Providence teachers push back against harsh report on schools

Madeleine List:

Providence teachers describe a climate of negativity, an air of uncertainty and a culture of blame hovering over their district since the release of a report by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy this summer on the state of the schools.

But for them, the anxiety caused by the scathing report, the impending state takeover and what they see as a barrage of criticism aimed at them in the media, fades away when they greet their students.

“The moment we step on the front step of that school, that’s it, you leave it there,” said Cynthia Robles, a special education collaborative teacher at Roger Williams Middle School. “You have to leave that negativity at the door, because the kids are depending on you.”

Six educators from around the district shared this week what it’s like to be a teacher in the thick of a national controversy over their schools.

“It doesn’t affect me one bit, one bit,” said Allison Campbell, a kindergarten dual-language English teacher at Carl G. Lauro Elementary School, who said she always gets swept up in her students and the pace of the school day.

But about 100 teachers have resigned this year, some because they were recruited by other districts and others because of the mounting pressure on Providence teachers in the wake of the report, said Ed German, dean of students at Hope High School.

“People don’t want to be associated with education in Providence,” he said. “We’ve lost good administrators. We’ve lost good teachers

Richard Zimman (2009 – then Ripon, WI Superintendent):

Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.”