Providence Youth Summit

Since working and living in Providence Maia Raynor had recognized the endemic devaluing and dismissal of student voice and opinion in school and district decisions. Providence Public School District (PPSD) has a high rate of school suspensions, student dropout and other indicators of student struggles. PPSD serves a population of 30,000 students, 63% identifying as Hispanic/Latinx, 19% identifying as Black, and 5% identifying as Asian. Being a district with a majority of students of color, the lack of student input is linked with the racist, nativist, and ageist mindsets and policies that are promoted by the district. For example a recent policy passed by PPSD lowers the requirements for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers, so that teachers no longer need a certification to teach ESL classes, but only have to meet once a month with an educator with that certification. The ESL population is already vulnerable given the language barrier, and despite that PPSD has left without without teachers with expertise. PPSD has done what it can for students of color in Providence, but without hearing their voices the attempts by this urban school district to provide a quality education to all students falls flat. That is where the idea for the Providence Youth Summit came from as an attempt to bridge the gap between students and the schools that educate them.