An Open Letter from the Providence Youth Caucus

May 6, 2016

The Providence Youth Caucus (PYC) unites youth leaders from six of Providence’s strongest youth organizations, including Providence Student Union, New Urban Arts, RIUDL, H20, Young Voices, and Youth In Action. We have been working together for the past year, meeting with the Mayor, Superintendent, and district staff to push for changes in our schools, including personalized learning and more effective discipline practices.

On April 13, 2016, we organized the #RealTalk Forum, which brought together more than 100 youth to discuss ideas for how to improve Providence schools. Our goal was to take the best ideas and share them with leaders to push for changes in our schools. The results will be presented to the Superintendent and School Board, and we will meet with the Superintendent to make sure we win these changes. We call on our city and district leaders to work on the following issues:

On Discipline, students believe…
  • suspensions and detentions are overused
  • suspensions are also given unfairly; some students believe teachers avoid suspending “favorites”, others perceive racial disparities
  • that restorative justice practices would improve Providence high schools
On Personalized Learning, students believe…
  • more interactive and engaging classes would increase attendance and graduation rates
  • it is important to be able to learn in multiple ways, not “one-size-fits-all”
  • schools should offer cultural studies / ethnic studies
On Climate and Culture, students believe…
  • schools need more teachers/administrators of color; staff need cultural training
  • their school’s temperature is often too hot / too cold
  • they need a break; students used “stress” more than any other word to describe school
  • their schools need to shed their bad reputations
On Student Voice, students believe…
  • they have limited voice in schools
  • that they and others don’t speak up because they feel they are or would be ignored
  • they need opportunities to make “real decisions”
On Arts, students believe…
  • their talents are going unnoticed
  • art provides relief from the stress of other classes
  • their schools need to offer a greater variety of arts classes
  • art programs are deeply under-resourced

This post originally appeared on the Providence Youth Caucus website. 

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