Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nobody Could Have Predicted

Elisabeth Harrison:

Providence officials are considering closing down Alvarez High School and using the building for a new middle school, as they face an expected rise in middle school students.

The thing to get unabashedly angry about is that we just turned over an empty middle school to Achievement First.

On the other hand, Alvarez High School should never have been created in the first place. To review, the building in question was constructed specifically to house Feinstein High School. Unfortunately, the Evans administration at PPSD decided it was a better idea to take the faculty and students of a temporary "overflow" high school, Harrison Street, and move it permanently into the site as the new Alvarez High School.

Subsequently, Feinstein was closed when its building was deemed inadequate (a charter school has subsequently found it to be quite adequate), while Alvarez never overcame its substantial initial handicaps.

As The Proteun put it:

This was no easy task because the 600 students and the staff were plucked from high schools all over the district. Many of the students, however, came from Harrison Street, a shell of a high school where students and staff felt abandoned.

That is, PPSD (and the Gates Foundation) successfully turned around an urban high school at great expense, then closed it, and instead made permanent a temporary ad hoc school that had no realistic chance of succeeding as a permanent institution. It was tragically stupid.

And the problem with the lack of coordination inherent in the charter school strategy is that there is apparently no way to get anyone to at least consider opening a charter middle school in the near future. What are we going to have to do, call KIPP? Or are they afraid of 12 year olds now too? I can't say I trust the PPSD to successfully open a new middle school in South Providence.

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