Little Compton Shows Education Evolution is Inevitable


Folks elsewhere in the state may not know that Little Compton sends its high school students all the way through Tiverton to Portsmouth High School.  Why?  Because it’s generally understood to outperform the high school that they bus right past.  Some Tiverton private school families move to Portsmouth when their children hit high school or pay the tuition.

Now, according to the Providence Journal’s Linda Borg, Little Compton is looking to market its K-8 school to area families as a school choice option in its own right:

… By pricing tuition at $6,000 — less than the typical parochial school — the district hopes to attract students from neighboring Portsmouth, Tiverton, Middletown and Westport, Mass. …

“If I’m sitting in Portsmouth or Tiverton, I’m going to say, ’I can get my kid into a class where the student-teacher ratio is 14 to 1, where the school has music, choir, band, athletics, where we go on field trips to New York and Washington, D.C.,” said Supt. Robert B. Powers.

With Rhode Island families generally on a decline, we may see more and more public school districts looking for similar opportunities.  As that happens, Little Compton’s approach may raise questions at the Dept. of Education.  Can the state allow particular schools the flexibility to price their tuition under the assumptions that it will have a cutoff before they have to start thinking about hiring new teachers and “have a conversation” if any higher-cost special needs students apply?

These questions will start becoming thorny pretty quickly.  What happens to Tiverton, for example, if Little Compton starts filling out its excess capacity with low-cost Tiverton students for K-8 and Portsmouth tries the same for high school?  For that matter, what happens to private schools as the government’s subsidized competition expands beyond just charter schools to include all public schools, too?

Little Compton’s proposal may be an early indication that change is coming to education whether established players like it or not.  Given the degree to which government already distorts the education market, edging into it on a case-by-case basis will prove extremely disruptive.  Better to implement a well-considered, all-encompassing school choice program.

  • Marc Comtois

    This combined with the liberalization of Career and Technical Education (CTE) in the state that allows students to shop schools is beginning to really shake up school districts. Effectively, school choice is here.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    According to Massachusetts news today, “snow days” will now become “virtual school days”, with the kids watching TV at home. There will no longer be “make up days” at the end of the year. Another few days teachers are paid without working, great.

  • Honesty Broker

    This just looks like more patch-work actions required to make up for the bigger issue – trickle down economics sucks the life out of the working class. The working class gets paid less, their jobs get outsourced, etc. so they pay less taxes. Meanwhile the wealthy stash away all their “hard earned” tax deductions, write-offs, etc. instead of “creating jobs” – what a joke – what a lie.

    • Mike678

      The # of students in RI is decreasing, so schools are closing and economy of effort is driving schools to compete for students. Schools that academically perform have an advantage. Perhaps you explain how your issue is relevant to the discussion? Honestly?

      • Honesty Broker

        This just part of the “freedom of choice” argument for school vouchers, charter schools, etc. It is part of the gradual re-framing of what school is.

        Schools that academically perform have an advantage and that advantage will grow and they will be able to charge more and the other schools will be left in the dust. This leads to economic segregation

        My issue is less tax-based money has been going to schools (and colleges) for reasons state in my previous post (and other reasons). A good number of us went to schools in small towns just a few decades ago – and there were no issues with school/town sizes back then.

        It is the same ol’ libertarian trick – gradually break something and then say “hey look, that’s broken – lets privatize it!!!!”

        • Donna J Hawkins Walsh

          That is the ultimate goal of this ALEC companion, the ri center for freedom prosperity!

          • Mike678

            Source? Proof? Or just uninformed opinion?

          • Honesty Broker

            SPN has links to their affiliates which include RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity, which as a special place for a link to this web site.

            As far as ALEC and SPN, it is common knowledge and the two openly spin each other.

          • Honesty Broker

            Agreed – most people know these guys are related to the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity which is an affiliate of the nationwide State Policy Network, which is part of the Koch network. ALEC is tight with SPN and is particularly good at undermining Democracy.

