School Reform At Issue In Teachers Dispute

Providence – Both sides expect tensions, when negotiations on a new contract for Providence teachers resume. Union leaders and Superintendent Diana Lam say the contract will determine the future of education reform in Providence.

?There are very few things more dangerous or frightening than reform. It forces people to change and leave behind comfortable old ways of doing things, but without reform and without change, nothing would ever improve. This is a pivotal moment for the providence school system and the Families it serves. The union has within its power to continue progress towards reform or retreat,? said Lam.

The only unresolved contract issue between the School department and union was a city demand that teachers attend mandatory hour-long training sessions once a week. Providence Teachers Union Director Joseph Almagno said teachers had other concerns,?The only thing in her proposal is control issues, controlling sick leave, controlling personal business days, controlling curriculum, eliminating academic freedom. Where is that reform minded??

Superintendent lam acknowledges demanding more from teachers. She says there have been improvements, as a result, in literacy, in instruction, and in professional development. A major task ahead, she says, is re-designing high schools so that students receive more consistent, individual attention.

Hear the full report of WRNI?s Martha Bebinger from Morning Edition.