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.

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.

The Rhode Island Foreign Language Association is calling for a new post at the State Department of Education to oversee foreign language education in public schools.

taylor.a/creative commons license

Three Rhode Island school districts have been chosen for a new state initiative aimed at preparing students for jobs in high tech industries. Newport, Providence and Westerly will be part of the program known as P-TECH; short for Pathways in Technology Early College High School program.

Lara/Creative Common License

An elite, private school in Middletown is at the center of an unfolding scandal over sexual abuse. After years of silence in some cases, several former students  say they were abused by the school's longtime athletic trainer, Al Gibbs.  The Boston Globe first broke the story.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Islanders are reacting to the passage of new federal legislation for public schools. The "Every Student Succeeds Act" is expected to get a signature Thursday from President Barack Obama. Rhode Island Association of School Committees Executive Director Tim Duffy said a new law will help state and local officials move forward with their efforts to improve public schools.

RIPR file photo

The State Council on Elementary and Secondary Education is scheduled to vote Wednesday on new rules for the length of the school day and the school year. The regulations are supposed to clarify some language around snow days, after multiple storms last winter. 

 A group of parents and other advocates seized on the rule change as an opportunity to push for  minimum requirements for recess in elementary schools. 

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