If the education establishment in Rhode Island doesn’t have a solution for improving education beyond (paraphrasing) “give us more money and give more money to our peers who also make their living administrating government programs,” what’s the solution? Well, a Laura Kilgus article in this week’s Rhode Island Catholic provides one answer:
Parents and school leaders of all faiths agreed that each child deserves a quality education and every parent should have the freedom and opportunity to choose which school is best for their child. Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman, M.Ed. and current Dean of Providence Hebrew Day School/New England Academy of Torah, shared that it is imperative that school choice opportunities be expanded in the state and added that the question is not whether Rhode Island will have expanded school choice the question is when.
“If we want our children to be well educated we must offer our parents opportunities to be able to make the choice of where their children attend school,” said Rabbi Scheinerman.
During a school choice hearing in front of the House Finance committee two or three years ago, a Native American single mother described her horrible, abusive childhood and said that, although she is not a Catholic Christian, herself, she understands the importance of a school setting that is free to inculcate moral principles in her daughter, founded in a religious basis. The private Catholic school that her daughter attended did what it could to help the family afford tuition; if I recall correctly, it’s a school that closed last year because it couldn’t make the numbers work. I wonder, from time to time, whether that mother managed to keep her daughter on the track that she, as a parent, understood to be best.
The challenge of education generally and, especially, of closing demographic gaps in educational outcomes, is to stop focusing on pouring more money into a failed government education system, with the focus on government-branded schools, but to force change that refocuses that system while giving families the opportunity to direct their own destiny, taking responsibility for their own lives and their own children.