I've started blogging some at RI Future, aimed more at the general local progressive policy community. Yesterday I posted the final version of my PVD high schools infographic with some commentary:
Schools in Rhode Island and Providence are suffering from the regular cycle of what Larry Cuban calls "amnesiac policymakers:"Few policymakers are familiar with the history of urban districts and how they evolved through absorbing waves of earlier immigrants as well as past efforts to improve schooling for the poor. Instead these policy brokers draw from personal experiences while soaking up juicy stories others tell about schools. In ignoring earlier efforts at urban school reform, they either substitute their own pictures of what they think happened or they assume that nothing can be learned from the past because current conditions differ so much from conditions then (or they do both). They err.
The recent history of high school reform in Providence is particularly complex. As you may have forgotten, just short of 10 years ago Providence was accepting $13,568,880 from the Gates Foundation aimed primarily at creating small high schools. In the past fifteen years or so within the borders of Providence on average about one new high school has opened or been reconstituted each year.
From 50,000 feet, it may feel like this has all added up to nothing; certainly Providence has not seen the kind of systemic change it aspired to a decade ago. But there were real successes. Unfortunately, the Brady administration in Providence and Chancellor Gist's RIDE seem more motivated to undo and erase from history the hard-won innovation and achievement in the PPSD's small high schools than sustain it.
In an attempt to illustrate the complexities of Providence's high schools, I've created this infographic:
Feinstein, E-Cubed, and Hope Arts together are the equivalent of pushing a Central or Mount Pleasant's reading achievement over the state average. Or like creating six more successful charters the size of Times2 or Textron. Instead of celebrating these home-grown district schools, they're being dismantled by the state and district, and, in the case of Feinstein, likely closed outright.