Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Learning from charter schools - what could that mean?

Related to the previous post on RIDE's big list and what it means for Providence, this July 14 ProJo article contains comments on the implications of this new RIDE classification schema from Superintendent Sue Lusi and School Board President Keith Oliveira, including this insight: 
Providence School Board President Keith Oliveira says it’s time for Providence to look to local charter schools that are moving the academic bar.

“It’s unacceptable that we have so many schools on the list,” he said. “We need to look at those urban schools with high degrees of achievement and parent satisfaction — the charter schools. They are doing something that’s working. It’s about time we consider learning from them.”
Mr. Oliveira, which charter schools are you referring to? A huge amount depends on that answer. If hope that you're thinking about some of our local, independently run charter schools such as ICS, the Learning Community, and, Times2, and Paul Cuffee. I think we have lots to learn from what they're doing - and of course, plenty to learn from other schools in the district including, of course, school on "the list." 

I will keep saying and writing, until I am blue in the face and the fingers, that PPSD already has much of the wisdom and skills needed to change outcomes for young people in our schools. What we lack is the political will that would provide resources and opportunities for effective professional development, site-based management, appropriate support for school leaders, sustained district leadership, lack of disruption from top-down district reorganization. Yes, I am still bitter about last year's school closings and their impact on young people and their schools. To think that there's no connection between that and lack of progress within a number of PPSD school that resulted in these new classifications is ridiculous. 

In addition to all that, collaboration among and between district schools and local charter schools would be great, especially given the high quality of local independent charter schools that surround us. Yes, let's learn from and with them. 

However, I hope that "learn from" doesn't mean "we invite charter chains managed by for-profit operators to take over our school district." That kind of "learning" we can do without. 

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