That's the question a legislative panel is investigating. Lawmakers are scheduled to hear from several local elected officials and school leaders on Friday.
Their concern is the impact of the state formula for funding public schools, and the way it calculates tuition for charter schools.
Cumberland Town Councilor Arthur Lambi, a Republican, is among those planning to testify. According to Lambi, Cumberland sends about $3 million to charter schools every year, and that number is expected to grow as charter schools add more seats.
Rhode Island's Board of Education is poised to vote Tuesday on a new mayoral academy charter school that would serve Woonsocket, North Smithfield and Burrillville.
The Department of Education has recommended preliminary approval for the school, which eventually hopes to serve 729 students in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade under the name RISE Mayoral Academy.
The board is also scheduled to vote on a proposed expansion that would more than double the student body at Blackstone Academy, a charter high school in Pawtucket.
Rhode Island's Council for Elementary and Secondary Education will take up renewals for a group of charter schools and requests for school construction funding later today. The Council will also consider a decision that could have implications for summer school programs.
The Rhode Island Department of Education has scheduled a round of hearings on six new charter schools proposed for the state.
The hearings are intended to gather public input on the proposals, which include two new mayoral academies in Woonsocket and Warwick.
Mayoral academies serve students from multiple districts, which usually include a mixture of urban low-income and suburban communities. They pride themselves on challenging academic programs and promoting college prep even for the youngest students.
Blackstone Valley Prep, a mayoral academy based in Cumberland, will receive $2.2 million from the Charter School Growth fund to help pay for a planned expansion. Blackstone Valley Prep currently runs two elementary schools and a middle school, serving students from Cumberland, Central Falls, Pawtucket and Lincoln.
Achievement First is a brand new charter school in Providence that also operates schools in Connecticut and New York. Critics fought hard to keep it from opening in Rhode Island, arguing that among other problems, it would take money away from other public schools. But supporters and organizers from Achievement First say they are offering an alternative to public schools that are struggling. Rhode Island Public Radio's Education Reporter Elisabeth Harrison took a tour of the Providence school.
I had a chance to sit down with Diane Ravitch this week prior to her talk at the University of Rhode Island. She told me she thinks Rhode Island should give up the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) as a graduation requirement and halt plans to add test scores to teacher evaluations.
Ravitch also weighed in on charter schools, saying she believes they can play a helpful role in some circumstances. Here's the full interview.
As Rhode Island debates high school diplomas tied to test scores, a prominent critic of standardized testing comes to make her case at the University of Rhode Island. Diane Ravitch, a research professor at New York University, is scheduled to speak this evening as part of URI's honors colloquium on education.