            I love the way RICFP claim to be nonpartisan… too funny.

            These guys measure patriotism by one’s ability to not pay taxes. Then they wrap that dialogue with “freedom from an oppressive government”.

        • Mike678

          You may want to examine your logic and biases–and perhaps do a little research. Public schools in RI are paid with State, Local and Federal taxes, and last time I looked at towns around my area the per-pupil costs were increasing along with school budgets. So, more “tax-based” funding, not less in many/most towns. I agree that URI is getting less State funding–but the State’s taxes keep going up. Now we also have tolls. Why is that? You may want to examine their priorities.
          Finally, it isn’t the corporations killing this State–it’s our leadership. High taxes, high fees, and insider deals make our business climate bottom tier in the country. No businesses=no jobs=no ability to pay taxes. There are a lot of empty storefronts in my community–yours?

          • Honesty Broker

            There are tax rates and then there are effective tax rates. Nationwide, we are paying some of the lowest effective taxes in our history.

            Yes, expenses go up. Some people call it inflation. Too bad paychecks haven’t kept pace.

            I’m not saying corporations are killing our state (thanks for putting those words in my mouth BTW) – corporations are vital parts of our society. They just need to pay their fair share of taxes. Tax income is reduced as states around the country compete to entice corporations by lower and lower corporate tax rates or special tax deals for a specific company. It’s a downward spiral.

            I totally agree with you on insider deals and corruption in this state. Both Republicans and Democrats deserve to be voted/thrown out if they are corrupt. I would also like them all to disavow and ALEC (that is corruption also).

            Yes – there are empty storefronts in my community. There are empty storefronts in all communities but there are many causes include online shopping, big box stores (and their tax incentives), as well as the issues you mention.

            I want to see corporations pay their fair share – if GE and other corporations pay ZERO taxes then something is wrong. The wealthy and corporations have been stashing their money offshore since the Vietnam war (because they felt they shouldn’t have to pay for the war). It’s hard to figure out the accumulative effect of that loss of revenue over the years.

            I’d also like an increase in investment taxes (primarily short terms gains where folks just game the market vs making investment based on the vitality or future of a company). It seems we get taxed more for working and creating while getting taxed less for speculating.

          • Donna J Hawkins Walsh


            Mikes own words. You’re on the same agenda path as ALEC and Brookings privatizing everything, public private partnerships which is destroying freedom and our true free market system we used to have.

          • Justin Katz


            The reason I ignore your conspiracy-theory posts is that you find a couple of data points that prove that Group A sometimes agrees with or works with Group B and weave that into a global conspiracy. Even people with quite different beliefs and intentions can work together on shared priorities.

            Sometimes one group can even leverage a good idea from another as a way to undermine the more-insidious intentions of the latter.

          • Donna J Hawkins Walsh

            Now corporations not only are not going to pay taxes but get in bed with government through public private partnerships, basically corporate fascism,. ALEC ie freedom for prosperity and Brookings ie Gina both want this along with the world bank!

            Model legislation from ALEC center used


            Now through these think tanks not only are corporations not going to pay taxes they’re going to get in bed with government through public private partnerships

            Brookings ie Gina


          • Donna J Hawkins Walsh
          • Donna J Hawkins Walsh

            So sending government checks to private schools will help? No that gets outcome based education in ALL schools, ALEC loves school to work outcome based education. Ypu never ever speak against the real child abuse happening in schools. Outcome based education is what has destroyed them! You do the research!

          • Mike678

            Anger, bias and opinion don’t replace facts. I note no proof, no sources to back up your opinion…an opinion that has little to do with the subject discussed. Am sure you care, but you seem a little misinformed.

          • Donna J Hawkins Walsh

            Again avoiding again outcome based education. Bidding for ypur donors more so then we the people, I’ll continue to pray for your soul.

          • Mike678

            Thank you. Faith can move mountains, but it doesn’t replace critical thought. I will return the favor.

