Steven Smith stepping down as Providence Teacher Union president

Feb 9, 2014

Steven Smith, a former state representative and the longtime president of the Providence Teachers Union, is retiring.

Smith says his retirement after 33 years as a teacher and union leader is scheduled to be considered by the Providence School Board at a meeting tomorrow.

After an initial battle when Providence Mayor Angel  Taveras fired all city teachers after first taking office in 2011, Smith and the city administration have forged a fairly good relationship. The city is currently in negotiations with the union. Smith says those talks are going well. The current contract expires at the end of August, just before the start of a new school year.  

Smith, 58, has also been a leader in the union’s efforts to back the `Race to the Top’ education initiative championed by state education officials that harvested $75 million for Rhode Island schools. And he and his union, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, have opposed efforts to use high-stakes testing, such as the NECAP test, as a high school graduation requirement.

Smith was at the Statehouse for 20 years representing the Silver Lake neighborhood of Providence. As a state rep he was known for advocacy of Providence issues.

Smith has been union president since 2003. He fought off a challenge to his leadership in 2012, when he defeated Anna Kuperman to win reelection as union chief. Smith will be initially by Maribeth Calabro, union vice-president, Smith said.

But Kuperman has told Dan McGowan of that she will run again when the union holds an election later this year. Smith reportedly taking another position in the organized labor movement, but declined comment on his next move.