Rhode Island is teeming with freshly minted college graduates this morning. Over the weekend, commencement ceremonies were held at all three public colleges, as well as Johnson &Wales, Roger Williams University, Bryant University, Salve Regina University and Providence College.
At Rhode Island College a flash mob formed at the end of the ceremony. Graduates from the music, theater and dance departments led the crowd of 1,400 in a special rendition of “I’ve had the Time of My Life.”
Rhode Island’s two teachers’ unions are holding a forum for teachers to discuss their dissatisfaction with new policies in the state’s public schools.
Teachers have complained about the pace of changes under State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, and they are particularly concerned about new annual teacher evaluations, which include test scores as one measure of teacher effectiveness. The teachers have asked the state to slow down implementation of the evaluations, saying they are time consuming and need adjustment.
The state Board of Education is scheduled to vote this week on a proposal to arm campus police at the state’s three public colleges. Under the proposed rule, campus presidents would have the authority to decide whether armed security is necessary on their campuses.
Rhode Island is one of 26 states that have promised to consider new science guidelines known as the Next Generation Science Standards. The standards were developed by the same organization that created the Common Core, a group of national standards many states including Rhode Island are now adopting for Math and English.
Business leaders are coming out in support of Deborah Gist, the state’s controversial education commissioner. The Providence Journal reports that two dozen business organizations have asked the State Board of Education to renew Gist’s contract, which is currently under review.
Providence kicks off a 5-month celebration of children’s play Saturday with a pop up play day at India Point Park. The Providence Children’s Museum will be on hand with all kinds of different material, so kids can build forts, play games and get creative. Museum Director Janice O’Donnell says this type of free playtime is important for cognitive and social development.
"We know that children need to play, and we know that children’s time and space for free, self-directed kid-powered play has been declining, and it is certainly a goal of the children’s museum to bring back play."
The Rhode Island student who successfully challenged a prayer banner in Cranston public schools is getting an award from Hugh Hefner.
Jessica Ahlquist will receive a Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award at the playboy mansion in Beverly Hills. Ahlquist writes on her Facebook page that she is honored to be chosen but adds she is not expecting to meet Hugh Hefner in person. She says his daughter Christie Hefner will attend the ceremony, where Ahlquist will receive a plaque and $5,000.