Anybody else wonder why Linda Borg’s front-page article, in yesterday’s Providence Journal, comparing Rhode Island’s abandoned education reform with Massachusetts’s forward march, didn’t mention former Independent-to-Democrat Governor Lincoln Chafee once? He was the single-most-responsible party for Rhode Island’s policy reversal and the resulting halt of improvements. Another way to put it would be that he was the teachers unions’ tool for achieving that reversal and halt.
Given Curt Schilling’s op-ed broadside against Chafee on the 38 Studios debacle, also in yesterday’s paper, it would have made a strong statement, indeed, for readers to have been given reason to consider the former governor’s effect on education, as well. It also would have provided some food for thought with respect to Massachusetts’s now-“stagnant” test scores, as Borg puts it, because Democrat Deval Patrick played much the same role during his time as governor.
Of course, giving Chafee his shameful due on education would also have raised questions about how he achieved his office. And that might have undermined the pro-Raimondo section with which Borg closed out her article. After all, the new Democrat governor — whom Borg credits with bringing “a fresh approach” — achieved office in much the same way as her predecessor: with multiple candidates splitting the vote and preventing the election of anybody with a clear majority.
This post wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t raise the front-page graphic’s insistence that another $432 per student somehow makes the difference between Massachusetts’s first-place test results and Rhode Island’s merely average performance. When last I looked at these numbers, Massachusetts’s per-pupil spending was seventh in the nation, while Rhode Island’s was eighth. Anybody who’s looking for an explanation of the differences in our results can safely put the funding differences to the side.