          • Donna J Hawkins Walsh

            You’re in good company with your public private partnerships


          • Mike678

            Why do you think I enjoy or support ppp? Your assume way too much which detracts from credibility. We agree to disagree. Have a nice day.

          • Honesty Broker

            Really Mike?

            Facts? Critical thoughts?
            Funny how it’s ok for you to generalize – but not others.

            Most facts provided by this site simply point to articles generated by other libertarian think tanks.

        • Justin Katz

          If I may bring this back to Honesty Broker’s initial point in this thread:

          My issue is less tax-based money has been going to schools (and colleges) for reasons state in my previous post (and other reasons). A good number of us went to schools in small towns just a few decades ago – and there were no issues with school/town sizes back then.

          As Mike678 notes, funding for government schools has been up and up. The funding problems lie elsewhere. When most of us were kids, the budgetary consequences of the unionization of teachers hadn’t yet hit disastrous levels. The schools weren’t so filled with unneeded administrators. They went about their business without mountains of non-essential rules and curricular priorities.

          That’s where your culprit is, not with the failure of taxpayers to make the increases even more astronomical.

          • Honesty Broker

            That’s a fair point – added expenses. Not sure how union costs have become disastrous, etc. (but maybe their costs have outpaced inflation)

            Schools also do a lot more than they used to – standardized testing, more sports, supporting a more complicated college entrance process, security, dealing with social media issues, increased issues with drugs/guns, teaching technology, using technology, etc. come to mind with very little thought.

            I still look at taxes as the main issue. This country has never been more wealthy than it is right now – but the money sits “under the mattress” of the wealthy.

            The economy is like the human circulatory system – money needs to flow everywhere, just like blood in the human body. Right now poor Uncle Sam has an ulcer and is bleeding out into his stomach and the rest of his body is failing.

          • Justin Katz

            I agree about the wealth accumulating under control of the wealthy. But a big government (by scope, tax, and regulation) isn’t the way to get that. Centralizing power will inevitably benefit the powerful. The solution is to decentralize and give flexibility to everybody, then the non-rich will be better able to compete, and they’ll either take the money from them over time in the market or force them to invest it.

          • Honesty Broker

            Government is established by the people and should represent the will of the people. If we get rid of gerrymandering (by both parties) then elections will actually reflect the will of the people.

            All power corrupts, you folks *correctly* point that out regarding RI politics on a regular basis. Corruption has been greatly amplified at all levels because “we” equated money to speech.

            Decentralized power is much more easily influenced by the wealthy – which is why the Koch network and ALEC focuses more energy on state vs. national politics.

            I’m not sure if former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell envisioned what we have now, but his manifesto/blueprint regarding the corporate takeover of Democracy seems to have been perfectly executed.

          • Mike678

            Honesty–or at least balance–would require you to look at the other side of issue. Media Matters? Soros? Or is it just those you disagree with that should be silenced?

          • Honesty Broker

            i have looked at all sides – especially the Koch vs. Soros discussion. There is no comparison between the two. The Kochs and their network are funding the dismantling of Democracy itself.

            I would go into painful detail for you but I know you would just respond with “you are full of anger and bias” or “those generalizations show your ignorance” so I am not going to waste my time.

            I will say that I don’t immerse myself in liberal media/literature, in fact two of the more recent books I read were written by a life long Republican (Mike Lofgren) and they are fantastic. But that’s the extent to which I am going to waste my time explaining reality to you

  • Clyde

    I know not more family s that have moved from Portsmouth to Tiverton. It seems that at lest half my graduating class from the early 90s is living a nd loving Tiverton. The little compton thing has more to do with the snobbery that people display. At one point the LC kids were also bussed right past Portsmouth into Middletown but that doesn’t really fit the anti Tiverton narrative.

    • Justin Katz

      Did you mean “a lot more families”? Just trying to understand your point.