Providence Schools/Teachers: When all else fails….Charter

Refreshing (via ProJo):

Providence schools superintendent…Susan Lusi, together with Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith and School Board President Keith Oliveira, are promoting the idea of district-operated charters, which would give principals greater say over what happens in the classroom without sacrificing union protection for teachers….
Given the us-versus-them attitude toward charter schools, Lusi was pleasantly surprised when nine Providence schools said they were willing to pursue charter school status….With so many schools under the gun to improve student achievement, Lusi knew she had to do something to shake up a system that has remained largely unchanged, despite wave after wave of reform.
“People don’t think they have permission to think outside the box,” Lusi said Tuesday. “Symbolically, this is a signal to think outside the box.”
Providence and many other districts, she says, have been trapped by the notion that school has to look the same in every building: 50-minute periods, a 6.5-hour day, 26 students per class. It doesn’t, Lusi says. There is no research that says that the old agrarian model of learning works. In fact, there is a growing body of research that says schools should fine-tune their instruction to meet the diverse ways students learn.
Providence has already begun to tinker with tradition. This year, most of the city’s high schools have a longer day. They have also adopted a class schedule with longer blocks of time. Some schools are toying with the idea of offering a Saturday academy or afterschool enrichment programs.
Lusi says charter schools do three important things that the district needs: create a school culture that is warm and welcoming, bring in partners with innovative ways of looking at teaching and learning, and attract additional resources. About $5 million in federal money is available for new charters.

Trying something new is a start.

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Russ
Russ
9 years ago

Let’s hope for the best. But this is essentially a Hobson’s choice, money and charters or nothing.

Russ
Russ
9 years ago

btw, what else have they tried when you say “all else?” All I’ve seen in my visits is discipline, test prep, and general neglect of the buildings and grounds. Granted, I haven’t seen some of the nicer schools but I’m guessing those aren’t the ones now grasping at the dangled promise of change.

Patrick
Patrick
9 years ago

Let the professionals do their job. These people went to college for 4 or more years, plus continued education to teach. Let them do it. Let them do what they think is best for their students and if it turns out that they don’t know what is best, hold them accountable.
Isn’t that how it works in most other professions?

Justin Katz
Justin Katz (@justin)
9 years ago

Sorry to be the voice of skepticism, here, but I’m not sure what calling schools “charters” will accomplish. A little bit of research suggests that district-run charters in RI aren’t appreciably better. (I’d also note that charters in Chicago are staying open during the strike; doubt they’re unionized, at least in the overarching union.)
Of course, a lot will have to do with the details, but some variations could lead to an erroneous declaration of “proof” that charters don’t do any good.

Marc
Marc
9 years ago

I understand the skepticism. I hardly think just by calling something a charter–even if it means bringing in outside help–automatically means that the new plan will be successful. What I take encouragement from is that it indicates a change in mindset, even if a little bit, from the same ol’/same ol’. So, yes, I guess it means I’m latching onto Lusi’s statement that it’s a symbol that some are ready to “think outside the box” (ach, overused mgmt-speak). Grasping at straws? Perhaps. As for erroneous analysis, well, we know who’ll be ready to provide such negative assessement…but they would do it anyway.

Henry Marciano
Henry Marciano
9 years ago

As a retired Providence Teacher with 35 years of
distinguished service,I have commented numerous times in the Providence Journal on the pitfalls of
“Educational Reform”. Educational fads will not replace good teaching.
The solution is for the share holders, namely, students, parents, and teachers to take back our schools form federal bureaucratic nincompoops
promoting failed educational policies and carpetbaggers promoting charter schools merely to line their pockets.
Federal mandates force our public schools to maintain social promotion policies and lax behavior codes of conduct in order to receive
federal funds. So much for “High Academic Standards!

Henry Marciano
Henry Marciano
9 years ago

As a retired Providence Teacher with 35 years of
distinguished service,I have commented numerous times in the Providence Journal on the pitfalls of
“Educational Reform”. Educational fads will not replace good teaching.
The solution is for the share holders, namely, students, parents, and teachers to take back our schools form federal bureaucratic nincompoops
promoting failed educational policies and carpetbaggers promoting charter schools merely to line their pockets.
Federal mandates force our public schools to maintain social promotion policies and lax behavior codes of conduct in order to receive
federal funds. So much for “High Academic Standards!

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

Russ-you’ve noted that you’re a Providence resident-have you got any children in the Providence school system?I have a grandchild in that system and the school is ok and close to her residence-it was a matter of getting down as early as possible for registration so there was a better chance at the school of choice.My son and daughter both attended that school also.And it’s not on the East Side.
My take on charter schools:if they have good results,fine,if not,close them-case by case is probably the only way to do it.One size doesn’t fit all.

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