PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The head of the country’s largest teachers union paid a visit to Providence Wednesday as the district deals with ongoing turmoil, which includes calls for the current superintendent to step down.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, toured a couple of the city’s schools and highlighted the hard work of teachers and students, who have successfully navigated learning during a pandemic.
“We are seeing the remarkable job educators have done to try to engage kids in a once in a century pandemic,” Weingarten said.
Weingarten also addressed a variety of serious issues plaguing the district, including retaining a more diverse teaching staff and reopening plans for the fall.
“As we are looking at COVID in the rear-view mirror, we need to plan for the recovery of our kids, emotional, social and academic,” Weingarten said.
When asked about the state takeover and the district’s contract with the Providence Teachers Union, she said, “there’s been a family contentious collective bargaining.”
She even took a shot at R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green about her handling of the negotiations.
“You have a mediator now working on it, so there is always an issue with this current commissioner of education,” Weingarten said. “There’s always an issue, it’s always somebody else’s fault as opposed to sitting down and rolling up your sleeves.”
In response to Weingarten’s comment, a spokesperson for the R.I. Department of Education said, “Conversations around the contract are ongoing and RIDE remains at the table.”
“The commissioner’s focus is — and has been — on reaching a resolution that reflects the best interests of students,” the spokesperson said. “She is committed to collaborating with all stakeholders to carry out the Providence Turnaround Action Plan, which was crafted with input from community members.”
Superintendent Harrison Peters, who’s come under fire for hiring the former school administrator that was recently accused of forcibly rubbing an underage boy’s foot, did not join Weingarten during her time in the capital city.