The Education Blog

The Education Blog is written by Elisabeth Harrison, Education Reporter and Morning Edition Host for Rhode Island Public Radio. Harrison’s work ranges from reporting on institutions like Brown University and the University of Rhode Island to efforts to reform low performing public schools in Central Falls and Providence.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

The Providence Public Schools have named a new superintendent. Chris Maher will lead the state capital’s school system, after serving as interim superintendent since last summer.

Maher took the helm following the abrupt departure of former city schools Superintendent Susan Lusi. The Providence School Board announced Monday it has voted unanimously to enter contract negotiations with Maher, to take on the position permanently.

Elisabeth Harrison

When Sue Lusi said she was leaving the Providence Public Schools to pursue new professional opportunities, she wasn't kidding. 

Boston-based consulting group Mass Insight announced Monday that Lusi will be the new President and CEO of the non-profit Mass Insight Education.

Elisabeth Harrison

The leader of one of Rhode Island's two powerful teachers' unions sounded unconvinced this week, following the unveiling of State Education Commissioner Ken Wagner's proposal to open public schools to students from other districts and provide more leeway on items like budgets and textbooks.

In a written statement released after Wagner's "State of Education" speech at the General Assembly, National Education Association Rhode Island President Larry Purtill suggested he takes issue with some aspects of the plan.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Public schools across the state could open up to students from other districts, under a new bill from Rhode Island Education Commissioner Ken Wagner. 

Elisabeth Harrison

A bill to require daily recess for students in Kindergarten through 5th grade has been placed on Wednesday's agenda for the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee. The legislation calls for a minimum of 20 minutes for free-play every day.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Kathleen Fogarty (D-South Kingstown), has said playtime is healthy for young kids, who benefit from developing social skills and getting a break from schoolwork. A group of parents has also been organizing support for the idea.

RIPR file photo

Through a partnership with Microsoft, the University of Rhode Island and several other organizations, Governor Gina Raimondo has unveiled a plan to bring computer science to every public school in the state.

Raimondo discussed the initiative she calls "CS4RI" at Tolman High School in Pawtucket on Monday. She was joined by members of the state's congressional delegation and hundreds of Tolman students.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

In the aftermath of allegations of past sexual abuse of students by employees at St. George’s School in Middletown, the school has been accused of violating Rhode Island’s duty to report law for abused and neglected children.

But, as Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison first reported, this law is not as clear as it appears to be. 

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Story Synopsis

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo’s $9 billion budget proposal would increase funding for public schools and give a small bump to colleges and universities.


John Bender / RIPR

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has proposed major changes in the administration of the city’s public schools.The changes will include the creation of several new positions, transferring some current employees out of the central administration and eliminating some vacant posts.

Elorza's proposal comes months after the departure of former Providence Schools Superintendent Susan Lusi, and an audit that found inefficiencies in the central office.

Providence Interim Superintendent Chris Maher said the school system is looking to hire up to 10 new staff members.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Alumni from St. George’s School in Middletown have accused the school of breaking the law by failing to report allegations of sexual abuse spanning decades. There’s more ambiguity in state law than you might think, and it may have contributed to the school's failure to report the abuse.


Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

St. George’s School is under intense scrutiny after a group of former students accused the school covering up years of sexual abuse, much of it dating to the 1970s and 80s. Their accounts raise questions about the culture of the elite, Episcopal boarding school, which remains largely unknown to outsiders.

Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island Public Radio has confirmed the name of another teacher at St. George’s School who has been accused of sexual abuse.

The teacher is referenced as "Employee Perpetrator #5" in the school’s recent investigation. Rhode Island Public Radio believes the teacher in question is Timothy Tefft, who worked at St. George's for just a few months in 1971.

Tefft was let go from St. George's for providing alcohol to students, according to the school's report. The school learned of the allegation of sexual abuse during its recent investigation and reported it to state police.

The Middletown boarding school accused of covering up allegations of sexual abuse provided home loans for the current Head of School Eric Peterson, even though he lives on the school’s campus. Later, the board forgave the loans, which were used to purchase a house on Cape Cod.


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