The Boston Globe has a piece today on the most recent bit, which is the discussion of if the state should take over the Providence school system. The first part that made me sit back in my chair:
[Mayor] Elorza has faced public criticism from members of the council and the Providence Teachers Union for insisting that he interview most people coming to work for the school department, from principals down to crossing guards. A spokesperson for Elorza acknowledged the mayor does like to meet with applicants before they are hired but argued he does not interfere with school department decisions....there's somebody who needs some roles and responsbilities work here, and it isn't the school committee.
When it comes to signing off on contracts with vendors, the council has come under fire for a requirement that it approve all agreements worth more than $5,000. The process has led school department employees to joke that it can cost more than $5,000 in man hours just to prepare a small contract to go before the council. Council leadership has defended the practice, arguing city government needs checks and balances.
There is plenty else at work here--Rhode Island, after all, has the same redlined New England districts that Massachusetts does, meaning that the need is concentrated in their cities. Add to that Providence's size relative to the rest of the state, where a district about the same size as Worcester is close to a fifth of the entire state public school enrollment. Infante-Green has been careful not to talk about a "takeover" speaking instead of partnerships, 'though one should of course always approach such terms with care. At this point, all that has been happening is a comprehensive review (which is how we know the bit above from the Globe) with results due later this month.
While Rhode Island hasn't had the same comprehensive funding reform Massachusetts has had once and is over due to have again, it also hasn't had any of the related reforms (catch any Massachusetts mayor insisting as above, for example) around who has what sort of authorities. Between that and the relative proportion of the population involved, expect there to be more Legislative action that might otherwise be the case.