Word came, today, that Mayor Angel Taveras won a $5 million prize from Bloomberg Philanthropies for a clever approach to improving childhood literacy. I wrote about the idea back in November. Here's the piece:
all know, on some level, that impoverished kids face long odds. But
quantification has a way of casting a problem like this in stark relief.
A new report from the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU finds flawed Internet filtering software and unaccountable public school administrators are effectively censoring student access to the web.
Among the material that's been blocked in Rhode Island schools: the Smithsonian web site, a video clip of the Nutcracker ballet, and a You Tube video on Social Security.
We'll be hearing more about "Story in the Public Square," a partnership between Salve Regina University's Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy and the Providence Journal, in the run-up to the initiative's April 12 conference.
But just a word about it here. The effort, spearheaded by the ProJo's G.
But listen closely to the mayor, and it's clear that his passion lies elsewhere - in education.
I spoke with him for my new cover story on the push to turn around Providence's failing schools.
Last week, I sat down with Providence Superintendent Sue Lusi to talk
reform and she unfurled a surprisingly radical vision for where the
city schools need to go.
America's traditional, centralized urban
districts are simply not working, she said. Look no further than
Providence, where 23 of the district's 37 schools have been identified
as in need of transformation.
The Hub, a Providence after school program for high schoolers, is getting some national attention for its innovative use of digital badges.
The badges - think online versions of Boy Scout badges - are used to recognize a skill developed outside the school day, often in the afterschool programs offered up by The Hub: participants are learning to design Android apps and build hot air balloons, among other things.
RISD President John Maeda has been the chief evangelist, for the past couple of years, for an idea known as "STEM to STEAM."
STEM, for the uninitiated, stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. And it is shorthand, in education reform and public policy circles, for an argument that the country needs to build its capacity in these areas if it's to keep its edge in the global economy.
Rhode Island's commentariat has given Governor Chafee relatively high marks for his budget proposal.
The praise has focused, most of all, on the budget's political virtues. After a doomed attempt to broaden the state's sales tax in the early portion of his term - raising the hackles of the business community and many legislators - this was a fiscal blueprint that received a relatively warm reception in the halls of power.
Well this is pretty cool.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has named Providence one of 20 finalists in its "Mayor's Challenge," which will dole out $9 million in grants to five cities with innovative ideas for tackling big problems.
The Providence proposal, one of 305 submitted this fall, aims to tackle the "vocabulary deficit."
Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has built a robust reputation as a reformer, making Time magazine's 100 most influential list a couple of years back
The Ocean State's reform brand is neatly aligned with a national, free market-inspired approach - favored by the Obama White House on down - that focuses on building a better teacher and encouraging charter schools.
That's right. My cover story this week is on the Nads, the Rhode Island School of Design's club hockey team, and their mascot Scrotie - a giant, randy, foam-and-nylon penis.
This one, I must say, practically wrote itself: tales of Scrotie's tortured relationship with Clammy, the giant, vulva-like mascot of the rival Clams hockey team; stories of former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci coaching for a night - brandy snifter in one hand and cigar in the other; I won't give away anymore.
Not for Nothing is back after a New Year's hiatus. Happy 2012, people. A few political/media notes and Occupy ruminations as we get back into the swing of things:
In this week's Phoenix, I've got a cover story on Brown University's Political Theory Project, which is right in the thick of an intriguing effort to bring a balanced political debate to one of the nation's most liberal campuses.
The institute caught my eye when I stumbled upon an online reference to one of its funders: Charles G.
Technology problems kept me off the blog yesterday. But I'm back with a
belated take on Geoffrey Canada, who was the headline speaker at a
well-attended Family Service of Rhode Island fundraiser at the Rhode Island Convention Center yesterday
Canada is the charismatic
figure behind the Harlem Children's Zone, a sweeping effort to transform the
lives of some 10,000 children in a 97-block area of Manhattan.
The death of Steve Jobs has inspired reflection nationwide. I spoke, this afternoon, with RISD President John Maeda, who has done plenty of thinking about technology and design - and Jobs's special place at their intersection. The interview is edited and condensed.
WHAT DOES THE DEATH OF STEVE JOBS HIGHLIGHT FOR THE REST OF US ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF DESIGN? I think it's making us think what design is all about.