Fix Our Schools

PSU'S CAMPAIGN TO IMPROVE SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE


How it started

For years, Providence students have noticed the crumbling buildings, deteriorating infrastructure, and unsafe health conditions in their schools. There are holes in the floors and walls of Mount Pleasant High School. Mold makes several classrooms at Central High School unusable. When it rains, the cafeteria at Hope High School floods. Year after year PSU members at Hope High School were seeing peeling paint, broken auditorium chairs, and leaky ceilings.

“If I go every day to a school that is un-repaired and worn-out, why should I try to learn?” he said. “The school is telling me that I should be broken, too.”
— Carlos Ledee, Providence student, April 30, 2015

+ See Examples

Strategy

In 2015 students decided to take action. PSU launched a campaign to Fix Our Schools. The primary goal: end the moratorium on school construction repayments in RI, and invest in school repairs. Led by PSU members at Hope High School, the campaign aimed to raise awareness about the dangerous and disrespectful conditions within Providence schools and targeted the General Assembly as the group that needed to step up and increase school construction funding.

Actions so far

Students began the work by gathering up examples of some of the worst conditions in Providence high schools. PSU members at each school did research inside their buildings to document the worst of the building conditions the faced every day.

In April 2015, students held a press conference in the Rhode Island State House to raise awareness about the conditions in their schools. More than 50 students joined dozens of lawmakers and education officials, to share the photographs they had collected. Students also shared stories of their experiences inside broken schools.

PSU is also active in the Fix Our Schools Now Coalition, which demands major school infrastructure investment in Rhode Island.

Results

PSU's advocacy assisted in two major victories! First, the State lifted its moratorium on school construction reimbursement, meaning districts could again begin construction with the promise of some reimbursement from the State of Rhode Island. Second, the State committed $10 million to school construction funding annually. The number is a drop in the bucket considering the challenges students face, but it did allow Providence to make repairs in schools like Gilbert Stuart and Classical High School.

There is still more to do, though. This statewide campaign will continue until we realize our vision of a safe and healthy learning environment for all students.

In the media

The Providence JournalRI Future, WPRO, and WPRI have covered the #fixourschools campaign. View featured photos and student testimony from the rally at the state house below.

 
 
 
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