Today, the Rhode Island Department of Education announced that Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP) High School, Blackstone Valley Prep Elementary School 2, and fifteen other schools across the state are Commended.
But there is more. BVP is also home to the only high school and to the only two high poverty schools that received a Commended rating.
Why does this matter?
- BVP staff, scholars and families are once again proving that demographics do not define destiny, that a zip code need not determine one’s educational opportunities. The other Commended schools are overwhelmingly suburban, white and more affluent. BVP is intentionally diverse by design. BVP is a mixed-race, mixed-income network of schools focused on proving what is possible for all kids. Just today, this feature in The Atlantic serves as important context and as a reminder that integrated schools are gaining (promising) national attention.
- BVP’s successes are not without challenges. Public funding for the nearly 1,400 scholars BVP serves has been constantly under attack since our opening in 2009. Moreover, adequate facilities for our scholars to grow and develop into their best selves continue to be a challenge. Several efforts to share unused public school seats have been rebuffed; our efforts to rehabilitate vacant buildings have been stymied; and our efforts to lease excess capacity from private and parochial schools have been received with mixed response.
News like today’s announcement reminds me and all of us what our work is about - proving what is possible for all kids. Despite obstacles, or perhaps because of them, BVP is committed to solving the challenges that come our way. We are committed to supporting the success of our scholars, both today and tomorrow.
Our work is urgent. Statistics like this show that closing the achievement gap, which we know becomes a lifelong opportunity gap, is absolutely possible, but we need dedicated people to work together to continue driving this hard work forward. If you are reading this and thinking about what is next in your life, please know that BVP is actively accepting applications from professionals ready to teach, lead, and take on the challenge to rethink what is possible in public education. Advocates for educational equity are strongly encouraged to apply at www.blackstonevalleyprep.org. Click the “Careers” tab to view BVP’s full list of openings.