The insider excuse making over abysmal PARCC scores continues, but the conclusion to which Rhode Islanders should come is that we ought to reduce our reliance on a failing education model.
The firing of Providence’s dancing traffic cop is just the latest in a series of incidents that prove that Mayor Jorge Elorza does not understand the concept of civil rights, and Rhode Islanders should be very concerned.
Moral decisions require more than a surface review of immediate suffering, and if saving souls is the highest good, ignoring the increased risk of converts is counterproductive.
Although politicians are looking to the unemployment rate to paint sunny pictures of RI’s economy, in August, the gap between the jobs that the RI economy had created since the recession and the number of Rhode Islanders added to food stamps grew and still led New England.
Once again, the drop in RI’s unemployment rate is deceptive, resulting from a bigger drop in people actively looking for work than the drop in employment; at least RI had the rest of New England for company in October.
September marked the month that Rhode Island employment stopped its unabated month-to-month growth in 2015, but a downward revision of the whole year should still be expected in January.
The modern West has shifted its goals too much to doing something worthy of a movie to the detriment of things that are simply worthy.
The bizarre argument over Muslim celebrations in New Jersey 14 years ago is indicative of a larger societal problem that we need to address.
James Kennedy suggests that the first question Rhode Islanders should answer is why they need the 6/10 Connector in the first place.
Out-of-state truckers already pay taxes and fees on a per-mile basis, in Rhode Island, and new tolls could have a detrimental effect on revenue and the economy.
Governor Raimondo appears to have used an outside report on the project development and management practices of the state Dept. of Transportation as a pretense for shifting intended hires in that area to different purposes that increase membership in her new director’s labor union.
RIILE’s Terry Gorman has uncovered information that is especially disturbing in light of the revelation this week that that Governor Gina Raimondo would like to find a path to drivers licenses/permits for illegal aliens.
Katherine Gregg has more on Rhode Island state government’s spending to promote itself and spin its programs to the public in today’s Providence Journal:
Rhode Island taxpayers paid upward of $6,234,093 last year to private companies that do “communications and marketing” for state government in Rhode Island. The “quasi-public(s)” paid another $617,555 to consultants, and expect to pay $987,216 for salaries for their in-house public-relations staff.
That’s on top of the $4.3 million for in-house public relations people. But this is all just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the government’s efforts to get the public to accept its expansion. After all, if you’re going to include the payment for the Raimondo administration to design its RhodeWorks logo, why not also include the $50,000 the state paid for a predictably positive economic projection from REMI? For that matter, part of the $1.3 million study the Brookings Institution is currently conducting in Rhode Island will be instructions for how the Raimondo administration can bring agencies, private organizations, and private companies into line with the government’s agenda.
If we opened the net wide enough not just to catch people with the phrase “public relations” in their job description, but all of those activities that have as their goal the persuasion or manipulation of the public, you’d catch not only REMI and Brookings, but GrowSmart, the RI Foundation, and many other organizations known and unknown. The bill wouldn’t be a few million dollars per year, but tens of millions or more.
This is an inevitable consequence of an expansive government that has its fingers in every activity and massive, indecipherable budgets. The worst part is that we’ve all fallen asleep on the job when it comes to tracing and pushing back against the manipulation.
Jay Nordlinger, of National Review, has uncovered a secret Facebook society at Brown University. It’s sort of like the Dead Poets Society, but instead of sneaking off to a cave to utter forbidden poetry, they log in to Facebook to have real discussions about controversial topics that are taboo at Rhode Island’s Ivy League University:
One student fed up with this atmosphere of illiberalism, fear, and nuttiness was Chris Robotham, a sophomore from Scituate, Mass., majoring in computer science and math. He created a Facebook group called “Reason@Brown.” You can set up three types of Facebook group: Public, Closed, or Secret. This one is secret. It provides a safe space (to coin a phrase) for the free exchange of ideas, online. A member can simply express his views without being condemned as a heretic or villain. Without being shouted off the stage. There is actual argument.
The group’s only other out-of-the-closet member is Marie Willersrud, who hails from Norway and couldn’t believe the degree to which dissenting voices are suppressed at the American university.
As Nordlinger suggests, an environment invested in the notion that some of the most elite students in the world face oppression at one of the most liberal institutions in the world is one in which people who have contrary ideas must be silenced. It doesn’t take much cold reality at all — scarcely a warm spring breeze — to blast away that imaginary flower.
The latest education insider to enter into the editorial tug-of-war after release of Rhode Island’s abysmal results on its first Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests is Anna Cano Morales, director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University and familiar face around the Statehouse:
Ninety-five percent of Rhode Island’s English learners do not meet the state’s English Language Arts and Literacy standards, according to recently released Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) scores. Eighty-nine percent of our Latino students are below the standards in math.
Those are staggering numbers. When we picture what they mean in human terms — 10,000 English learners, 32,000 Latino students — these numbers are stunning.
Those who promote identity politics are striving to make matters of race and ethnicity an area in which disagreement is not allowed, but we owe it to all of Rhode Island’s children to think realistically about our schools’ problems so we can identify true causes and develop appropriate solutions. As Morales goes on to concede, talking about the English scores of students who have already been identified as needing help with English is “incoherent.” Far more concerning is that 64% of students overall fail to meet expectations in English.
As for math, it is lamentable that 89% of Latino students don’t meet expectations, but the percentage of all students who fall short is 74%. That’s an unacceptable 30,000 students in the first case, but an unacceptable 105,000 students in the second case. Should Rhode Island really allocate limited resources so as to focus on 30,000 students at the expense of 75,000 when solutions that help the larger group would surely help the smaller group, as well?
Morales refers to National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, and a look at those results deepens the picture. Over the last decade, Hispanic students were the fastest-improving group in Rhode Island, especially in math, on which they now outperform black students. As with other groups, however, the improvement hit a ceiling when teacher-union-favored Governor Lincoln Chafee scuttled the accountability reforms that his predecessor, Governor Donald Carcieri, and then Education Commissioner Deborah Gist had put in place.
In this light, the Latino policy director’s prescriptions are questionable. If 64% of all students can’t even pass a test on English, would it really help matters to “immerse” them in bilingual education? While admittedly not an expert in the area of curriculum development, that sounds like lunacy to me. If our current teacher corps and teaching resources aren’t able to bring 74% of students up to speed in math, does it really make sense to make English-language-learners — around 7% of all students — a key focus of our hiring and purchasing decisions?
The progressive thinking that seeks to push political agendas through racial-grievance guilt trips is a big part of our problem in Rhode Island, and we need to break its hold on us.
Interviews & Profiles
Arthur Christopher Schaper asks illegal immigration expert Jessica Vaughn about the consequences of sanctuary city policies under former Providence Mayor David Cicilline.
Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss the candidates for U.S. Congress from Rhode Island (mostly by way of the issues).
Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss a debate between candidates for RI Secretary of State and related topics.