"I am a parent of a child at Pleasant View Elementary (PVE). For the last three years our school has been neglected by the School Department and RIDE. Last year (2010-2011) we had two temporary principals, both came out of retirement and made more than $400 a day to babysit the property. The two years (2008-2010) prior to that we had a man put in as Principal who stole our students funds and recently plead out of at court. It has been recently made public knowledge that he was put in our school (PVE) as a set up so he would be caught. Meanwhile, our children were ignored and there was not over sight.
Today, our outstanding, hard working teachers and new amazing Principal had this ball dropped in our laps. The turnaround time for PVE should have an more time built in. In just the last 30+ days of school our parents and students have experienced a marked turn of events! Our school community is growing stronger, our teachers are being challenged and are happy about it, and our students are working harder too!
Although the turnaround school designation does usher in additional federal dollars, Providence Supt. Susan Lusi says the aid –– about $300,000 per school –– isn’t enough to transform seven large schools.
“Two million dollars is a tiny amount when you are trying to turn around seven schools,” Lusi said. “On the one hand, it’s not enough money. On the other, we have to improve the achievement of our students.”
When the federal government made large sums of money available for school improvement, it assumed that states would also make an investment, Lusi said. But the General Assembly has eliminated spending for school turnaround efforts.
“Shea High School should be the poster child for the well-meaning but bad judgment of No Child Left Behind,” said Principal Chris Lord, referring to the sweeping school reform plan introduced by former President George W. Bush. “Yes, there has to be school reform. But there are ways to go about it that reflect what is really taking place in the schools.”
Shea recently received a glowing report from the prestigious New England Association of Schools and Colleges, which spent a week evaluating the school. Shea has a nationally recognized “government academy,” where students intern in government agencies and the legislature. It has an exchange program with students in China.
Yet, none of these successes is recognized in determining which schools are targeted for intervention, Lord said.
Lusi's response, while still pretty mild, is more critical than the "Thank you sir, may I have another?" response last year from Brady.
I still have no sense whatsoever of what level of machination is going on in the selection of the "persistently low achieving." By my reading the state has a lot of latitude to come up with whaterver crazy math gives the results they want, and even then flexibility to make selections within their arbitrary calculations. And apparently to change the calculations and the selections months after the fact. Hopefully there is some kind of strategy behind this, but it is hard to infer.
In particular, suddenly targeting both high schools in Pawtucket is going to be... interesting. I don't know much about Pawtucket, in fact I drive my wife crazy by constantly referring to Pawtucket as Woonsocket, and vice versa (not to mention driving to the wrong one occasionally). Generally though, what you'd want to do is go after the poorer school first, splitting opposition in the town, and go after the more affluent one next year.
I don't imagine this will happen, but Pawtucket has a lot more leeway than Providence to push back against RIDE and the feds on this one. I don't think the state's threat to take over both those schools is very credible if there was strong and persistent opposition (including an alternative plan for raising graduation rates) from the city. Not that I'm predicting anything.