Providence College

Activists rallied at Providence College Monday to call attention to what they say is racial profiling. Professor Julia Jordan-Zachery has complained she was interrogated by campus police for parking in a faculty space. The demonstrators said the incident is part of a larger pattern of targeting minorities by campus police officers.

Jordan-Zachery filed an official complaint with the college last fall. Providence College Spokesman Steve Maurano said the complaint was resolved quickly, and the head of campus security ordered additional training for campus police.

Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo is praising the state’s Board of Education for approving new regulations that allow qualified students to do college-level coursework while they are still in high school.

The Governor had sought that approval, saying it is a step toward creating Prepare RI, the jobs plan initiative Raimondo has proposed to allow students to finish professional certifications or college degrees more quickly.

$1.3 million for this program is included in the governor’s proposed budget.

The number of babies born with exposure to opioid drugs and alcohol nearly doubled in Rhode Island between 2006 and 2013. 

That’s one of the more startling facts in the new Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook. Executive Director Elizabeth Burke-Bryant said unlike earlier drug problems, this one is not concentrated in urban areas.

“90 percent of babies born with drugs in their system, were born to white mothers and 32 percent lived in the four core cities, which means the majority of these cases are spread to the rest of Rhode Island,” said Bryant.

Expect the unexpected in Rhode Island politics, right? Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. Your tips and thoughts are always welcome (idonnis at ripr dot org), and feel free to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

John Bender / RIPR

Robert Walsh, executive director of the National Education Association Rhode Island, joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss Lincoln Chafee's possible presidential run; the proposed settlement of the state pension conflict; and what's ahead for public education.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island is looking for a new leader for K-12 public schools as controversy grows over standardized testing and charter schools. So what do students want from the next commissioner of education?

Rhode Island Public Radio education reporter Elisabeth Harrison asked that question of three Providence students: 16-year-old Kendall Hall, 16-year-old Diane Gonzales and 15-year-old Xilian Sansoucy. They are members of the student advocacy groups Young Voices and the Providence Student Union.

Rhode Island House leaders say they plan to restore more than $2 million taken out of the governor’s budget to pay for private school bussing and text books.

House Finance Committee Chair Raymond Gallison Jr., recalls the funding was helpful to his family when his two sons were in private school.

“They got the bus. I went one way, my wife went another way and getting to the private school that they were going to, this certainly was something that was of great assistance to us,” said Gallison.


A Brown task force on sexual assault has completed its recommendations for the university. They’re aimed at improving the way the university responds to complaints of sexual violence.

The task force urges Brown to adopt a single policy on sexual assault, dating violence, harassment and stalking. The group says the university should centralize the process for handling complaints in a single office.

Elisabeth Harrison

 A group of undergraduates at Roger Williams University have taken up the cause of an imprisoned Chinese dissident. And in the process they formed a special bond with his college-aged daughter. Rhode Island Public Radio education reporter Elisabeth Harrison reports the group was recently reunited at the Roger Williams campus in Bristol.

A small group of students sits on low couches in the library at Roger Williams University, just before lunchtime. One of them is a petite 20-year-old from China, with long, black hair and round cheeks. Her name is Jewher Ilham.

Lawyer and former state Supreme Court justice Robert Flanders joins Bonus Q+A this week to discuss the state pension dispute, government reform, Providence finances, public education, and more.

For more Flanders, listen to his conversation with us on Political Roundtable.

Catherine Welch

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has appointed a parent and a history professor to the school board. The mayor also re-appointed board member Keith Oliveira.

Mark Santow, a Providence resident, is an associate professor and chair of the History Department at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth

Muyideen Ibiyemi has children in Providence public schools, serves on the Highlander Charter School Parent Teacher Organization and is the president of a Nigerian community group.


RISD has announced that filmmaker John Waters will address this year's graduating class.

Waters, a quirky, independent filmmaker who successfully crossed over to mainstream Hollywood, has written and directed more than a dozen movies, including the cult classic Pink Flamingos. Some of his other credits include the 1980's hit Hairspray and Cry Baby, starring Johnny Depp.

Elisabeth Harrison

High School students in the Bristol-Warren Regional School District were unable to begin PARCC testing as scheduled on Monday. The district says a technical problem led them to delay testing by one day.

A spokeswoman from the superintendent's office said she was unaware of the specifics of the problem, but described it as a technical glitch. She said the district had scheduled an extra day for testing, just in case such a problem arose.

In the absence of opt-out numbers from the state, I'm keeping an unofficial tally. Here's what district leaders have reported so far.

Portsmouth: 4-5 percent going into testing; may be slightly higher or lower when they tally the final participation rates after testing window closes.

Cumberland: 4 percent (or slightly less).

Middletown: 12 refusals.

Bristol-Warren: 50 opt outs, just under 2.5 percent.

Providence: Scattered opt outs, specific numbers expected later this week.


State officials say the first day of PARCC testing passed with no major problems, although some students have refused to take the test. 

As of 3:30 Monday afternoon, a total of 18,910 tests had been started in Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island Department of Education reported isolated glitches, but no school-wide or class-wide problems with the new computerized exam, which is replacing NECAP as the state's annual standardized test of Math and English.