Angel Taveras is often hailed as the prototypical progressive political candidate. But if there exists a chink in this armor it is his support for the so-called “education reform” movement.
Today Taveras travels to Denver to meet with other mayors who, like him have pushed for more charter schools, less experienced Teach for America-style educators and promoted Common Core guidelines that will result in more teaching to the test.
WPRI reports: “Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is joining the mayors of Denver, San Antonio and Sacramento, Calif. for a tour to promote education reform and highlight the work being done to improve public schools in each of their communities.”
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is not only a former NBA player, he’s also married to Michelle Rhee, a godmother of the ed. deform/high stakes test/ student accountability movement who mentored Deborah Gist. KJ was also fined for not reporting political donations his education reform charity solicited.
The good news is Taveras told WPRI he will introduce Johnson and the other mayors to the members of the Providence Student Union when the group visits the Ocean State in January.
Taveras also co-authored an op/ed in Politico yesterday with the three other mayors he meets with today. Of Providence’s efforts to fix urban education, the post says:
Providence is focused on the strategies necessary to dramatically raise the percentage of students reading on grade level by the end of third grade. Working with a coalition of community partners, the city is placing hundreds of high-impact volunteers in classrooms, boosting kindergarten readiness, expanding meaningful summer learning opportunities and working to address chronic absenteeism. Providence’s comprehensive plan to invest in young people and improve third-grade reading proficiency has earned national recognition, including designation by the National Civic League as a 2012 All-America City for Grade-Level Reading and the $5 million grand prize in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ inaugural Mayors Challenge.
Of course, this isn’t all Providence has done to address public education. Early in his tenure, Taveras fired every Providence teacher. According to WPRI, the layoffs were “part of a cost-cutting strategy, a decision [Taveras] now calls a ‘mistake.'”
Taveras also supported the highly-controversial corporate-style charter school Achievement First, a chain of charters that currently operates in New York in Connecticut. The AF proposal was rejected by Cranston, because that community thought it would be siphon too many resources from traditional public schools, before Taveras openly courted it to come to Providence.
Charter schools and the so-called “school choice” movement have – at best – proven to be beneficial for the few and costly for the vast majority of students in the public school system. Continuing to support this strategy will result in fewer Providence students being in a position to go from “Head Start to Harvard.” To that end, I hope Mayor Taveras looks for a better way to eradicate the achievement gap in public education between affluent suburbs and struggling cities. The education reform status quo has proven entirely ineffective at addressing this issue.