Catch-UP ESAs Give Students Immediate Support

Instead of families being forced to consider spending their own money to augment their children’s schooling, (or not being able to afford at anything at all) programs like after-school enrichment classes, online classes, or private-tutoring could become immediately within reach if our state would adopt an innovative new program called Catch-up Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs).

Law & Order

Mark Zaccaria argues that the current turmoil in the United States comes down to a loss of the institutions that used to teach people respect.

Officially Approved Revolutionaries in Training

Notions of independent thought and familial authority are quickly becoming illusions, contingent upon the official authorization of powerful progressives.

Politics This Week with John DePetro: Boxing Up Political Culture

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for June 15, included talk about:

  • Teaching Columbus a lesson
  • Speaker pokes his head out of hiding
  • State of the RIGOP
  • What’s in a name?

I’ll be on again Monday, June 22, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

Derrick Garforth Is a Marker of Our Time

The Pawtucket middle school teacher arrested for attempted vandalism provides the latest warning about the direction of education and, in turn, our society.

Survival Rate Hits New High of 99.6% Yet Policy Continues to Badly Lag

The CDC’s current best estimate of the survival rate of COVID-19 is 99.6%. This is a new high for the reported survival rate which has been climbing for weeks.

Contrary to the Impression We May Have, Survival Rate of COVID-19 in United States is Over 94%

This is to offer an important data point about COVID-19 that doesn’t get much attention. The United States has, to date, experienced 1,092,815 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19.  64,283 of those cases, or 5.88%, have resulted in death.  To be clear, 5.88% of people who got the disease have died from it, not 5.88% […]

Education in the Time of the Pandemic

Public schools and teachers unions in RI and MA are providing our state an education that can lead us to a post-plague renaissance if we’ll learn the lessons.

Suggestions on Contract Reform from a Teacher

Michael Marra is a teacher of history and economics and asserts that Providence schools are not the only schools in need of improvement. His focus is on teacher contracts, which need to be modified to foster good teaching and diminish poor performance.

A Second Amendment Lesson for School Choice

Advocates for school choice can feel like they’re getting stuck, but a lesson from the Second Amendment movement might help them find new support.

Who Is Providence Students’ Weingarten?

Powerful union head Randi Weingarten has no problem getting rough-and-tumble with the education commissioner, and Rhode Island students need somebody willing to do the same for them.

Politics This Week with John DePetro: Rhode Island’s Civic Infection

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for March 2, included talk about:

  • The degree of confidence in the state government to contain a contagious disease.
  • The effect of distrust on public perception of the Veterans Home debacle.
  • The meaning of Weingarten’s texts to Infante-Green.
  • The ubiquitous Mr. Nee.

I’ll be on again Monday, March 9, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

Center’s School Choice Message Sprouts Roots

Recently, two prominent Rhode Island politicians have publicly supported our Center’s long-time policy idea – even echoing our own language – to advance educational freedom for Providence families and all parents across our state.

For years, behind the scenes, I have been advising politicians and candidates – Democrats, Republicans, and independents – on the benefits of educational scholarship accounts (ESAs).

Putting Children Over Bureaucracy

Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green is right to worry that adult agendas will derail any chance of reforming our system.

Brown Professor Would Fail a Future Dershowitz

A Brown professor who takes to Twitter to insist he’d fail a retired Harvard professor is sending a signal about what he considers elite universities to be for.

David Aucoin: Common Sense in Our Schools? It’s Not So Common!

Some days watching the news can seem like a punishment because there is little that reflects common sense.

Sasse’s Open Door for Socialism

Perhaps as rationalization for his willingness to accommodate socialists to defeat President Trump, Gary Sasse appears to be willing to play along with progressives incrementalism.

Political Monday with John DePetro: The Corrupt RI Filter

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for February 3, included talk about:

  • Raimondo’s anti-Trump special-interest PAC.
  • Will the new Providence superintendent earn his pay?
  • Everybody could be right, but is wrong, on the Convention Center.
  • RI gambling giants’ form a super-crony organization.

I’ll be on again Monday, February 10, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

When Every Conversation Is a Labor Fight in Warwick

A familiar subject floated through Rhode Island’s news cycle again last week when Warwick schools Superintendent Philip Thornton reported to his city’s school committee that the district should do something about teacher absenteeism:

Two schools — Wyman Elementary and E.G. Robertson Elementary — have chronic absenteeism rates of 24.4 percent and 22.7 percent, respectively. Chronic teacher absenteeism is defined as missing 18 days or more of school out of a typical 180-day school year.

Two more schools — Oakland Beach Elementary and Sherman Elementary — have rates above 20 percent.

In the 2018-2019 school year, more than 11 percent of all Warwick teachers — 100 teachers — were chronically absent, Thornton said, using data from the Rhode Island Department of Education. That said, more than a third of all teachers — 312 — missed less than five percent of school.

