Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Meetings and hearings on Achievement First's application to open Mayor Academies in Providence

Regular Providence Schools and Beyond readers will know that for much of 2011, citizens of Providence, Cranston, and other municipalities have been debating the merits and detriments of a proposal from charter management organization Achievement First to open two Mayoral Academies in the coming years to serve K-12 students. Following the Rhode Island Board of Regents’ rejection of a version of the proposal to open the schools in Cranston to serve students in grades K-12 from Cranston and Providence, Achievement First resubmitted the charter application with a view to open the schools in Providence in 2013 and 2014 to serve students not only from Providence and Cranston but also (name other surrounding towns). That proposal is front and center in Providence this week.

Yesterday, a coalition of Providence neighborhood associations, parent organizations, student organizing groups, private-sector unions, community organizing groups, and public officials (including the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization, of which I am a member) announced its opposition to the establishment of a network of Achievement First Mayoral Academies in Providence. The coalition held a rally and press conference at the State House and delivered a letter to the Governor expressing its concern about and lack of interest in the prospect of Achievement First’s establishment of the Mayoral Academies in Providence. Click here to view the letter on Google Docs. The group used Facebook to organize - if you want to join in, go here: http://www.facebook.com/events/245049805555073/. The Brown Daily Herald covered yesterday's protest nicely here.

More Achievement First news, this from Councilman Sam Zurier’s Ward 2 email newsletter: tonight (Tuesday, November 29) at 5:00pm, the Providence City Council’s Education Subcommittee will hear a presentation from representatives of Achievement First, which has applied to operate a mayoral academy charter school in Providence.  Members of the City Council will ask questions, including questions submitted from the public. Councilman Zurier did not say this, but I would guess that you cannot be there, as I cannot due to work obligations, he may accept questions via email or phone calls.  The hearing will take place in Providence City Hall, 25 Dorrance Street.

Next week, on Tuesday, December 6, the Providence City Council Education Subcommittee will hear the School Department’s projection of the financial impact of the new charter school if it is approved.  I’ll share the time when it’s announced.

Both of these Providence City Council Education Subcommittee Meetings precede next week’s Rhode Island Board of Regents’ hearings on the proposed Achievement First Mayoral Academies. WRNI’s Education Blog reports that the hearings will take place as follows:
  • Wednesday, December 7, 6:00pm, Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School, 195 Nelson Street in Providence
  • Thursday, December 8, 6:00pm Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School, 375 Adelaide Avenue in Providence
Please - whether you're avidly opposed to or in support of Achievement First--and especially if you want to know more--do what you can to learn about the financial, social, educational and other impacts these schools may have on our city. Come to the hearings and sign up for public comment - make your views known. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Info sessions for Kindergarten: tonight and 11/28

This morning, PPSD's Office of Family and Community Engagement shared the flier above that shares dates for information meetings for families with children who will be entering Kindergarten in the fall of 2012, and I am happy to help spread the word. You'll see that there was already a session today, and there's another tonight, with more on Monday, 11/28. Definitely go if you can to get answers to any questions you may have about registration!

Monday, November 21, 2011

PPSD Kindergarten Registration for 2012! January 3-February 10, 2012

Heads up to families looking at kindergarten: Providence Public Schools will be registering children for kindergarten and first grade from January 3 to February 10, 2012. The registration is done alphabetically; click here for a PDF of the schedule. You can vist the Providence Public Schools' website's registration section for details about registration requirements and assignment policies.

Please spend time during December to visit schools, both those in your neighborhood (remember, Providence has a neighborhood school enrollment policy for general education students) and those outside your neighborhood that interest you. Open Schools week is 12
/5-12/8, as described on this PDF flier.

In an upcoming post, I'll revist and refresh thoughts about the value of visiting schools and how you can interpret and understand information about schools in our community. If you're curious now, check out the posts that share the labels I've given to past posts. You'll notice that in previous years, Kindergarten registration was much later in the year. It's fanstastic that registration is earlier now, and I hope that means that the process of assigning students and notifying families of those assignments will happen commensurately earlier as well. Last year (which was complicated due to the school closures), we received verification of my kindergartner's school assignment (MLK Elementary) at nearly the end of the school year. Here's hoping that families will find out much sooner and be that much less anxious during what should be an exciting time of transition.

Worries about what may happen aside, the earlier start to kindergarten registration is a great start toward improved operations. Way to go, PPSD!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bright Night's Got Talent! Excellent opportunity for young people to show their stuff.

I am happy to pass along a very cool opportunity for young performers to perform at Bright Night!  Visit http://www.brightnight.org/bngt.html for all of the details - here's a bit of what's happening:
Welcome to Bright Night’s Got Talent, where you could win the chance to perform at Bright Night Providence 2012!

There are four age groups - performers are allowed two minutes in the first round (December 10) and five minutes in the second round. This contest is open to groups and individuals. The dates for the contest are December 10, & 17, 2011. December 10 will be the preliminary round, and December 17 will be the semi-finals. Winners will be awarded a paid performance as part of Bright Night Providence on 12/31/2011.

Visit http://www.brightnight.org/bngt.html for all of the info, and share the word so that as many young people as possible have the opportunity to participate.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Education Opportunities Working Group report released

Quick post to share that the Mayor's Office released its Education Opportunities Working Group report on Monday afternoon at Veazie Street Elementary School. The report, Educate Providence, is available at http://providenceri.com/educate-providence for your perusal. I've downloaded the full 89 page report but have not yet read - will do, and would love thoughts from any of you who have had the time to dive in. What do the recommendations that resulted from the Education Opportunities Working Group's work mean for our city's schools immediately and long-term?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Alfie Kohn on the connections between play and learning

At the Coalition of Essential Schools' Fall Forum last week, Alfie Kohn and Deborah Meier conversed with each other and a room full of educators and students about the value and role of play in education. In "How children's 'play' is being sneakily redefined," Alfie shared his remarks from their session with the Washington Post's Answer Sheet.

The piece is well worth a read for all of us who are concerned about not only recess (a huge concern here in Providence and elsewhere) but also the ways the rigidly defined curriculum and schedules that confront our kids in school aren't necessarily creating the best conditions for teaching, learning, and allowing them to develop into their best selves.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Providence Schools and Beyond: unpaused!

After an extensive pause, today I’m hitting “play” on this blog, which I needed to put on ice for a few weeks in order to focus my energy completely on the Coalition of Essential Schools’ Fall Forum 2011, which took place last week. The shortest possible story about Fall Forum is: big success! I’ll be posting more extensively about Fall Forum and the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES) in the near future.

But first, I want to share my own professional news. After working at CES for more than 12 years, which has been a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime experience, I have moved onto a new opportunity. I’m now the Director of Publications and Communications at Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR). ESR provides support and services to educators and school communities in areas that include secondary school redesign, school culture, social-emotional learning, and conflict resolution. I’m working on maintaining abd expanding ESR’s publications, developing an electronic product distribution strategy, and refining and expanding ESR’s communications capacity. I’m thrilled to be there and hope that what I learn can continue to inform my understanding of the opportunities and challenges that face public schools in Providence and beyond.

Blog, consider yourself unpaused. Away we go!