There’s been something odd about the introduction of the new superintendent for the now-state-run Providence Schools. The absence of Mayor Jorge Elorza from the public introduction of Harrison Peters was inexplicable. The first Providence Journal article following that introduction, by union-friend Linda Borg as well as Madeleine List, starts with technical details about the district and the hire and then jumps to: “In Hillsborough County, where he is currently chief of schools, Peters has critics and his admirers.” The following details are much heavier from the “critics.”
And then there’s general emphasis on the fact that Providence appears to have been his second choice, after having not been chosen for a promotion to Hillsborough County superintendent, while he was “at least” the second choice of Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green, after her first offer fell through.
Talk about starting a new leader off on a negative footing!
Of course, nobody should simply be rah-rah, but the whole thing seems a bit like a typical Rhode Island self-fulfilling prophesy. From reformers’ perspective there is certainly reason for hope. After all, Peters touts “that he played an important part in lowering the number of ‘F’ schools in the district by 60 percent, decreasing the student suspension rate by 35 points, adding 10 ‘A’ schools and helping 15 schools improve from ‘D’ to ‘C.'”
Being from a state with some of the strongest school-choice programs in the country, he’ll bring with him knowledge of the tools Florida provides to administrators and families.
One does wonder whether some of the indifference and negativity that appears to surround his hiring indicates that Rhode Island insiders are setting the battleground to get their way knowing what he might conclude and advise.