“…adult benefits, rather than the needs of students, often decide the way public education is administered in Rhode Island,” claims an editorial in today’s Providence Journal describing Education Commission Deborah Gist’s State of Education speech last week.
Those benefits? Well, a little later on the editorial mentions this, “Teachers are finally being evaluated.”
If there are others, the editorial does not mention them. My guess is this is an attempt to heap responsibility onto unionized teachers for the central issue cursing public education in Rhode Island: the achievement gap.
If you think teachers from all over the state are the cause of this massive achievement gap that exists between the affluent suburbs and the struggling cities here in Rhode Island you probably wouldn’t do too well on the critical thinking portion of the NECAP test.
The ProJo owes it to Rhode Island to have a more honest look at education policy in Rhode Island. There are very real issues affecting our children and our economy. Among them listed in the op/ed:
“…huge gaps persist between the performance of poor students and those in the middle-class. Low-income students have a four-year graduation rate of 66 percent, compared with 90 percent for higher-income students.”
Bullseye. And it’s so worth noting that this has absolutely zero to do with employee benefits trumping student need.
“Clearly, the dollars Rhode Island taxpayers are pouring into education are not being spent as effectively as they could be,” opines the op/ed.
I’d agree with this too. Last week, the East Greenwich School Committee approved giving new laptops to every high school student. Meanwhile, in Providence, Pawtucket and Woonsocket students still sometimes need to share outdated text books.
But is this because the adults in Providence, Pawtucket and Woonsocket are more greedy than their East Greenwich counterparts? Or is it because East Greenwich has a better ability to offer a more comprehensive education to its students than does Providence, Pawtucket and Woonsocket?
The op/ed says charter schools are proving “even poor students from the toughest neighborhoods can thrive in the right school environment.” The writer should really compare per pupil spending at charter schools compared to their entirely-publicly funded counterparts are accomplishing this.
In the meantime, one failure of education policy perseveres: our inability to have an honest conversation about solutions to the achievement gap between the affluent suburbs and the struggling cites. It’s sad that such a conversation is being stifled by the state’s paper of record because of its obvious abhorrence of organized labor.