Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Current Situation in the PPSD

After spending today as a day-to-day sub in a middle school, my wife will start a long term subbing assignment in a PPSD high school. As a bonus it is one of the few that definitely won't be closed or reconstituted in the next two years. This is a relatively good outcome -- but getting here was incredibly stressful, painful and dispiriting. I'll spare you the melodramatic details and, just to be clear, I'll be avoiding talking about this school at all.

The past year has also been very strange insofar as I had never focused much (and I've been blogging since 2003, in various places) on Providence schools or in particular the school here I helped redesign, and where my wife still worked. But once it was clear the school was not only being closed, but labeled as "persistently low-performing" at exactly the point it became as high performing in test scores as it was in other ways, well, there wasn't much to lose at that point. And I felt I needed to set the record straight.

Nonetheless, the possibility that I was screwing up my wife's career to indulge my own vanity was always in the back of my mind. There has never been any evidence that this was actually happening though, Jennifer stirs up enough trouble on her own, and ultimately, while I would curtail my blogging for practical reasons, I wouldn't stop writing letters, going to the occasional school board meeting and speaking my mind in other ways.

Finally, I will say this: based on what I've heard these past few days, I'm more genuinely worried about the future of Providence's high schools than I was before. Angry, yes. Frustrated, of course. But under that there has been the pervasive sense of inertia that one acquires when working with urban school districts. Things might get a bit better or a bit worse, but really it is all the same.

Right now I've got the feeling in the pit of my stomach that things might really go wrong in the high schools over the next two years, that there are too many schools that are working better than anyone will give them credit for are going to be shaken apart with the belief that things can't get worse, and too little leadership that understands the facts on the ground, especially at RIDE. Things are going to get rocky.

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