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

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.


Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare has passed a bill that would make it harder to open new charter schools in Rhode Island.

The bill requires approval from the city or town council of any municipality that would send students to the proposed school. Current state law requires approval only from the State Department of Education.

Charter school leaders have said the bill will curtail the growth of charter schools, especially those that serve multiple cities and towns.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

St. George's School and a group of former students who have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse have announced that Scott Harshbarger will no longer conduct the independent investigation into the school's history.

In a joint statement, the school and the former students say they were unable to come to an agreement with Harshbarger and his firm Casner & Edwards over the terms of engagement.

Instead, the two parties have named a new investigator, Martin F. Murphy, of the Boston law firm Foley Hoag.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

The one that would require city and town councils to approve any new charter school, or the expansion of an existing charter school, if students from their communities could attend?

Well, that bill is back on the agenda at the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee for January 20th. 

After a hearing this week, the bill was held for further study.

Elisabeth Harrison

A task force has reviewed the way Rhode Island pays for public schools and recommended some changes to Governor Gina Raimondo. The group met Thursday evening to finalize the report.

The panel was formed amid growing concerns that charter schools draw too much funding away from traditional public schools. RIPR's Elisabeth Harrison reviewed a draft of the report and spoke with Morning Edition Host Chuck Hinman about some of the highlights.

  

Elisabeth Harrison

On Wednesday the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee is scheduled to consider a bill that would require city councils to sign off on new charter schools, or the expansion of an existing charter school, proposing to serve students from their communities.

A bill scheduled in the House Finance Committee would require education officials to study the financial impact of proposed charter schools and reject those that would hurt the finances of local school districts.

Elisabeth Harrison

St. George's School has announced plans to retain a "third party independent investigator" to complete a comprehensive investigation into sexual abuse at the Aquidneck Island boarding school.

The investigator will be chosen by the school's board and a group of former students, who have come forward with allegations of sexual assault.

Elisabeth Harrison

In a written statement, St. George's School  "deeply apologizes" for the harm done by employees and former students accused of sexual abuse.

"We recognize the long-lasting impact of sexual abuse and are dedicated to working with survivors to aid them in healing from its painful aftermath," the school said on Tuesday.

Lara/Creative Common License

After releasing a report that found 26 students were sexually abused by multiple staff members in the 1970s and '80s, St. George's School is back in the headlines this week. Attorneys representing survivors of the abuse say the school's report downplays the number of victims.

Elisabeth Harrison

A pair of Providence schools are testing out standing desks, a growing trend in workplaces across the country.

West Broadway Middle School has about 30 of the desks, which were donated by the manufacturer, Ergotron. Math teacher Emily Mowry says she likes the way they move easily and quietly around the classroom, and students have quickly gotten used to them. 

"I would say it has a positive impact on most kids, and you’ll see some kids who may have been fidgety before, get that nervous energy out just with the standing," Mowry said.

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