The state will be more involved in the running of Providence’s public schools. Governor Gina Raimondo made the pronouncement following a bleak report from Johns Hopkins University outlining issue after issue in the capital city’s schools.
The school system in Rhode Island’s capital city has struggled for years with low test scores and high teacher and student absenteeism among other issues. Governor Gina Raimondo conceded that there have been reform efforts in the past after other reports highlighted similar failings.
“What I can tell you is that this time is going to be different if we make it different,” said Raimondo. “And that’s on us. If today is one day of outrage and then everybody goes about their business then we will have failed.”
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza agreed with the Governor during a Wednesday conference convened to discuss the report. Raimondo did not offer details on what role the state education department will have in running the city’s schools.
“But in light of the crisis that is before us, there is no scenario in which the state doesn’t get more involved,” said Raimondo.
Both Elorza and Raimondo called for a systemic overhaul of the schools, and said all policies and regulations are on the table for review. That could mean changes to the city teachers’ union contract.
“The contract is one part of it. But there’s so much more than that,” said Elorza. “There’s also legal at the state level, there’s legal at the city level, there are regulations at RIDE, policies on the school board. We have to look at every single level.”
The city’s public school teachers nailed down a contract this school year after acrimonious negotiations with the Mayor’s office. In that same Johns Hopkins report, the head of the Providence teachers’ union faulted Elorza for micromanaging the department, and creating a hostile atmosphere between teachers and the city administration.