By David Montenegro, Vincent Emery, AJ Whitworth, and Kinnan Dowie
Purple Post Executive President
Purple Post Contributing Writer and Sophomore at Saint Raphael Academy
Purple Post Contributing Writer and Freshman at the University of Rhode Island
Purple Post Contributing Writer and home-schooled Junior
In June 2019, devastating news shook the city of Providence and neighboring communities in Rhode Island. Johns Hopkins published a report that named Providence one of worst public school districts in the country. Some Providence officials didn’t seem to be bothered by all of the data that clearly showed how the PPSD was lacking compared to similar capital cities. In fact, according to the Johns Hopkins Report “… a full 90 percent of students are not proficient in math, and a full 86 percent are not proficient in English Language Arts.” In the week after the release of the John Hopkins report, parents, teachers, and students voiced their concern, but these demands for change were soon forgotten as the next week’s news cycle replaced the urgent cry for help from the community of Providence.
“Change is a strange thing, one day people want it, and the next, they seem to forget about what made them feel so passionate.” said Vincent Emery, a sophomore from Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket. “When I saw what was happening in my neighboring community, I was outraged by seeing what my friends had to endure.” David Montenegro, senior at Classical High School and lifelong Providence resident, expressed his dissent to the school system in which he grew up. “I feel fortunate for having gone through it, but it’s disappointing to see others fall under and not being able to thrive in these prime years.” Emery, Montenegro, and Whitworth decided it was time for a change. After writing a letter with the co-signatures of Representative Anastasia Williams and Michael Chippendale, they became founding members of the Improved Education Cooperative of Rhode Island (IEC).
Montenegro summarized the group’s mission by saying, “The goal of forming this Cooperative is to not only be a voice for the students of Providence, but for all school districts in the State of Rhode Island. Many of these districts are drastically lacking the leadership, funding, and counseling that my peers want and deserve.”
The Improved Education Cooperative of Rhode Island has already been making a splash by holding meetings with local and federal officials, to see what changes can be made. Interim Superintendent Francis Gallo has been instrumental in helping the Cooperative succeed by essentially acting as a policy review council for ideas drafted by the IEC.
AJ Whitworth, a Freshman at the University of Rhode Island, has also been a key player in working towards the improvement of the Providence Public School System.
“Now that I have started life in college, I see how imperative it is to have a strong academic presence leading up to where I am now. It really upsets me seeing students in Providence Schools not having access to the tools that will set them on the right path for their future.” Whitworth also went on to say, “Getting more counselors in Providence Schools is a top priority for us, especially since there is a scourge of mental health issues among the younger population.”
The Improved Education Cooperative of Rhode Island has some pretty exciting things planned for the future, and they are looking for community members who are interested in helping to change Providence Public Schools. If interested, please email the Cooperative at firstname.lastname@example.org.