Guest MINDSETTER™ Dan Lawlor: Providence Schools are Broken. Literally.
Saturday, February 04, 2012
This article is not about failing public schools. This article is about falling public schools. There are several temples of democracy in the great City of Providence, namely our public middle schools, that are falling down, like Humpty Dumpty.
Gilbert Stuart Middle School, located off Elmwood Avenue between the Knight Memorial Library and the West End Community Center, has exit doors surrounded by scaffolding to prevent bricks from falling onto the heads of children as they leave the building. The scaffolded exits have been in existence for several years now.
The defunct Oliver Hazard Perry Middle School, whose students now attend the overcrowded Del Sesto Middle School (built on a formerly toxic site), was notorious for its enter through the backdoor policy in its last year or two of existence. Due to the danger of crumbling stones, parents and students were advised to enter the building from the back, as the front entrance was seen as too dangerous. Now the school is a bible studies institute.
Back in 2004, the Providence Housing Authority issued a report on resident services stating, "As has been the case for nearly 20 years, the design and scope of our programs and services depends more on the restraints of available funding than necessarily on the needs of our residents." In 2011, similar claims can be made for many of the buildings our children, particularly our working class and immigrant children, attend.
I am ecstatic that quality public school buildings exist in Providence. Yet who do they exist for? The West End neighborhood deserves school buildings that aren't falling apart, and the Olneyville neighborhood deserves schools that are not overcrowded. These are hardly revolutionary propositions.
I remember talking with a friend after we had visited a successful public school in Boston - and realized that the "success" we were amazed by simply that the adults followed basic protocols, procedures and a calendar. Basic functioning appeared exceptional because for so long the bar has been so low. Similarly, I am impressed by the renovations of Central, Nathan Bishop, and PCTA. Yet, I should not be.
Quality public school buildings in the United States of America should be a baseline, a non-exceptional baseline for all our children. The only connection between Humpty Dumpty and our schools should be during story time.
Dan Lawlor is a Providence resident and a teacher in Fall River.
If you valued this article, please LIKE GoLocalProv.com on Facebook by clicking HERE.
Enjoy this post? Share it with others.
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.