Friday, February 13, 2009

Letter to the Editor

Linda Borg's February 13 article "Providence schools develop new graduation requirements that will do away with the district’s fragmented curriculum" reports that the Providence School Department's "...chief academic officer Sharon Contreras said, the days of allowing schools to pursue their unique brand of education are over."

As the parent of a toddler, I am already starting to worry about whether we'll literally win the lottery necessary for her to attend Highlander, the unique charter school two blocks from my house. It is not the only good school in the city. Like most local parents, I would be comfortable with my daughter attending Charles Fortes Elementary, Paul Cuffee School, Meeting Street, or Times 2, and eventually The Met, Classical, Community Prep or Feinstein High School, to name a few.

I don't know which of these schools will be the best fit someday for Vivian, but I am comforted by the fact that there are so many unique, successful schools in Providence.

So I am confused and discouraged by Ms. Contreras's enthusiasm for uniformity. I would like to know more about how the new curriculum and graduation requirements will affect existing programs. Will Classical still have honors classes for sophomores and juniors? Will the gifted program at Nathaniel Greene continue and will the special programs planned for Nathan Bishop Middle School be implemented? Will the Providence Academy for International Studies still be able to require international studies courses? Will Feinstein High School be allowed to include standards-based portfolio evaluation as a graduation requirement?

Ms. Borg's article suggests the answer to all these questions is "no," but clearly more information is needed.

Tom Hoffman
Providence, RI

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