Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The danger is...the system will go flat.

Those were the words by RI Education Commissioner, Peter McWalters, as he referenced the departure of Providence School Superintendent Melody Johnson. She's leaving the cool breeze of March wind (ok, so maybe freezing breeze) for the heat of Fort Worth. I guess we can't fault her for returning to the state she's been at for twenty-four years and I don't actually want to focus on whether it's right or wrong that she has decided to leave. The main question is: will the system go flat? Providence needs a strong, culturally aware, and intellectualy resourceful educator to clean up this very murky system. Consider that during Ms. Johnson's tenure, generally speaking, test scores went up whereas the drop-out rate continued to increase. The forgotten schools are the schools of Hope, Mount, and Central. If you take a look at Information Works which provides testing data, you get real scared when thinking of what a Providence Education means in society. Example, according to their 2005 report, Hope, Mount, and Central were making insufficient progress towards one or more academic targets, while being labeled schools in need of improvement, having missed one or more academic targets. For Hope and Mount Pleasant this was the 4th consecutitve year they have failed to demonstrate sufficient progress! But parents whose children attend Central can feel good-your child's school has NOT been making sufficient progress for only 2 years. Perhaps, the question isn't will the system go flat? Perhaps the question is, will the system continue to go South for Providence public High Schools? All we can hope for is that the next Superintendent is as appalled and fed up at these numbers as you and I are. Otherwise, three years from now the mayor, et. al., will be singing the praise of yet another outgoing superintendent while our children languish perilously behind their peers. We cannot allow this to happen.


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