The demand by parents for immediate access to quality public school education is real, and families are voting with their feet to obtain better learning opportunities for their children, if they can.
Rhode Island is in a learning crisis.
Last year, the Rhode Island Department of Education received a record 6,135 unique lottery applications for only 2304 available Charter School seats. Since 2019, there has been a 70% increase in parents choosing homeschooling for their children, a jump from 1900 (2019) to 3,109 (2022) students being homeschooled. Statewide, student enrollment declined in 2021 with a 24% increase in dropout numbers, and chronic absenteeism is on the rise.
Our children must be our first priority.
Instead of working to improve the outcomes for students in Rhode Island’s failing schools, the General Assembly wants to add new curriculum that promotes affirming pleasurable sex, literacy in climate change, trauma informed schools and other burdensome and distracting learning requirements. Basic education in math, reading, history and science is suffering and our test scores prove it. We cannot wait for long-term bureaucratic reforms -- parents and students need options today.
Republican's proposed legislation that seeks to empower families in failing schools by affording parents the option to send their children to performing schools within, or outside, their existing district. Recent data from the Rhode Island Department of Education indicates there are approximately 14,000 students in schools that are drastically underperforming. At the same time, there is an estimated 28,000 empty seats in performing schools across Rhode Island. These performing schools ought to have the option to receive students from failing schools – and the money should follow the child, not bureaucrats. Choosing a performing school is a parental rights issue that needs to be addressed now so generations of learners, and Rhode Island’s future, is not put in further peril.
Republicans also submitted legislation to create regional, focused “Dual Language Academies” to address the English as a second language crisis we face. There are many acclaimed models of these academies operating across North America. Currently, we have 12,500 English Language Learners (ELL) students enrolled in our schools, and that number is growing.
We will mitigate the costs for these proposals --such as transportation costs, by finally assessing property taxes on Higher Education institutions, which will be proportional to their endowments. Since 2019, Republicans have called for Rhode Island universities and colleges to contribute their fair share. Brown University sits on over $1B worth of real estate on the East Side of Providence, and an investment portfolio of $4B. Yet, these assets are largely exempt from the property taxes desperately needed to help fund Providence schools. This is intolerable for taxpayers in Rhode Island who fund $272 million annually in state aid to Providence and its schools. It's long past time for our local universities and colleges to contribute to the cost of educating the next generation.
Also included in our suite of proposed education reform bills, was the creation of an Education Savings Account Program to assist and support students learning at home (or in remote learning) with funding for educational materials, tutors or technology.
Republicans also submitted legislation to establish a Department of Children, Youth and Families Scholarship Program, to assist our most vulnerable children in their pursuit of higher education.
As is being witnessed across the nation, parents are closely monitoring the education of their children. No longer can Rhode Island parents, guardians and employers ignore the education crisis that is at hand. Republicans out right reject the notion that a student’s education and future should be determined by their zip code.
Republican reforms seek to promote freedom to learn and the pursuit of happiness for both parents and children within Rhode Island’s educational system.
Michael Chippendale, Blake A. Filippi, Representative Brian C. Newberry, David J Place, George Nardone, Robert Quattrocchi, Justin Price, Sherry Roberts
LIKE THIS PAGE? SHARE IT WITH OTHERS
Sign up below to receive the latest News & Media from the Rhode Island House Republican Caucus sent directly to your inbox.
FIND NEWS BY