Monday, April 05, 2010

Gist approves plan for Providence schools

This article underscores another HUGE benefit of shutting down some failing schools: namely, the mere threat of it completely changes the negotiation dynamics.  Hmmm, anyone think it's a coincidence that the Providence, RI teachers union is willing to play ball on REAL reforms after seeing what happened to their colleagues in Central Falls???

State Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist has approved the Providence School Department's plan to create an innovative new labor-management partnership to run four of the state's worst-performing schools.

This clears the way for Supt. Tom Brady and Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith to develop detailed reform plans for each of the four schools: Charlotte Woods Elementary, Feinstein Elementary at Sackett Street, Roger Williams Middle School and Cooley Health and Science Technical High School.

Gist, in January, identified six schools in Rhode Island that are among the worst-performing in the state. The other two are Central Falls High School and Feinstein High School in Providence. Brady, however, has recommended that Feinstein be closed under a separate school-facilities plan.

…Providence is believed to be the first district in the nation to adopt a labor-management partnership to transform its lowest-performing schools. Although the details have yet to be hammered out, Brady envisions two levels of collaboration: one at the district level and one at the school level.

After significant public involvement, Brady decided to adopt the "restart" model, one of four reform options established by the U.S. Department of Education. Gist included language in the regulations that specifically permits a labor-management collaboration. The federal regulations allow a charter school or an educational management company to run low-performing schools.

The Providence approach differs sharply from the one adopted by Central Falls, where Supt. Frances Gallo fired the entire high school staff after the union refused to accept elements of Gallo's reform plan.

Although the restart option gives Providence considerable flexibility, Gist expects the district to make significant changes, including extending the school day, creating a rigorous teacher-evaluation system and implementing a uniform curriculum (which the district has already begun).

Unlike Central Falls, Providence won't fire its teachers but they will have to re-apply for their jobs. Unlike some of the other options, the restart option does not call for principals to be fired.


Gist approves plan for Providence schools

06:58 AM EDT on Friday, April 2, 2010

By Linda Borg

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