PROVIDENCE — Students and teachers return to Providence schools Tuesday morning, but as they do, they’ll be accompanied by dozens of unanswered questions about what the state takeover of the district will look like.
The Globe wants to be part of the solution. In the two months since researchers from Johns Hopkins University released a scathing report detailing widespread dysfunction in the school system, deplorable building conditions and poor outcomes for kids, we’ve covered the fallout, in all its permutations. (You can read all of our coverage here.)
But it’s also important for you to hear directly from the stakeholders in this debate — those who best understand the risks and rewards of remaking the state’s largest school district. The Globe shouldn’t just be a place to get your news, it should be a place to convene and converse about topics like this.
So we asked six people — a former superintendent, a parent, a school board member, a charter school official, a professor from Brown University, and the president of the teachers’ union — to each write an op-ed explaining what they believe it will take to turn around the system. Below are links to the full text of what they had to say.
Sue Lusi, former schools superintendent, Providence: Fix Providence bureaucracy and student outcomes will improve
People might not realize how many hoops principals and teachers have to go through in order to make even basic changes to their schools. The former superintendent of schools explains why layers of bureaucracy stand in the way of progress.
Dalia Gómez de Hernández, parent: Providence failed my children. Now I want a seat at the table
The Johns Hopkins report made it clear that parent engagement is one of the district’s biggest challenges. A mother with two children who attended Providence schools and a third who starts school on Tuesday argues that people like her deserve to have more of a say in the future of Providence schools.
Travis Escobar, Providence School Board member: Providence takeover won’t work without community support
The Rhode Island Department of Education has come under scrutiny for not allowing public input in its search for the next superintendent of Providence schools. A member of the Providence School Board says the state needs to include families and community members in the decision-making process.
Keith Oliveira, executive director, Rhode Island League of Charter Schools: State was right to take over Providence schools
No one who has paid attention to Providence schools over the last 30 years was too surprised with most of the findings in the Johns Hopkins report. But the executive director of the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools makes the case that the city’s schools haven’t actually gotten worse over the last three decades.
Kenneth Wong, Brown University professor: Accountability and autonomy are key to turning around Providence schools
It’s one thing for the state to take over the school system. It’s another to implement the key strategies needed to improve the district. A Brown University professor says it’s time for leaders to use their political capital to transform city schools.
Maribeth Calabro, Providence Teachers Union: Teachers want to help with state takeover, but leaders should listen to us
Teachers have come under fire for much of the summer, but they’re going to play a key role in the state’s takeover of the district. The president of the Providence Teachers Union says it will take stability, a clear vision, mutual respect and precise communication for real change to occur.