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.

Budget Changes Charter School Funding

Jun 8, 2016
Ian Donnis / RIPR

The House Finance Committee has changed the structure of payments made by local school districts to charter schools and mayoral academies.

Governor Raimondo had proposed an across-the-board decrease in tuition payments made to charter schools, but the House committee voted to give municipalities more options when it comes to reimbursing the charter schools.

St. George's Head Of School Announces Resignation

Jun 8, 2016
Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

The head of St. George's School will not seek an extension of his contract wheni it expires in the Spring of 2017. 

"I am enormously grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of St. George's," said Eric Peterson in a written statement Tuesday. "I am hopeful that announcing this decision now will allow for a thorough, national search for a successor, a process that requires substantial lead time and significant effort."

Elisabeth Harrison

State police will not pursue any criminal charges following their investigation into sexual abuse allegations at St. George’s School in Middletown. The state police, working in conjunction with the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office, announced the end of their investigation on Thursday afternoon.


Transgender advocates and civil rights groups plan to urge Rhode Island to adopt a statewide policy on transgender students in public schools. Last week the federal government issued guidance that says transgender students must be allowed to use the bathroom and locker room of the gender they identify with.

The Obama administration also instructed teachers to use the name and pronoun the family prefers.

Roger Williams University, Rhode Island College and Providence College hold commencement exercises this weekend, the start of several weekends honoring the class of 2016.

Providence College graduates will hear from Marathon Bombing survivor Heather Abbott at a ceremony at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Sunday. At Roger Williams, commencement exercises begin Saturday morning at the seaside campus in Bristol.

Chuck Hinman

Providence residents Ger V. Xiong and his daughter Mailee Kue tell RIPR's Chuck Hinman the story of their family's migration from the mountains of Laos to Rhode Island.


Higher ed officials have tapped Frank Sánchez, vice chancellor for student affairs at City University of New York, as the next president of Rhode Island College. He will succeed RIC President Nancy Carriuolo to become the the 10th president of Rhode Island's oldest public college.

Sánchez was one of four finalists for the top post at RIC.

“While it was a difficult decision, we selected Dr. Sánchez because of his commitment to students," said Bill Foulkes, chair of the Council on Postsecondary Education and head of the presidential search committee.

Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island's Council on Postsecondary Education has scheduled a special meeting Wednesday, listing "Appointment of the new president of Rhode Island College" as an action item. The notice comes in advance of a full state Board of Education meeting, scheduled for next week.

The council is seeking a replacement for outgoing President Nancy Carriuolo, who resigns this month. 

John Bender / RIPR

Advanced placement – or AP – courses are offered in many high schools as a way for students to take college-level classes and impress college admissions officers. Over the past decade, the number of students taking these challenging courses has nearly doubled. But one private high school in Rhode Island is saying no more to the AP. Lincoln School in Providence plans to stop offering AP courses in the fall of 2017. Lincoln Head of School Suzanne Fogarty discussed the decision with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison.

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Just two decades ago, the vast majority of Rhode Island children had elevated levels of lead in their blood when they were tested at the start of Kindergarten. Today, the percentage has dropped into the single digits, according to Rhode Island Kids Count Executive Director Elizabeth Burke Bryant, whose organization started tracking blood lead statistics in the mid-1990s.

Elisabeth Harrison

Governor Gina Raimondo said Wednesday she would veto at least one bill designed to make it harder to open new charter schools. Speaking at an on-the-record lunch with reporters, Raimondo discussed a bill that would require local elected officials to sign off on new or expanding charter schools.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

The Providence Public Schools have named a new superintendent. Chris Maher will lead the state capital’s school system, after serving as interim superintendent since last summer.

Maher took the helm following the abrupt departure of former city schools Superintendent Susan Lusi. The Providence School Board announced Monday it has voted unanimously to enter contract negotiations with Maher, to take on the position permanently.

Elisabeth Harrison

When Sue Lusi said she was leaving the Providence Public Schools to pursue new professional opportunities, she wasn't kidding. 

Boston-based consulting group Mass Insight announced Monday that Lusi will be the new President and CEO of the non-profit Mass Insight Education.

Elisabeth Harrison

The leader of one of Rhode Island's two powerful teachers' unions sounded unconvinced this week, following the unveiling of State Education Commissioner Ken Wagner's proposal to open public schools to students from other districts and provide more leeway on items like budgets and textbooks.

In a written statement released after Wagner's "State of Education" speech at the General Assembly, National Education Association Rhode Island President Larry Purtill suggested he takes issue with some aspects of the plan.