Thursday, June 2, 2011

PPSD middle school placement letter has arrived

On Saturday, we received notification from PPSD that Elias had a spot at Nathan Bishop Middle School. He'll start there in the fall with many friends from MLK Elementary School and elsewhere--preschool, soccer, baseball, religious school, camp, the playground. Bishop is our neighborhood school, both in terms of PPSD's definition (neighborhood = kid lives within a mile and a half of the school) and in the very real everyday sense, because we live across the street (no, we don't live in the Brown Stadium).

I've written a bit about our process of identifying which middle school option would suit him best, and I think that he and his friends will have a great experience at Bishop. Mostly, I am relieved to have certain word that he'll be there in the fall.

Patiently waiting is not in my natural skill set, so I didn't enjoy this extended process of waiting to hear about middle school placement. For sure, I am not the only person who felt that way. And for sure, not everyone is as satisfied with the outcome. One of Elias' classmates who lives on the other side of the city desperately wanted a seat at Bishop. She well below spot #50 on the wait list, and she is crushed not to be heading onto middle school with her friends. I don't know how far beyond her spot Bishop's wait list extends, but I suspect there are many more.

I hope that the families who wanted to attend or remain at soon the be closed Bridgham Middle School are happy with their children's assignments. And of course I hope that all families across the city will send their newly minted middle schoolers to schools that will help their kids be their best selves as they get ready for high school and the next steps in their lives.

It will take a whole lot more than hope, of course. For those families who did not get a seat at the middle school of your choice, I hope you get involved with your kid's school and direct your passion and energy toward making it the high quality school it needs to be for your kid and all kids.

I will be right there with you; I'll be representing Bishop next year on the district's Parent Advisory Committee (PAC), which meets monthly for collaborative school improvement work and problem-solving, and I am eager to connect with representatives from the other middle schools across the city. If your kid attends or will attend Greene, DelSesto, Roger Williams, Gilbert Stuart, or Esek Hopkins, please join us at the PAC so we can work together with school staff to create the best places for our kids to learn and grow. I'll be posting next year's PAC dates here, and if you have any questions or want to talk, post a comment here or email me at jill.davidson (at) gmail (dot) com.


  1. Congrats to your family, Jill! And thanks for being an advocate for everybody's kids in this intimidating process and in general.

  2. Thanks, Marjorie. Much appreciated!

  3. It's great that you have a choice to go to a beautifully renovated (at a cost of $30MM+) that was delivered to you by lottery. Not living on the east side, and having seen my neighborhood middle school (Greene) ripped apart by the brain-drain of students to Bishop, I am scrambling to get into a charter school or fork up some money for privates. I wish we had the same luck as you.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts, Anonymous. That's exactly why we must raise the bar for all middle schools.

    As a point of clarification, luck has little do with my kid going to Bishop. He was not assigned to Bishop by lottery. He was assigned there as a result of being in the neighborhood zone, which allocates up to 80% of a middle school's seats to students who live a mile and a half or less from the school. Since we live within that range, Bishop is his neighborhood school and that's where he is going. I am DELIGHTED that he will be there with many other kids who do not live in this neighborhood--not all neighborhood seats were taken. I am hoping that lots of kids from all over the city make it off the wait list if Bishop is where they want to be.

    I don't know if you've followed my blog; if so, you may have seen this piece in which I discuss a bit about the process by which my son attempted to choose between Greene and Bishop.

    We took the option of Greene very seriously, and we were grateful for it. Ultimately, my son chose Bishop because it's closer and his quality of life would be better if he didn't have a long bus ride. That was his choice and I respect it.

    A word about facilities: I look at Bishop and mostly feel wildly frustrated and angry that all kids across the city don't have access to facilities that are comparable. This same kid went to MLK Elementary, where his brothers remain and which also is our neighborhood school. If you've been there you would know that I do not need to say more. If you haven't been there, I would be happy to show you around and you can admire our falling apart cafeteria, our bedraggled bathrooms, our frayed rugs, our leaky roof for yourself - and I hope the commitment to good, sometimes even great, teaching and learning that happens there anyway.

    I am furious that all kids don't have access to great spaces in which to learn to use their minds well. I don't settle for what we have now. I think that schools like PCTA and Bishop need to be an indicator of what's possible in terms of facilities and we need to create the demand and the will on the part of our politicians and our populace to fund schools appropriately. I'll guess you think similarly.

    I admire your commitment to finding and gaining access to the right school for your kid. If you want to share more about the process and the options you're considering, the reasons why Greene won't work for your kid, or anything else, I really welcome that. All the best to you.

  5. Not by lottery? Well, as I understand the student assignment system, a certain percentage of seats are reserved for neighborhood and a certain percentage for non-neighborhood. My chances, super-slim. Yours, super-great. Explain to my son why because he lives in 02908 that he gets to go to school in a slum while you live where you do and get a great facility. Talk about the rich getting richer....

    Honestly, Providence clearly has no clue what's going on with its schools. A relatively small number of seats available for charters. Expensive (or weak) parochials. Why can't I just send my kid to a decent school in RI? Massachusetts here we come!

  6. Sounds like you're fed up and out of here. I totally understand the feeling, and wish you luck.