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.

School leaders say 90 percent of the faculty at Spaziano Elementary School in Providence support their plan to turn the public school into a charter school.

Spaziano has filed an early “prospectus” detailing its plans to the Providence School Department. District officials have asked all Providence schools to consider becoming charters, and so far two schools have shown an interest in taking them up on the proposal.

Two Providence elementary schools will apply to become charter schools. The first schools entering a new district initiative are Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School and Spaziano Elementary School.

Martin Luther King school leaders say they plan to work the The Learning Community Charter School in Central Falls. Spaziano will partner with the Highlander Charter School in Providence.

More details to come!

MacArthur genius grant recipient and author Junot Diaz is slated to speak at RISD on November 5th. The talk will be open to the public.

Diaz, who teaches writing at MIT, also won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

The book was assigned reading over the summer for all incoming RISD students. School officials say it will be part of this year’s curriculum in both fine arts and liberal arts courses.

Brown will honor its new president, Christina H. Paxson, with an official inauguration ceremony on October 27th. The proceedings will be on the main college green at 2 p.m.

The evening prior to the inauguration, Brown is offering a free night of performances at Veterans Memorial Auditorium. The university says the event will be hosted by actress and Brown alum Kate Burton, and it will include performances by artists from both the Brown and Rhode Island communities.

The Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education meets this week to consider a budget request for the coming fiscal year.

The Department of Education is preparing two scenarios:  one for level-funding and one for a seven percent decrease.

This is one of just two meetings and two work sessions remaining before the board is dissolved in favor of a single Board of Education. The new board will oversee both elementary and secondary schools and Rhode Island’s three institutions of higher education.

Actress Jemima Kirke, who plays free-spirited but aloof Jessa Johansson on HBO’s breakout show “Girls,” ought to know her way around Providence. She’s a recent graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.

Kirke earned a BFA in painting from RISD in 2008. She’s also the daughter of drummer Simon Kirk, of Bad Company fame.

Some of you may know that I’ve been on maternity leave for the last three months, after the birth of my first child.

In fact, anyone listening to Rhode Island Public Radio on July 4th might have even heard a news item announcing the birth of Luna Charlotte Smick earlier that morning.

While schools around the state look for ways to increase their use of technology, some parents are paying thousands of dollars to send their children to a private school with no computers in the classroom at all.

The House and Senate are poised to approve a compromise today that would keep student loan rates from rising. Members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation tell RIPR they expect the measure to pass both the House and Senate.

The deal stops interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans from doubling. The current rate of 3.4 percent will increase to 6.8 percent on Sunday if the measure does not go through.

Massachusetts lawmakers have swiftly passed a bill calling for all school districts to use new teacher evaluations and reduce the role of seniority in personnel decisions.

An estimated 40,000 Rhode Island students will face rising loan bills without action this week from Congress. Senate Democrats and Republicans are looking for a way to avoid the increase, but if they fail to reach a compromise, interest rates on subsidized federal Stafford loans will double on July 1st, rising from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is calling for the closure of the Academy for Career Exploration (ACE), formerly known as Textron/Chamber of Commerce Providence Public Charter School, citing poor academic results and leadership failures.

Outgoing Brown University President Ruth Simmons will take a seat on the board of trustees at Princeton University next month. Simmons is stepping down on June 30th as head of Brown, ending an 11-year tenure at the Providence institution.

Simmons is no stranger to Princeton. She held several positions at the New Jersey school, including that of vice provost, before becoming president of Smith University. When she became president at Brown University, Simmons was the first African-American to lead an Ivy League school.

The American Bar Association has granted preliminary accreditation to the law school at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, clearing the way for students to take the bar exam in any state.

Prior to the preliminary accreditation, UMass law school students could only take the bar in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist says her plan for improving Rhode Island’s public schools will not change, even if she is reporting to a new board of education.

The leadership change is part of the state budget that won approval last night from Senate lawmakers. It has already gotten a green light from the House of Representatives.