Readers of political and policy news should make it a practice to try to understand an issue from the other side. If the other side’s advocates are making a complaint, try to understand their legitimate grievances.
I have to admit, however, that I’m having a difficult time seeing the grievances expressed by opponents of Rhode Island’s school “pathways” program as legitimate:
Warwick Supt. Philip Thornton said pathways schools such as Ponaganset are draining students away from his schools, to the tune of $1.4 million a year in lost tuition.
Tuition dollars follow the student when he or she moves from one district to another. Thornton said Warwick has “lost” 86 students to Ponaganset and North Kingstown. In a district facing significant financial challenges, that’s a lot of money.
Shanley, a Warwick Democrat, said the bill would require students to stay in their own school district if the home district has a similar program. …
Parents, he said, see this as a way to get their children into higher-performing school districts.
How can one respond to this except to suggest that Warwick schools should get their act together and make their programs good enough that families don’t pull their children, and maybe even so good that families from other districts move their children into Warwick schools? And how can one possibly read Representative Evan Shanley’s bill as anything other than protectionism for school districts at the expense of students?
Yes, parents will look for ways to provide a better education for their children. We should be looking for those ways, too — that is, if our goal really is to provide opportunities and ensure an educated population.