Monday, May 7, 2012

Providence School Board meeting tonight, 6:30pm, public vote on PPSD's next superintendent

Tonight, the Providence School Board is scheduled to vote on the confirmation of the next PPSD superintendent. Originally, this was slated to be a decision that took place entirely in executive session, per this Providence School Board agenda filed on Tuesday, May 1 and posted on the RI Secretary of State's website. On Friday, May 4, a revised agenda was posted stating that the board will meet first in executive session and then reconvene publicly for a vote to confirm the superintendent choice.

This is a welcome change that adds a last-minute smidgen of transparency to a process that has been secretive. I wrote last week about the undemocratic effects of the covert superintendent choice process. I very much wish to be present this evening for the vote in order to take advantage of what little opportunity for participation has been afforded. If you're just learning about this now and have any opportunity to attend, I hope that you do and that you're willing to post here in a comment or otherwise share what you saw and heard.

I didn't plan to be there, since until Friday there was no reason to be there. This week's capacity for evening meetings, already quite limited during Little League season, is already full; I'll be at the monthly PPSD Parent Advisory Council (PAC) meeting on Thursday evening (and if you want to know more about the PAC and how to participate, please let me know!). Mercifully, that's our one baseball-game-free evening this week. Part of me, of course, wants to figure out some way to get to tonight's school board meeting to witness whatever goes down. But a whole lot more of me--as much as I'd like to be there, as vital as it is that we show up and be heard--really needs to be present for my kid who will be playing tonight; for my other kids who will be at the game too; for my husband who's also trying to balance a job, a commute, and a family and who I don't wish to hit with a last-minute plea that he leave work early so I can be at the meeting tonight; and for some semblance of sanity, laundry, homework, dinner, and routine, none of which are easily had right now. 

Had this whole process been more transparent, inclusive, even marginally acknowledging of the importance of public engagement or at least public information, I'd likely have found a way to be at the meeting that should have been public all along. Yeah, I know that I've previously groused about how hard it is for many of us--particularly family members with school-age children--to react to last minute info, drop everything, and show up to stand up for what's right for our schools. We live in an imperfect world, that's just how it goes. Nevertheless, the last-minute change irks me, not because the school board vote has been made public but because it should have been public all along so that (to name just one reason) people could plan to be present  for--and perhaps even participate meaningfully in--important events in the life our our city's schools.

So, to recap: School Board meeting tonight, 6:30pm at 797 Westminster Street, during which the Providence School Board will vote on the next PPSD superintendent. Please go if you can. Please share what you saw and heard. Please know that I really wish I could be there. Thanks,

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