Dear Community Member:
I am pleased that Dr. Susan F. Lusi has been appointed as the Interim Superintendent of Providence Public Schools. As the current Superintendent of the Portsmouth School Department, Dr. Lusi is a highly-regarded educator and manager with strong local ties. I have every confidence that during the next year she will lead education reform and improve student outcomes in our school district.
As we begin this new era, I want to share with you my thoughts regarding the future of public education in Providence.
Education has played a pivotal role in my life. As a third grader at Mary Fogarty Elementary School, it was my teacher, Mrs. Dorothy Donaldson, who encouraged me to join a gifted program and chase my dream of becoming a lawyer. I know firsthand how a public education and quality teachers can change a life. It changed mine.
Over the last five months, I have had the honor of visiting many of our City's schools and I have seen that every day, in classrooms across the city, teachers inspire our students the same way that Mrs. Donaldson inspired me years ago.
All of our children deserve the educational opportunities that I had growing up in Providence. My number one priority as Mayor of Providence is to ensure that every child, regardless of life circumstance, receives an education that enables them to achieve their full potential.
Despite the numerous individual successes that I have seen in my visits to schools, it is clear that as a school district, we have a long way to go. It is unacceptable that in two years, nine Providence schools have been identified by the Rhode Island Department of Education as persistently low achieving. Our children deserve better.
I credit teachers, students, parents, and community members for the progress some schools are making. But no school in Providence should be persistently low achieving. Raising student achievement should be our highest priority. Our children need and deserve an education that will enable them to reach their full potential.
As Mayor, and as someone profoundly affected by public education, I want to share with parents, students, educators, and every resident of our City of my vision for Providence's public school system:
It is a challenging time. In Boston, New York, Detroit, Kansas City, and other major cities, municipalities have been forced to close schools to address massive budget deficits. The crisis that Providence faces is real and formidable and has required drastic actions on multiple fronts. Closing schools is one the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.
As we move forward, I have every confidence that we can make Providence schools the envy of American public education. When I visit schools, I see myself in the children I meet. I sat in the chairs where they now sit and I take my responsibility for their future seriously. Working to improve their education will be a priority for me and my administration every single day that I am Mayor.
I have charged the Education Opportunity Working Group with translating this vision into recommended actions for my administration. The Education Opportunity Working Group will engage with educators, community members, and other stakeholders throughout the summer to hear your thoughts. As we turn our attention to the future, I will also work with the School Board and the community to recruit a new permanent Superintendent who will lead the next generation of transformation of Providence's Public Schools.
Hard work lies ahead. However, I am committed to making sure that when I leave the Mayor's office, our schools are vastly improved. I hope you will join us as we work to transform education in Providence. I know I cannot do it without you.
Please feel free to contact my education team at email@example.com with your thoughts and opinions on ways to move Providence education forward. Thank you.
Mayor Angel Taveras