PROVIDENCE — After much soul-searching, School Supt. Susan Lusi said she has concluded that using the NECAP test as a high school graduation requirement isn’t fair for students who already struggle with poverty and other barriers.
In testimony Wednesday before the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee, Lusi said she can no longer support a system that “disadvantages the very students in our state who are already the most disadvantaged” — those who are poor, have special learning needs and are learning English.
Lusi appears to be the first superintendent who has openly disagreed with state Education Commissioner Deborah Gist’s controversial policy linking a standardized test, the NECAP, to a diploma. The policy has come under increasing fire from teachers, union leaders and student activists but school leaders have been mum on the subject.
And more back and forth between Education Chairwoman Eva-Marie Mancuso and Providence School Board President Keith Oliveira.
We've become accustomed to the idea that urban superintendents will actively support, or at least remain prudently silent about, state and federal attacks upon institutions and employees they ostensibly lead, and corresponding threats the the welfare of students in their charge. This is not, of course, the only possible state of affairs. As the current wave of school reform loses momentum and moral authority, professional administrators and local board members will not only be able to speak and act based on their own conscience and judgement, but it may indeed become a good career move once again to show you will stick up for your own constituents. It isn't such a strange idea!
I have no idea what Mancuso and the board thinks it is standing up for at this point, as they've already gutted the NECAP requirement. All that is left is a husk of red tape which will only entangle the most vulnerable students. RIDE and the board are left with an extremely weak hand, and everyone knows it.
On the other hand, it was clear a while ago that the RI Board of Education was being manoeuvred by RIDE administration and federal policies into acting more like a large school district board, getting into decisions about individual school policies (Hope High), opening and closing individual schools, etc., which would inevitably get them tied up in what would become a highly frustrating level of small-scale political sniping and infighting. It was bound to become unpleasant.