PTU: Providence Schools Need More Diverse Teacher Workforce, and Don’t Blame Teacher Contract for Lack of Progress

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For Immediate Release
March 12, 2021

Maribeth Calabro


Point-by-Point Refutation of Claims Made by Education Commissioner Infante-Green and Providence Superintendent Peters


PROVIDENCE, R.I.—The Providence Teachers Union issued today a point-by-point refutation of claims made by the two top education officials overseeing Providence public schools, saying there is “absolutely nothing” in the teacher contract to prevent the district from hiring a more diverse teacher workforce.

In an email to all staff and made public earlier this week, Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Angelica Infante-Green and Providence Superintendent Harrison Peters blamed the PTU’s contract for problems in recruiting and hiring teachers of color.

The PTU refuted that, saying in the two-page fact sheet that there is no disagreement on the need for a more diverse teacher workforce in Providence, but rather on how to get there and who is responsible. The PTU said that while some strides have been made, every year there are scores of openings that are not filled with teachers of color. Currently, there are 65 Providence teacher vacancies.

“Contrary to the commissioner’s and superintendent’s comments aiming to shift the reason for this failure to the PTU contract, absolutely nothing in the teacher contract prevents the district from hiring whomever they want to for these numerous open positions—nothing,” the fact sheet said.

It noted that the PTU has offered progressive proposals at the bargaining table to increase and retain a diverse workforce, but in the end, it is the district’s responsibility to hire new teachers.

According to an Annenberg Institute for School Reform report released in December 2020, the Providence school district receives 10 to 12 applications per open position, on average, compared with 28 applications per teaching position nationally, along with fewer applications for hard-to-teach subjects. “A progressive contract that treats teachers and staff as respected partners would do a lot to attract new applicants to our city,” the PTU said.


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