Scathing review of Providence schools is released

"This makes me sick to think that this is the perception of my schools, my teachers, and my kids."

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — An independent review of the Providence public school system has found severe dysfunction, including rampant bullying and fighting among students, crumbling facilities, and a tangled bureaucracy with no clear lines of authority.

The scathing 93-page report by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy released Tuesday night concluded that everyone from the school district to the teachers union to the state Department of Education is failing children.

The review found that many students don’t take school seriously enough, that parents feel left out and that poor teachers are almost impossible to fire.

The review was ordered by Gov. Gina Raimondo and Mayor Jorge Elorza, both Democrats. Raimondo said in April that she wasn’t ruling out any options for remedies after the review was completed, including a state takeover.

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New state Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green told WPRO-AM Wednesday morning that she will be heavily involved in fixing the system, but she didn’t call for a state takeover of it. She knew city schools were poor, she said, but she was surprised by just how bad things are.

“I don’t want to play the blame game because since I’ve gotten here, there’s a lot of finger pointing going on,” she said. “That gets us nowhere. And I just don’t want to do that because we can blame everyone. We can fire everyone; then who’s going to do the job?”

Providence Teachers Union President Maribeth Calabro told the station that if a state takeover is what it takes to move forward, “then so be it.”

“This makes me sick to think that this is the perception of my schools, my teachers and my kids,” she said.

Teachers cried at the meeting as the report was released, according to WJAR-TV.