Jeremy Chiappetta is the Chief Executive Officer of Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy in Cumberland, Rhode Island. According to an official biography, “Chiappetta joined Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP) Mayoral Academy as the founding Head of School for the first BVP elementary school” in 2009 and “has led the growth of the program from 76 kindergarteners to more than 1,800 scholars in grades K-12.”
“Prior to joining BVP, he served as Broad Resident and district and school-based administrator in Providence Public Schools. Before joining the Broad Residency, he worked for IBM’s Business Consulting Services where he developed business and technology solutions for a variety of private sector firms. Mr. Chiappetta has also served as the deputy director of Chess-in-the-Schools, a nonprofit organization helping thousands of public school students grow intellectually and socially. He began his career as a Teach for America social studies teacher in New York City.”
Chiappetta obtained a B.A. in History from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995, a M.B.A. from Yale University in 2002, and a M.A. in Education from the University of Rhode Island in 2007. Chiappetta was an alumnus of the Broad Academy in 2016 -2017 as well as the Broad Residency in 2004-2006.
Education Reform Efforts and Ties
Chiappetta was a Broad Resident from 2004 to 2006 and was in the Broad Superintendents Academy 2016-2017 cohort. According to Education Week, critics of the Broad Academy claim “Broad-trained superintendents use corporate-management techniques to consolidate power, weaken teachers’ job protections, cut parents out of decision-making, and introduce unproven reform measures.”
Chiappetta and Blackstone Valley Prep were mentioned in a March 2017 article in The Atlantic about Rhode Island’s public-private personalized-learning initiative. “Our goal is to meet the kids where they are and help them be their best; that has been our charge from the beginning,” Chiappetta said. “In order to meet them where they are, you need to understand where they are across a broad spectrum, and you have to be able to track it and push people.” He asserted that Blackstone Valley Prep was “a key incubator that will inform and shape the state’s larger personalized-learning vision.”
Blackstone Valley Prep received a $2.2 million grant from the Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF) in November 2013. The CGSF is a nonprofit that raises money to expand charter school networks, and counts KIPP schools and Success Academy in its portfolio. CSGF is backed by the Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Walton Family Foundation. Its president is Kevin Hall, who formerly served as the Broad Foundation’s COO. The Walton Family Foundation also gave Blackstone Valley Prep $500,000 in 2011.
The Walton Family Foundation highlighted Blackstone Valley Prep as an example of a charter school that was “experimenting with creative approaches” to diversity and curriculum.
The Gates Foundation also highlighted Blackstone Valley Prep, featuring a profile of the school in its “Charter School Spotlight” in May 2016. Additionally, the Gates Foundation-backed organization, Civic Builders, spent $7.5 million in 2014 to buy and renovate a former Catholic school for Blackstone Valley Prep. A spokesman for Civic Builders, which specializes in building charter schools, said that the Gates Foundation is one of its “most generous supporters.”
In 2014, the Gates Foundation also gave Blackstone Valley Prep a $263,000 grant to support the “#ComebackCity High Expectations Project.” The project was a “collaboration between traditional district and charter public schools to improve student performance by helping teachers, leaders, and parents better understand high academic expectations for all students.”
Other Corporate Ties
Chiappetta worked at IBM from 2002 to 2004. IBM partnered with the City University of New York and New York City Department of Education to open the Pathways in Technology Early College High School in September 2011. IBM’s Reinventing Education program, which began in 1994, operated on the belief that “business can and must contribute to profound and far-reaching changes in education, and that technology - which revolutionized business and industry - could have the same dramatic impact in public education by providing new tools for better teaching and higher student achievement.”
Teacher Texting Scandal
In June 2016, three teachers at Blackstone Valley Prep resigned after text messages and Slack chats critical of specific students were leaked. “In the expletive-ridden messages, teachers spoke casually about students, calling them “idiots,” and “dumb [expletives],” according to the Providence Journal. Teachers also joked about wanting to hit the students.
Chiappetta expressed “sadness, disappointment, and frustration with this entire situation” and said that the school “fell short” in being good enough for students. The teachers in question were trained by Teach for America (TFA), an alternative teacher training and placement program. TFA suspended the teachers.
- Black Valley Prep Mayoral Academy, Leaders, organization website, accessed February 2018.
- LinkedIn, Online Profile, LinkedIn, accessed February 2018.
- Broad Center, Chiappetta Profile, organization website, accessed February 2018.
- Tim Newcomb, Will Personalized Learning Become the New Normal?, The Atlantic, March 29, 2017.
- Linda Borg, Cumberland’s Blackstone Valley Prep wins $2.2-million grant to expand its charter school network, The Providence Journal, November 6, 2013.
- Valerie Strauss, Who won millions in Walton Foundation grants in 2011, Washington Post, March 7, 2012.
- Marc Sternberg, Diverse Schools Help Students Thrive, Walton Family Foundation, May 5, 2017.
- Gates Foundation, Charter School Spotlight: Blackstone Valley Prep, organization website, accessed February 2018.
- Linda Borg, $7.5 million from Gates Foundation to finance new charter middle school in Central Falls, Providence Journal, September 3, 2014.
- Linda Borg, Central Falls schools partner with Blackstone Valley Prep on education project, Providence Journal, October 28, 2014.
- Bob Spielvogel, IBM Reinventing Education: Research Summary and Perspective, Center for Children & Technology, June 1, 2001.
- Jacqueline Tempera and Linda Borg, Blackstone Valley Prep teachers resign in texting scandal, Providence Journal, June 22, 2016.