NEW: New Partnership Announced for Failing Providence Schools
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
The Rhode Island Foundation announced Tuesday morning that it will make a grant of $100,000 to support the creation of United Providence (UP!), a unique labor-management compact between the Providence Public School District and the Providence Teachers Union, AFT Local 958.
The cooperative effort is one of the first such efforts of its kind between labor and management in the country. UP! leadership hopes that it will also become a replicable model for Rhode Island and elsewhere.
“This partnership is an important step for Providence schools,” said Neil D. Steinberg, Rhode Island Foundation president and CEO. “Given the Foundation’s strong ongoing commitment to public education in our state, we are confident that working together to address the challenges that have been identified, the district and the union will make a tremendous difference in turning around these three schools.”
“I thank the Rhode Island Foundation for this $100,000 grant to support creation of labor-management partnership to steer our struggling schools,” said Mayor Angel Taveras. “Working to improve the education of every child in Providence is a top priority for me and my administration. With the continued involvement and support of every stakeholder in our community, I have no doubt that we can give every child the education that he or she deserves, and make Providence schools one of the best urban school districts in America.”
UP! was first imagined by PTU President Steven Smith and then-Superintendent Thomas Brady with the 2009 identification of several “Persistently Lowest Achieving” schools in Providence by the Rhode Island Department of Education, now called Innovation Schools by the district. The idea did not come to fruition at that time, with prohibitive deadlines and subsequent management changes, but the seeds of UP! were revived in fall 2011 by Smith and Superintendent Dr. Susan F. Lusi as a way to address the needs of certain of the five more schools given this designation in October.
“We are so pleased that the Rhode Island Foundation sees the vast potential and vision behind this work, and has decided to fund our start-up efforts,” said Lusi. “This is a demanding, exciting, and promising process that we believe will yield great results in the education of our children.”
UP! was the partner recommended by the Superintendent to RIDE for three schools. Carl G. Lauro Elementary School, Gilbert Stuart Middle School and Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School will undergo intervention under the “Restart” model put forth by the U.S. Department of Education, which requires that a school convert or close and re-open under a different operating model, such as a charter school operator, a charter management organization, or an education management organization. The other two schools named in 2011, Pleasant View Elementary and Mt. Pleasant High School, are pursuing the Transformation model being used by all of the earlier-named schools.
“We welcome the support of the Rhode Island Foundation,” said Steven F. Smith, Providence Teachers Union president. “We firmly believe in this model and have long advocated for a strong labor-management partnership. We look forward to the success of United Providence, with the hope of replicating this model throughout the district.”
UP!’s Labor-Management Compact will be based on reciprocal obligation; student and school success; and specific scopes of influence for the UP! executive board, staff, and school teams. UP! proposes to function as a Lead Partner to three Providence Innovation schools, receiving management authority and flexibility in exchange for accountability for results. Lead partners will agree to sign a 3-5 year performance contract with the Providence School Board for student achievement that holds the Lead Partner accountable for improving achievement in the schools to which they are assigned.
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