education

John Bender / RIPR

Ken Wagner is Governor Gina Raimondo’s nomination for education commissioner. The post has been open since former commissioner Deborah Gist left for a job in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Wagner comes to the Ocean State from the New York state education department.

Wagner got his start in education policy at age 18, when he was elected to a local school board in New York. Since then, his education career includes working as school psychologist and middle school principal. 

John Bender / RIPR

Rhode Island lawmakers passed legislation requiring more music performance opportunities in public schools. The bill mandates that all public secondary schools offer performing ensembles such as band, chorus or orchestra.

Most public schools in Rhode Island have performance ensembles, but some are offered before or after school and sometimes for no credit.  Advocates say the new mandate is a step towards incorporating these ensembles into standard arts curricula.

Summer in Rhode Island means time to grab a book and sink your toes into the sand, or head out to the nearest lawn chair. For a few summer reading tips, Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison turned to Nicole Merola, chair of the Department of Literary Arts and Studies at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Nicole Merola's summer book picks:

 

"I've just started it, and I have to say that I'm really kind of engrossed in the way that he is weaving together music, musical composition, chemistry and bioterrorism."

Taylor.a

The newest mayoral charter school set to open in Rhode Island has picked a location in downtown Woonsocket. 

  RISE Prep will start with a kindergarten class this fall and grow to include a middle school. This will be the first charter elementary school in Woonsocket.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Charter schools dodged a bullet, this month when Rhode Island lawmakers ended the legislative session without agreement between House and Senate bills that could have changed the way charter schools are funded and restricted their ability to grow. 

Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison asked Tim Groves, the head of the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools, whether he thinks public opinion is turning against charter schools.

Elisabeth Harrison

After months of anticipation, the General Assembly failed to pass a single bill related to charter schools.

That's good news if you're in the charter school world. It means lawmakers failed to reach agreement on bills that would place new restrictions on the expansion of charter schools and reopen the state funding formula to reduce money for charter schools.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Providence Superintendent Susan Lusi opens up about her tenure in the state’s largest school district, as she prepares to step down. She spoke with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison at the district central office before her departure next week.

While she says she unequivocally believes she has made a difference, Lusi admits that Providence's student test scores leave a lot to be desired.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

One of Rhode Island’s most controversial school leaders is retiring. Fran Gallo, the superintendent of Central Falls public schools, steps down on Friday. Her tenure included the firing and re-hiring of high school teachers, which thrust Rhode Island into the center of a national debate over public education. Gallo sat down with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison at her office in Central Falls to look back on the firings, and what she’s learned from Rhode Island’s smallest school district.

Elisabeth Harrison

Calling it "the most restrictive and punitive charter school bill in the entire country," the Rhode Island Mayoral Academies lobbied against the legislation, which would require local approval for new and expanding charter schools.

RIMA, one of several charter school and public education advocacy groups to raise concerns about the legislation, cites negative consequences, including a "fiscal catastrophe" for schools in the process of adding grades.

The group used Providence-based Achievement First, which has opened two elementary schools, as an example.

RIPR FILE

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza wants to convince more college graduates to stay in the capital city. He’s launched a new initiative to reach out to young people.

He said the goal is to make living in Providence desirable to millennials.

“Per capita, we have the largest number of college graduates of any state in the country,” said Elorza. “These are the entrepreneurs, the civic leaders and they’re the employees of the future. So it’s a priority of mine to make sure that we retain them here.”

On a 6 to 3 vote, the Senate Education Committee passed a bill Wednesday restricting the growth of charter schools.

The legislation sponsored by Senator Adam Satchell (D-West Warwick) requires city or town councils in a host community to approve new charter schools. The bill would also keep charter school funding at the current level until the state adopts a new formula for funding charter and traditional public schools.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

A pair of bills that could make it harder to open more charter schools are again up for committee votes at the Statehouse.

The House bill would place a one-year pause on the creation of new charter schools. After a legislative committee found reasons to re-evaluate the way the state funds public charter schools and public school districts, the bill calls for more time for lawmakers to consider changes.

Governor Gina Raimondo has announced two businessmen to lead the State Council on Elementary and Secondary Education and the State Council on Post-Secondary Education. 

To chair the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, which oversees public schools, Raimondo picked Daniel McConaghy, an executive vice president at Gilbane Building Company.

McConaghy also serves on the board of trustees for LaSalle Academy, a private, Catholic school that counts Raimondo among its lengthy list of prominent graduates.

With Education Commissioner Deborah Gist posting on Facebook that she has left her her job, who is in charge of the Rhode Island Department of Education?

RIPR file photo

The latest version of the state budget would cut nearly $1 million from the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, but most of the governor's other education programs remain intact.

In a written statement, acting Education Commissioner David Abbot praised the budget for increasing aid to school districts, expanding funding for preschool and all-day Kindergarten and boosting aid for school construction.

However, he expressed concerns about an $800,000 cut to the State Department of Education.

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