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.

Elisabeth Harrison

Governor Gina Raimondo’s pick to lead the State Board of Education faces a hearing Wednesday. Barbara Cottam is scheduled to appear before the Senate Education Committee. 

Cottam, who currently works as an executive vice president for Citizens Bank Financial Group, has a background in politics. She worked for governors Bruce Sundlun and Joseph Garrahy, and she’s married to Garrahy’s son, John Garrahy. The couple has two daughters, who attend a private school in Providence.

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. 

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

PARCC testing begins Monday for thousands of Rhode Island students, who are taking the test on computers.

Critics say the test fails to accommodate students who need extra time and students with learning disabilities. But Education officials say students will have ample time to complete PARCC, whether they take it online or on paper.

Don Borman

  Gov. Gina Raimondo gave her first State of the State address last night, unveiling her first budget.

Explore the governor's budget online.

Elisabeth Harrison

Governor Raimondo gave a sneak peak of several programs Wednesday that will be part of her budget proposal.

She's proposing $1.3 million dollars to help high school students get college credit, and $1.75 million to provide some loan forgiveness for college graduates. The idea of that program is to encourage more recent grads to stay in the state.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is about to step down to become superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools. Before she leaves, she reflected on her tenure with Rhode Island Public Radio’s education reporter Elisabeth Harrison. Gist says she made the right move delaying test scores for teacher evaluations. But she was disappointed lawmakers voted to delay using test scores for a high school diploma.


Charter school advocates packed the statehouse rotunda Wednesday to urge lawmakers to continue their support for charter schools. 


A statehouse panel is considering changes that could decrease funding for charter schools. Jeremy Chiappetta from Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy said families should have choices when it comes to public school.

“We are looking to continue to grow a high quality public school sector that includes charter schools, state run schools, independent schools and certainly traditional public schools,.” Chiappetta said.

Teachers across the country are under fire to increase student test scores and start using tougher standards in their classrooms. They’re also about to start using new tests to find out how their students are doing. So what is it like to be a teacher right now, and what concerns do teachers have about the changes in their classrooms? 

Rhode Island Public Radio's education reporter Elisabeth Harrison spoke with Newport Middle School Science Teacher Barbara Walton-Faria to find out. Walton-Faria is the chair of RI Teacher Advisory Council.

Catherine Welch

Governor Gina Raimondo began a series of what her office is calling "listening sessions" as part of the search for a new state commissioner of education.

Rhode Island Public Radio's Elisabeth Harrison reports the governor convened a group of teachers, principals, charter school leaders and district leaders for an invitiation-only event.

About 20 people gathered around tables in a Providence elementary school classroom to give feedback on the search for a new education commissioner.

The event was by invitation only, with guests hand-picked by the governor’s office.