Teacher nonprofit: Lack of structure in Providence schools detrimental to education


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — One day after a catastrophic report was released about Providence Public Schools, a teaching program says it is troubled by the lack of discipline and safety for both teachers and students in the district.

The report was completed by the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Education Policy. Researchers were sent to 12 unnamed Providence schools, where they reported devastating observations.

Researchers interviewed dozens of people including teachers, administrators, parents, students, city councilors, school board members, the mayor and the superintendent.

Kristene Frech from Teach For America RI said her program places approximately 60% of its teachers in the capital city. When asked if the report was accurate, she said yes.

“It is heartbreaking. It is devastating,” Frech said. “It’s devastating to think about a generation of kids that is experiencing this in classrooms today.”

The report reveals many teachers are working tirelessly in the Providence school system, but feel demoralized and unsupported. Teachers and students also told researchers at Johns Hopkins University they feel unsafe within their own schools.

Many of the teachers who spoke with the research team said there are no disciplinary expectations or support to maintain behavioral norms. In one instance, the report cites a teacher was choked by a student with no apparent repercussions.

“Every parent, every student, every teacher should know if this happens, this is the expectation of the next consequence,” Frech said.

Frech said a lack of behavioral structure can, in turn, affect other students’ ability to learn.

“It is undeniable that if expectations are high and academic rigor is high, students are set up for success,” she said.

Frech said the school district needs to be focused on moving forward and ensuring parents, teachers and students all have a seat at the table to discuss solutions.

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green invited people from all across the state to attend eight public forums to discuss the issues at hand, allowing everyone to come up with solutions together.

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