In Rhode Island, the school choice issue is emblematic of the insider nature of politics and the mounting public frustration with it.
Look in any direction, and the demand for school choice is clear:
- Asked in a survey how they would educate their children if given the option, 68% would choose something other than district public schools.
- In College Board data, Rhode Island is second in the nation in the percentage of private school students, and first, by a long shot, in religiously affiliated private schools, which tend to be less expensive.
- Every year, the applicants for charter schools exceed the available seats by many times, and only a fraction of businesses that would like to provide tax credit scholarships are able to do so.
Yet, asked about school choice on Thursday, the day of a School Choice Week rally at the State House, the Speaker of the House, Nicholas Mattiello (D, Cranston) told a political reporter from the Providence Journal, “Even though [school] choice sounds like a good idea, it’s very impractical and something I am not going to be looking at very favorably.”