As students in Providence, Rhode Island, head back to school this year, the district has several things to celebrate, including a $100,000 legislative grant to support the launch and development of United Providence!, a new nonprofit education management organization (EMO) designed to support transformation efforts in several of the district’s most struggling schools. United Providence! is unique in that it is a joint labor-management undertaking, making it the first EMO of its kind in the country. United Providence! marks a historic and truly innovative undertaking by union and district leadership. In February 2012, the Providence Teachers Union and Providence Public School District received a planning grant from The Rhode Island Foundation to design the organization. Now, less than a year later, United Providence! is taking off as the first joint labor-management EMO in the country. United Providence!’s mission is to maximize student achievement in Providence’s most struggling schools by promoting innovation and fostering a truly collaborative environment for teaching and learning. United Providence! serves as a groundbreaking national model for student-centered collaboration between labor and management.
United Providence! will operate as a Lead Partner supporting turnaround efforts in three of the district’s lowest-performing schools. Providence has established a robust district-wide transformation strategy to address what Mass Insight describes as the 3 C’s of school turnaround; the partnership with United Providence! is key piece of that strategy. First, United Providence! brings additional capacity to the system, in particular the targeted schools. Second, Providence has strategically clustered its schools based on grade level, need, and emerging feeder patterns; United Providence!’s cluster will include one elementary, one middle, and one high school. Lastly, the Providence Teachers Union and Providence Public School District have launched a collaborative effort to secure increased autonomy and flexible conditions in these schools. As we strongly advocate for the use of similar strategies in school turnaround, we hope to see this become a proof point of the effectiveness the 3 C’s model.
See Rhode Island’s legislative press release here.
Full disclosure: The School Turnaround Group has worked with the Providence Public School District and Providence Teachers Union, including in-depth on this innovative initiative, since summer 2011.