Education reformers say the time for “thoughtful pause” is over
Back in January, Governor Lincoln Chafee cited the need for a “thoughtful pause” before mulling the expansion of charter schools in Rhode Island.
Today, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, Cumberland Mayor Daniel McKee, and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian joined a group of education reformers during a State House news conference. Their message, in effect, was that it’s time to end the “thoughtful pause” and embrace change.
Maryellen Butke of RI-CAN was among the speakers contending the status quo, marked by sharped disparities in performance along socioeconomic lines, compels the need for more mayoral academies.
Our achievement gaps are some of the worst in the nation and touch every community in our state. Despite being eighth in the country in our expenditures for education, the return on our investment is troubling.
Avedisian, who is very close to Governor Lincoln Chafee, noted dryly “that this is an interesting issue if I’m here speaking on behalf of mayoral academies and the governor is opposed.”
Avedisian called Chafee “a fair, honest, and open person, and he has invited dialogue and discussion,” including a meeting last week on mayoral academies. The Warwick mayor held out hope for common ground in advance of an expected September 1 vote by the Board of Regents on a mayoral academy proposed for Providence and Cranston.
Chafee’s team is expected to respond to the news conference later today.
The issue of mayoral academies remains politically thorny for the governor. Labor, which strongly supported Chafee last November, opposes more charter schools. Yet amid still another report of Rhode Island’s ill-prepared workforce, public schools remain one of the state’s greatest needs for improvement.