Rhode Island · School Talk

Pawtucket: A Tale of Two Cities, An Injustice for Students

As R.I. weighs a $2.2B investment in crumbling buildings, Pawtucket offers a study in contrasts, with the rewards of renovation and the risks of delayed repairs visible on the same street. –Providence Journal, January 28, 2018

The Providence Journal has begun a series on what they describe as Rhode Island’s “decrepit” schools. Here is an excerpt of the first piece in the series, by Linda Borg. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume we can all agree that no child, anywhere, should ever be forced to spend their days in a school so dilapidated that it sends the message to every student zoned to attend that they aren’t important. And neither is their education.

This city is a tale of two school districts.

On one side of Newport Avenue, Potter Burns Elementary School is a striking example of what a modern school should be.

Natural light pours in from the windows and skylights. The walls are painted in bold primary colors. Air-quality sensors regulate the amount of oxygen in each classroom. The cafeteria has acoustical tiles to dampen noise.

There are separate practice rooms for music and art. The kindergarten classrooms have pint-size water fountains so instruction isn’t interrupted by frequent trips to the bubbler in the hall. The building is air-conditioned, and heat is evenly distributed throughout the classrooms.

Across the street, Lyman B. Goff Middle School looks like the “before” photographs of Potter Burns. Built in 1932, the school has frosted windows that block much of the natural light.

The flat roof doesn’t drain properly, so water leaks onto some of the ceilings, which are constantly being patched.The kitchen sink leaks into the freshly renovated auditorium, where water has pushed up some of the tiles. In the kitchen, a bucket stands ready to catch water from the dripping sink.

The lockers are battered. Some don’t close.

To continue reading the full piece in the Providence Journal, click here. 


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