Elisabeth Harrison

After months of anticipation, the General Assembly failed to pass a single bill related to charter schools.

That's good news if you're in the charter school world. It means lawmakers failed to reach agreement on bills that would place new restrictions on the expansion of charter schools and reopen the state funding formula to reduce money for charter schools.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Providence Superintendent Susan Lusi opens up about her tenure in the state’s largest school district, as she prepares to step down. She spoke with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison at the district central office before her departure next week.

While she says she unequivocally believes she has made a difference, Lusi admits that Providence's student test scores leave a lot to be desired.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

One of Rhode Island’s most controversial school leaders is retiring. Fran Gallo, the superintendent of Central Falls public schools, steps down on Friday. Her tenure includes the firing and re-hiring of high school teachers, which thrust Rhode Island into the center of a national debate over public education. Gallo sat down with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison at her office in Central Falls to look back on the firings, and what she’s learned from Rhode Island’s smallest school district.

Elisabeth Harrison

Calling it "the most restrictive and punitive charter school bill in the entire country," the Rhode Island Mayoral Academies lobbied against the legislation, which would require local approval for new and expanding charter schools.

RIMA, one of several charter school and public education advocacy groups to raise concerns about the legislation, cites negative consequences, including a "fiscal catastrophe" for schools in the process of adding grades.

The group used Providence-based Achievement First, which has opened two elementary schools, as an example.


Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza wants to convince more college graduates to stay in the capital city. He’s launched a new initiative to reach out to young people.

He said the goal is to make living in Providence desirable to millennials.

“Per capita, we have the largest number of college graduates of any state in the country,” said Elorza. “These are the entrepreneurs, the civic leaders and they’re the employees of the future. So it’s a priority of mine to make sure that we retain them here.”

On a 6 to 3 vote, the Senate Education Committee passed a bill Wednesday restricting the growth of charter schools.

The legislation sponsored by Senator Adam Satchell (D-West Warwick) requires city or town councils in a host community to approve new charter schools. The bill would also keep charter school funding at the current level until the state adopts a new formula for funding charter and traditional public schools.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

A pair of bills that could make it harder to open more charter schools are again up for committee votes at the Statehouse.

The House bill would place a one-year pause on the creation of new charter schools. After a legislative committee found reasons to re-evaluate the way the state funds public charter schools and public school districts, the bill calls for more time for lawmakers to consider changes.

Governor Gina Raimondo has announced two businessmen to lead the State Council on Elementary and Secondary Education and the State Council on Post-Secondary Education. 

To chair the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, which oversees public schools, Raimondo picked Daniel McConaghy, an executive vice president at Gilbane Building Company.

McConaghy also serves on the board of trustees for LaSalle Academy, a private, Catholic school that counts Raimondo among its lengthy list of prominent graduates.

With Education Commissioner Deborah Gist posting on Facebook that she has left her her job, who is in charge of the Rhode Island Department of Education?

RIPR file photo

The latest version of the state budget would cut nearly $1 million from the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, but most of the governor's other education programs remain intact.

In a written statement, acting Education Commissioner David Abbot praised the budget for increasing aid to school districts, expanding funding for preschool and all-day Kindergarten and boosting aid for school construction.

However, he expressed concerns about an $800,000 cut to the State Department of Education.

UPDATE: The charter school bills have been scratched from Thursday's committee agendas, according to RIPR Political Reporter Ian Donnis at the Statehouse. 

The bills could make it more difficult to open new charter schools. 

One bill calls for a hiatus on granting new charters, due to concerns over funding. A legislative committee has suggested the state re-examine the formula for funding districts and charter schools, which currently receive state and local dollars for each student who enrolls.

Young children in Rhode Island are more ethnically diverse than ever before. That according to new data from Rhode Island Kids Count.

Fewer than three out of every five Rhode Island kids under age five now identify as white. That’s a huge drop from their grandparents’ generation. 91 percent of state residents who are 65 and older identify as white. Kids Count released the numbers as part of a new report on infants, toddlers and their families.

albertogp123 / flickr

A group of community organizations has filed a petition with the State Board of Education to stop high stakes testing from taking effect as early as 2017. The groups are concerned about using the PARCC exam as part of grading or as a graduation requirement.