School Talk

RI Ed Commish Is Right to Support New Charters

To quote the Boston Globe’s Dan McGowan, “today is a big day for charter schools in Rhode Island.” At the board of education meeting tonight, Education commissioner Angelica Infante Green plans to recommend approval of three new charter schools and the expansion of three others. Two of the new ones will only serve Providence students and one will serve Providence, North Providence and Central Falls. 

The 2019 Johns Hopkins report on the school system in Providence made national news because of its shockingly grim findings — “Little evidence of visible learning”, “extremely weak instruction,” “teachers and students who do not feel safe in school,” and parents who are “demoralized and marginalized.”

Today is a long awaited and hopeful day, not because it comes close to solving all problems for all children but because it provides some hope to families who so desperately need and deserve it. Many of us used the word “lifeboats” in the wake of the Hopkins report because we knew that for some kids, an escape hatch from their neighborhood school was the only answer. Tonight the lifeboats will be one step closer to the families who need and want them. 

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I direct you to Dan McGowan’s newsletter where he lists the 6 schools getting the green light (and the one school getting the red light.)

The three schools that Infante-Green will recommend to open for the first time are Excel Academy Rhode Island, Nuestro Mundo Public Charter School and Providence Preparatory Charter School. The expansions are Achievement First, RI Nurses Institute Middle College and Segue Institute for Learning. Dan McGowan did a simple but thorough write-up (with links to the commissioner’s official recommendations) for all the schools on the docket so rather than reinvent that wheel, I’m going to tip my hat to Dan for his good work and direct you to his newsletter — you should subscribe while you’re there.  

There is a self-determination that comes with being able to make choices for oneself and one’s family. Sometimes those choices involve renting or buying a home in a place with high quality schools. For those families that can’t afford to access choice by way of the real estate market or the private school market, their only escape hatch is the freedom to attend a school other than the one to which they are residentially assigned.  

With her recommendations, Commissioner Infante-Green opens up the path to self-determination—and educational freedom—to more families. I applaud her for it. 

What do you think?

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