This isn’t just some hobby horse on which the superintendent wanted to beat for some reason.  He raised the issue because teacher attendance is part of the formula that the RI Department of Education (RIDE) uses to grade the Ocean State’s schools.  Looking for some means of holding our education system accountable (without actually changing anything), the state has developed metrics, and the chief executive of an organization has strong incentive to have his metrics look good.

We’re used to these spats, around here, but it’s worth stepping back a moment and plainly noting what is going on.  The superintendent has identified a metric on which he believes the district can make improvements, and the relevant labor union, the Warwick Teachers’ Union, led by Darlene Netcoh, called out the troops and ramped up the objections, staking out ground for the fight.  Some teachers have to work until 67, she says, which drives up the sick time, as if Rhode Islanders in the private sector have anywhere near the days off that government-school teachers get.  Netcoh also attacked the numbers themselves.

Big picture, our elected and appointed officials have to be able to discuss ideas big and small, and they won’t feel as free to do that if every comment or proposal might begin the gears of the labor-unrest machine.  In the private sector, management can discuss things and make plans before a possible dispute is placed in the open.  In the public sector, only the unions have that privilege.

If we want open, transparent government, then we need some social (or legal) pressure on the labor unions to back off.

David Aucoin: Planned Parenthood Wants Their Hands On RI Kids

Increasing sexual activity among school-aged children in Massachusetts (or Rhode Island) would help Planned Parenthood develop life-long customers.

The Starting Foot of the New Superintendent

There’s been something odd about the introduction of the new superintendent for the now-state-run Providence Schools.  The absence of Mayor Jorge Elorza from the public introduction of Harrison Peters was inexplicable.  The first Providence Journal article following that introduction, by union-friend Linda Borg as well as Madeleine List, starts with technical details about the district and the hire and then jumps to: “In Hillsborough County, where he is currently chief of schools, Peters has critics and his admirers.”  The following details are much heavier from the “critics.”

And then there’s general emphasis on the fact that Providence appears to have been his second choice, after having not been chosen for a promotion to Hillsborough County superintendent, while he was “at least” the second choice of Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green, after her first offer fell through.

Talk about starting a new leader off on a negative footing!

Of course, nobody should simply be rah-rah, but the whole thing seems a bit like a typical Rhode Island self-fulfilling prophesy.  From reformers’ perspective there is certainly reason for hope.  After all, Peters touts “that he played an important part in lowering the number of ‘F’ schools in the district by 60 percent, decreasing the student suspension rate by 35 points, adding 10 ‘A’ schools and helping 15 schools improve from ‘D’ to ‘C.'”

Being from a state with some of the strongest school-choice programs in the country, he’ll bring with him knowledge of the tools Florida provides to administrators and families.

One does wonder whether some of the indifference and negativity that appears to surround his hiring indicates that Rhode Island insiders are setting the battleground to get their way knowing what he might conclude and advise.

Larry Fitzmorris: Regionalization with Newport

Results from neither Newport schools nor regionalized schools justify Portsmouth abandoning its stable situation.

Political Monday with John DePetro: Why Can’t Everybody Be Right?

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for January 27, included talk about:

  • The Convention Center, the Speaker, the Republicans, and the Projo
  • Sickness in the Warwick teacher contract
  • Making the yellow shirts count
  • (Slim) hope as a new face enters the Providence school scene

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I’ll be on again Monday, February 3, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

Free School Choice Movie and Event

Rhode Island Families for School Choice is offering an opportunity to spend some time on Martin Luther King Day learning about and celebrating a policy fight that would be a blessing for disadvantaged and minority families:

On behalf of National School Choice Week, please join us for a special screening of Miss Virginia. Hailed as a “must-see” movie by USA Today, the film follows a struggling inner-city mother who sacrifices everything to give her son a good education. Unwilling to allow him to stay in a dangerous school, she launches a movement that could save his future—and that of thousands like him.

After the movie, meet and talk with legendary school choice advocate Virginia Walden Ford (the real-life Miss Virginia!), who will join us in Cranston for this special event. She will also sign copies of her new book, School Choice: A Legacy to Keep.

Note that the event is free and requires RSVP.

Political Monday with John DePetro: Bad Positions for Political Actors

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for January 6, included talk about:

  • RI Congressmen’s bad alignment with the enemy
  • Projo points to key issues for the legislature
  • Linc finds another party to run with
  • RI pols try to get out of the way of the Census

Open post for full audio.

An Off-the-Wall Question at the Center of College

Why would a high school student who has no idea what Stanford is like want to apply there? Because it’s a ticket to the upper classes, and we should be honest about that.

Fighting Progressives at the Mall

Teenage brawls at Providence Place Mall provide a good example of how the advantages of progressive rhetoric lead to bad outcomes.

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