, because I know for sure there is something to celebrate every single day.

Amid obstacles, bad news, setbacks, and challenges we're facing this spring, excellent teaching and learning continues. Students achieve and thrive. Teachers experience professional breakthroughs and honors. We have so much to celebrate, and because by nature I tend to hang out on the sunny side of the street, I am eager to share good news. I'm not doing so to bury my head in the sand or suggest that you do the same, but given the limited space and time that media devotes to education and the frighteningly flashy train-wreck quality of recent Providence (and beyond) education news, we're not hearing enough about the events worth celebrating in the lives of students, teachers, classrooms, and schools.

So please help spread the word. If there's something happening in your school community that you think needs to be shared widely, tell all of the usual media sources of course, and if you have an extra few seconds, let me know too, and I'll share the news here. I'm @dazzlingbetty on Twitter. Find me there or email me at jill.davidson-at-gmail-dot-com.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Questions from the West, questions from the East, and the company we keep

Both the West Side Public Education Coalition (WSPEC) and the East Side Public Education Coalition (ESPEC) have posted thoughtful, necessary questions about the intertwined school closing/teacher firing/student reassignment crises: WSPEC questions here and ESPEC questions here.

Timelines to meet city budget and teacher retirement deadlines have created a sense of urgency that seems to be in conflict with the equally urgent need for transparency, not to mention an appropriate process, described as a minimum 12-month process. in this comprehensive guide to school closures due to urgent fiscal pressures put out by the Broad Foundation.

To make sense of and meaningfully participate in the current situation and in order to (re)establish a baseline of trust so that we can move forward with faith in the system and our leaders, we (students, family members, educators, and everyone else) need clearer, better answers from the Mayor, other elected officials, and the school board.

And in order to put the proposed school closures into a national context, take a few minutes to read this excellent account from the Philadelphia Public School Notebook of the Ford Foundation's recent "Examining School Transformations and Closures from the Ground Up" event and related school closings/reorganizations in the works in Philly and Newark (thanks to Tom Hoffman for pointing out the Notebook story).

While the context in Providence doesn't overlap fully with what's happening in New York and Chicago, the effect of our current lightning round of school closures has the truly unfortunate potential to producing much of the same community alienation and distrust. And while those of us who know the situation in Providence can read the Notebook's account and say, "Well, that's not us," those outside our context could and likely will easily believe that our city is selling out its public schools in ways that the Chicago and New York activists are claiming (if you need proof of this, see the recent claims that the city's move to dismiss all PPSD teachers put us firmly in Wisconsin's company).

Let me be clear: I don't think that's what's happening. There's a completely valid case to be made for "rightsizing" a district by dealing with excess school building capacity. There's a real need to deal with school buildings that have outlived their usefulness as places that provide the conditions for excellent teaching and learning. And there's a completely evident urgency that Providence must deal with its finances responsibly. No arguments there. But because the rushed process cannot include meaningful community/stakeholder participation, we have to face the reality that we're damaging our city's public schools, even though that damage may be inadvertent. Therefore, the need to get clear answers to pressing questions is critically important right now so that we can put everyone in all neighborhoods to work containing the damage and moving forward to ensure the best shot at ensuring consistently good schools for all kids in every part of Providence.