Statement from Councilwoman Rachel M. Miller
This first day of school I know that students, parents, teachers, and administrators are putting their heart and effort into a positive first day back for our city’s youth. I also know that everyone must be feeling anxious and uncertain- while our city is united in acknowledging the crisis facing our schools, we’ve had so little information on what’s coming next, it’s hard to feel anything but uncertain.
As a city councilor, here’s my back to school commitment:
I will support a state intervention that gives meaningful structural decision making and voice to students and parents. I believe that’s the critical missing piece. If we’re serious about long-term change, not surface change- if we want to truly change the culture that brought us here- student and parent participation in decision making is non-negotiable. This means finding a path that goes well beyond listening sessions and community forums.
I will support a state intervention that includes a transparent process, accountable to the public, not just the state and city structures that got us here. Let’s make these critical decisions about our schools in the light of day, where public input is taken seriously and responded to.
I will support a state intervention that includes a turn-around plan beyond improvements in reading and math scores. Let’s make sure that we’re also measuring improvements in social-emotional supports, cultural competency, and behavioral interventions that embrace difference. Let’s embrace a plan to change how it feels to be in a Providence Public School every day. Let’s create a culture that embraces learning, curiosity, and a deep respect for one another.
I will support a state intervention that looks hard at school buildings and the health of students and teachers learning and teaching in those buildings. One that looks at funding mechanisms for our schools and understands that we didn’t get to this crisis point overnight- this has been a long time coming and every state institution, taxpayer, elected or appointed official, has a piece of this and can give a hand in creating positive, lasting change.
No one has a silver bullet for widescale change for our youth. But I think the students and parents who are organizing together know what won’t work- because it’s failed multiple generations of students already. Let’s make sure that this process ends the cycle of failing our young people. Let’s stand up for a process that is transparent and accountable to youth and to parents. Parents and students have a right to know what is being planned for their futures. That’s my back to school commitment- I’ll keep standing up for that voice, and that right, as we enter into a state process.
Rachel M. Miller
Providence City Council
Councilwoman – Ward 13