Kislak report calls for Providence to think of post-takeover future

Rhode Island Current

PROVIDENCE — A new report from a state legislator on the effects of state takeovers of schools calls on people to consider their governing structure in the state capital when the state takeover ends. 

Published Monday, the report by Rep. Rebecca Kislak, a Providence Democrat, examined governing structures for a future Providence Public School District (PPSD) when the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) takeover ends in 2025. 

“The need to improve our schools in Providence is not new,” Kislak said in the report’s cover letter. “We must figure out a way forward that supports our kids and creates lasting and sustainable change for our schools.

“Whether under state or local management, successful schools are focused on and accountable to the communities they serve,” Kislak continued. “We can work to make that happen now, and as the schools transition back to local control.”

RIDE took over Providence public schools in October 2019, shortly after a damning Johns Hopkins University analysis of the district. The analysis found “unusually deep, systemic dysfunctions” including infrastructure issues, low staff morale, high levels of student disengagement, and racial inequity in test scores. 

The Kislak report, put together by the legislator and intern Alissa Simon, examined the effects of takeovers across the country in the 1990s and 2000s, when such policies were en vogue. The report concluded that takeovers seldom improved test scores and community engagement.

“I think that that report shows that, on average, the state takeover efforts aren’t so successful,” said John Papay, director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. “They don’t lead to dramatic changes in student outcomes.”


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