What is RISPE?
The Rhode Island School for Progressive Education (RISPE) is Rhode Island’s newest educator preparation provider and the first institution of higher education in the state to be founded with the express mission of diversifying Rhode Island’s teacher workforce and promoting anti-racist education. RISPE was developed over four years with generous support from the Rhode Island Foundation and the United Way of Rhode Island and received unanimous approval from the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education in March 2019. As of fall 2022, RISPE runs a PK-12 ESOL Certification Program and an Accelerated Teacher Certification Program in Elementary Education. Accelerated Teacher Certification Programs in Secondary Math and Science are schedule to launch in summer 2023, pending RIDE approval. RISPE’s plans for the future include the launch of additional certification programs along with two residency-style degree programs: an MAT with dual certification in Elementary and ESL Education and an MEd in Urban School Leadership with a Building Level Administrator certification.
The ultimate goal that guides all of RISPE’s work is to improve outcomes for all students in Rhode Island’s urban public schools by diversifying the teacher pipeline, promoting the use of anti-racist pedagogy, and preparing teachers for success with high-quality clinical experiences. We use proven best practices and the real-time feedback of the educators and district partners we work with to provide responsive, relevant, and supportive programming in our pursuit of highly-effective, equitable education for all students.
National and Local Demand
Nationally, 40% of schools don’t have a single teacher of color. Only 18% of teachers nationwide are people of color. In Rhode Island, the problem is even worse: less than 5% of our teachers are people of color and only 2% are Latino, in a state where students of color make up 40% of the overall student population, and 80% in our urban schools.
In our conversations with districts and with the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), the lack of teachers of color and the need for more culturally competent educators emerge as urgent needs again and again. In spite of the consensus that there is a problem, there are currently no policy objectives in RI to address these problems and no resources allocated at the state level to do so. At the state and federal levels, we are living in a structurally anachronistic policy environment, and institutionalized racism is evident at every level of our public education system. We know we can do better. RISPE is committed to transforming the state of teacher education in Rhode Island through high-quality, culturally-competent, anti-racist teacher training and an explicit focus on instilling a pipeline of teachers of color for our state’s urban public schools.
RISPE is proud and grateful to have received support from the Rhode Island Foundation, NewSchools Venture Fund, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the United Way of Rhode Island, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, and the Joukowsky Family Foundation, as well as a growing pool of grassroots donors in our own community.