Sen. Edward Markey's staff estimated that as many as 14 million students in the U.S. could be attending schools contaminated with toxic PCBs. PCBs were banned in the late 70s, but were used in light fixtures and caulking in schools built or renovated between 1950 and 1979. They've been listed as a known human carcinogen and have been tied to an assortment of health problems, such as delayed development and attention problems.


Brown University found the male student responsible for sexual assault in April.

The student, known only as John Doe, sued Brown University after he was suspended for being found responsible for sexually assaulting a female student. He claims encounter was consensual and said Brown’s process for handling the complaint was flawed.  U.S. District court Judge William E. Smith stopped short of ruling the students was a victim of gender bias.

But, Smith did find that the school made “procedural errors” during John Doe’s disciplinary hearing.


State officials say a new initiative to increase the use of digital textbooks will cut costs for many students and make higher education more accessible for everyone, including English language learners.

The open-license, digital textbooks are generally free and can be downloaded on a student’s computer. They can also be updated or changed the professor giving the course.

Sixty Rhode Island teachers are heading back to college to learn how to teach English as a second language. The program, a collaboration between urban school districts, the state and the Rhode Island Foundation, will cover the cost of tuition so that more teachers can gain certifications to teach English Language Learners or teach in bi-lingual programs known as dual language classrooms.

Ready to Learn Providence, an education nonprofit, is working to regain funding from the U.S. Department of Education. The nonprofit has already laid off five employees and expects another round of layoffs next week.

Federal education officials put a hold on $1.5 million of the nonprofit's funding following allegations of embezzlement at Ready To Learn's parent organization, The Providence Plan.

Ready to Learn runs early childhood education programs in the Providence Public School system. 

Onne van der Wal

The University of Rhode Island has received a three-million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation. The Graduate School of Oceanography will use the money to charter a research trip through the Canadian Arctic Northwest Passage.

During the five-week journey college students will study the effects of climate change on the arctic waters says, URI’s Gail Scowcroft, one of the lead organizers of the trip.

“The arctic is rapidly changing, and because it’s changing so fast the chemistry can give us clues as to what’s going on,” said Scowcroft.

albertogp123 / flickr/creative commons license

Rhode Island students scored a little bit better this spring on the annual standardized test known as PARCC, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

In the second year of the test, scores improved by an average of 5 percentage points in math and 2 percentage points in English.  But State Education Commissioner Ken Wagner said gaps between urban and suburban students showed little or no change, and in some cases worsened.

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

  Students in Newtown, Connecticut will return to classes at Sandy Hook elementary next week. It’s the first time students have attended the school since a mass shooting four years ago. The school was demolished and has now been rebuilt.

The entirely-new building has improved security: a gated entrance, bulletproof windows, and lots of cameras. Architect and project manager Julia McFadden says the hope was to incorporate those needs into a soothing learning environment.


As students enjoy the last few weeks of summer vacation, faculty at Rhode Island College are gearing up for a new semester and a new president. 

Elisabeth Harrison

In Middletown, St. George’s boarding school has announced a settlement with up to 30 former students, who allege they were sexually abused. 

Providence College

Providence College celebrates its centennial this year with a lineup of famous guests and special events. 


Education advocates say there’s a lot to like about the state’s new budget for public schools. That includes new funding for special education and early childhood education. But some advocates are concerned about the future of charter schools.

For more on that, Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison spoke to Daniela Fairchild from the Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now, a group that advocates for charter schools and higher standards for all schools, among other issues.



A new analysis of executive compensation at state universities shows the University of Rhode Island trailing much of New England.  The Chronicle of Higher Education looked at state college president salaries across the country in fiscal year 2015. URI’s David Dooley made $330,000 that year, less than any other president of a flagship university in New England, except the University of Maine.


Rhode Island College will offer the state’s first undergraduate certificate for students with intellectual disabilities. 

Elisabeth Harrison

Starting in September, every public school in Providence will designate teams to meet one-on-one with transgender students and their families. Providence Public Schools spokesperson Laura Hart said it’s part of a new policy aimed at making sure schools respect the rights of transgender and other gender non-conforming students.