Failing Facilities: Why PC Needs to Help Providence Public Schools

by The Cowl Editor on September 27, 2019


Several pre-orientation groups, such as Faith Works and Urban Action, collaborate in a “Joint Day of Service” in the Providence community at the beginning of the year. However, PC needs to make a more concerted, long-term effort to
help improve the condition of Providence’s public schools. Photo courtesy of Providence College News.


by Savannah Plaisted ’21

Opinion Staff

Over the summer, Johns Hopkins University released a study regarding the current state of Providence public schools. The results were immensely disturbing and have resulted in the Rhode Island Commissioner of Education calling for the state to step in and take over the failing schools. 

Not only are there failures on the part of teachers, school leaders, and the Board of Education, but one of the most concerning aspects of the report was the physical state of the buildings themselves. 

The study said, “In all but one of the schools, the buildings were in very poor—in one, absolutely dire—condition. In some cases, the facilities clearly disrupted learning and possibly students’ health.”

Due to the fact that schools are falling apart right here at home, Providence College should be doing something to help the community.

PC offers various programs to students that allow them to give back to Providence schools in various ways, such as the Generation Citizen Program, service learning programs in various education classes, and courses in community service.

However, what if PC were to introduce a program in which students assist in putting these schools back together, even if that simply means putting a new coat of paint on the walls?

It is understandable that PC can only do so much to assist in terms of teaching in these failing classrooms—this of course is more of a problem of the state and the city itself, given the various lowered curriculums and lack of resources. 

Additionally, there is little PC students could do in terms of helping to rid the schools of the lead in the drinking water, which was also confirmed when the EPA ran tests. Again, these are pressing issues that the state must address given the dire consequences they could have on students whose bodies are still developing. 

On the other hand, given the fact that “the paint on the ceilings on the third floor was peeling in sheets,” the College should organize a community service effort to help put these classrooms back together in a manner that is still safe for students.

PC offers various mission trips and Habitat for Humanity trips, yet if these trips are all to other areas of the United States or even the world, this brings up the question of whether or not the College is doing enough to help solve problems occurring right here at home. 

With that, if Rhode Island wants to encourage students that come to college in this state to remain in the state post-graduation, they should be encouraging the colleges in the area to take part in the efforts to reinvigorate Providence schools.

If college students are reading this report and seeing the damage that has been done to students in Providence schools, that would immediately serve as discouragement from settling down in Providence, especially when one is considering raising kids in successful school districts. 

With all of these factors in mind, PC should consider the magnitude of the ongoing situation within Providence schools, and with that may want to establish a community service program that encourages students to go into these schools and help repair what is safe for them to repair.

This is not only a crisis in terms of education and putting Providence students at an immediate disadvantage in terms of attending college and maintaining well-paying jobs, but this is also a public health crisis. 

The damage caused by the consumption of lead both through the water in these schools and through lead paint peeling off the walls may be irreversible.

PC, what are you going to do about this pressing issue?