Articles tagged with Rhode Island

Riffs cause rift between RI union and district officials

1194985021415637292axe_peterm__svg_medI just love a good fuss. There’s something truly entertaining about adults frothing at the mouth and blowing an issue all out of proportion.

That seems to be the case in Providence, R.I., where the teachers union is all up in arms over the school system’s decision to send out dismissal notices to all 1,926 teachers in the city.

School officials say the notices make sense. As Superintendent Tom Brady told the Providence Journal, state law requires the district to notify teachers by March 1 if there’s the possibility that their employment status could change.

And, confronted with a potential $40 million budget deficit next year, “a dismissal letter to all teachers was necessary to give the mayor, the school board, and the district maximum flexibility to consider every cost savings option, including reductions in staff.”

That makes sense to me. It would be a tad difficult to balance the budget if you tell only 100 teachers that they might lose their jobs—and then you need to lay off 150.

It also makes sense because, if there’s any flexibility in state law and the teachers’ contract, the sweeping dismissal notice allows school officials to avoid the first-hired, first-fired phenomenon that so often surrounds teacher layoffs.

Why lose a promising young talent or hard-to-find science teacher when there are less effective teachers who can go on the chopping block?

I like the idea that teacher layoffs might actually be determined by the educational needs of students.

Naomi Dillon|March 3rd, 2011|Categories: Governance, Teachers, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , , |

Failing R.I. high school backing away from axing its entire staff

stockvault_7682_20070524We’ve spent a lot of cyber-pages here at the Leading Source debating the impact of good and bad teachers, layoffs, and getting rid of ineffective teachers and school leaders. Of course, one of the most recent episodes that piqued our interest was the mass firing of all teachers and staff at the troubled Central Falls High School in Rhode Island.

The case gained national attention after President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and many others praised the move, although some of us here questioned whether removing all the teachers was the best strategy—given that a complete upheaval would undoubtedly remove some good teachers who had ties to the transitional and predominantly immigrant community.

And while dozens of people from across the country had applied to replace those teachers, we questioned whether outsiders would stay long enough to get the school back on track. I’m sure there were many, many other conversations about this move and what it foreshadowed for the future of education.

Well, nevermind. This weekend we learned that all the Central Falls High teachers will keep their jobs, after a deal with the local teacher’s union.

Naomi Dillon|May 17th, 2010|Categories: Governance, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , , |

Child abuse and neglect main theme of film, but lack of education plays a supporting role, too

I don’t get out to the movies very often—just never enough time. The good thing about DVDs is the bonus scenes, director’s comments, even an alternate ending or two.

So I finally watched “Precious” this weekend. If you’re not familiar, it’s based on the story of Claireece “Precious” Jones, a severely obese, 16-year-old African-American girl growing up in Harlem in the late 1980s. She lives with her abusive mother and is frequently raped by her father–who is also the father of her two children. A heavyweight, to say the least.

The one thing that’s prevalent through the film (which was based on the novel Push by poet Sapphire) is education. Precious is illiterate, attending crowded out-of-control middle school classes. When her principal learns she’s pregnant with her second child, she suspends her, but attempts to persuade her to go to an alternative school to get her GED. Despite Precious’ mother’s attempts to keep her at home and keep her welfare checks, Precious gives it a try.


Naomi Dillon|March 22nd, 2010|Categories: Governance, Student Achievement, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , |

In Rhode Island, cameras not just wheels are on the bus


Courtesy of

How many motorists drive by a stopped school bus with red flashing lights? Apparently, a lot more than you’d imagine.

At least, that’s the impression offered by a Providence Journal  article on the experiences of Rhode Island school systems that are putting surveillance cameras on their school buses.

According to the Journal, Providence police issued only nine traffic citations in 2007 to motorists who passed a stopped school bus.

But, after equipping 10 buses with surveillance cameras pointed to the front of the bus, more than 590 violations were recorded in just five months.

What should you make of that?

Surprise is the reaction of the owner of the surveillance camera company: “I didn’t think there would be so many who would do something as egregious as pass a school bus, especially when the stop sign is out and the lights are flashing. But it’s an epidemic.”

Personally, I’d be curious to know what your school bus drivers have to say. Are drivers more responsible in your communities?

Or do you not hear about the problem because bus drivers just resigned to the reality of it all.

Naomi Dillon|June 4th, 2009|Categories: Governance, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |
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