Chariho School Parents’ Forum

September 30, 2008

RYSE on the defense

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 5:18 pm

I get a lot of calls from parents with special education needs (three in the last month alone).  Many of these calls are about listening as they just want the problem fixed and they don’t want to get involved.  There are a couple of exceptions to that rule who are working very hard behind the scenes but for the most part they just want the problem solved and will go about their business.  In light of those calls, I couldn’t help but smile when I received this email from Superintendent Ricci today.  I share so you too may enjoy.  I wonder why he didn’t mention the 8 percent math proficiency rate?  Or how our legal bills tripled when RYSE was created because of all the parents fighting to keep their kids OUT of RYSE?  And I wonder if our resident Retired BMA would have written this the same way.

From Your Superintendent…

October 2008

Dear Friends…

What is the question that I’m asked most often?  Clearly, it’s…”Why was The R.Y.S.E. School established?”

Most think there was a financial reason for establishing The R.Y.S.E. School.  This is not correct.  The R.Y.S.E. School was not established for financial reasons.

The R.Y.S.E. School was established because of dissatisfaction and frustration with the way in which our Chariho out-of-district students were being educated.  These challenging students were often “bounced” from facility to facility because of disciplinary infractions, had poor attendance records, failed to meet high academic standards, and did not receive critical clinical services.

Today, The R.Y.S.E. School houses a clinical day program and an alternative learning program.  The alternative learning program (regular education) was formerly housed in rented space at Chickadee Farms.  The clinical day program (special education) houses students who were formerly bused to out-of-district facilities.

All R.Y.S.E. School students…
     1.  meet the same graduation requirements, including The Graduation Portfolio, as those who attend Chariho High School,
     2.  follow the Chariho curriculum in all subject areas,
     3.  engage in more project-based activities,
     4.  are educated in smaller classrooms with ample support,
     5.  integrate into High School and Career and Technical Center classes and extra-curricular activities when they are ready to be successful,
     6.  participate in service learning activities, and
     7.  follow a level-based discipline system.

Perhaps the best way to become knowledgeable about and familiar with The R.Y.S.E. School is to observe our school in action.  Please contact Director Carolyn Garlick at to schedule a time to visit.


September 27, 2008

WS on the last SC meeting

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 11:10 pm

Not sure why it took so long to be reported – but here is the Westerly Sun report on the last meeting. 

What the reporter didn’t (or couldn’t) tell you is exactly how this came up.  A parent at the St. Pius open house said she was told the ride would be 3 hours if picked up at her home (5:30).  A 2 1/2 hour ride if picked up at the group stop (the town hall).   Other parents made comments and one asked me to speak with the principal.  The principal told me that this has been an issue – Parents do contact Chariho – it hasn’t changed.  

I later called the bus company.  She was not aware of any 5:30 pick ups and said, ‘I don’t think we pick up anyone before 6:00.’  Which confirmed ride times much longer than a Chariho student. 

I got three calls from people but they all were parents who drove their kids to the school – they wouldn’t put the children through the 3-4 hours per day on the bus. 

I contacted Ricci and he said, ‘he was unaware of anyone on the bus for longer than an hour in the district’ – I asked again clarifying it was an “out of district” student. 

So I called the St. Pius principal and told him that I would put the issue on the agenda and if someone wanted to talk about it they could call me but should show up and tell everyone else.  He sent out a notice making this offer.

The reporter also didn’t tell you that there were 2 agenda items – one of a parent who wrote a letter (and it was NOT someone I spoke with) and my agenda item. 

The reporter also twisted the words to suggest I was hiding the fact that my kids went to St. Pius.  Anyone who watched the school meeting knew I was open about it – and they have short ride times so my motivation isn’t self interest.  I did this because my commitment is to education – not Chariho.  And these ride times are insane.  We don’t allow it for the public school students because we recognize the detrimental effects – why would we treat these kids differently?  I just can’t imagine being 5 years old and having to ride on the bus for 2 hours in the morning and again on the way home – even 1 1/2 if using a group stop – its crazy.  No wonder these kids are bouncing off the walls.  But here’s the article anyway.


WOOD RIVER JCT. – The Chariho Regional School Commit­tee defeated a proposal that could have been titled “No child left on a long bus ride.”
Nearly 10 parents attended a Chariho Regional School Commit­tee meeting earlier this week to protest their children’s 1½- to 2­hour bus ride to a private school.Under state law, the school district must provide transportation for students living within the tri-town area, whether it is to a public or private school.
Matthew P. Jeffries, of Wood River Junction, said his 8- and 9­year-old children spend at least 1½ hours on a bus to The Compass School in Kingston.
And Hope Valley couple Frank and LuAnn DiPietro told the com­mittee their 9-year-old twins are
required to catch a bus to St. Pius X School in Westerly at 7:15 a.m. – a half-hour earlier than last year and just more than an hour before school starts.
The committee members — some expressing sympathy for the fami­lies’ plight — defeated 2-9 a pro­posal to set a 1-hour limit on bus rides for students living in the Chariho region and attending

school within Washington County.
Instead, it invited the par­ents to meet with a trans­portation manager and the district’s human resources administrator, who were at the meeting.
According to some school officials, that’s what the par­ents should have done first. Chariho’s transportation pol­icy, posted on the district’s Web site, says an appeal to a bus company decision should be directed to the superin­tendent, and then to the school committee — which is ultimately responsible for student transportation under current state law.
“You chose to circumvent our normal policy,” commit­tee Chairman William G. Day of Richmond told Jeffries after he asked if he should read his letter to inform the public of its con­tent. “We know what you wrote and we’re giving you an opportunity to add any­thing to it because we’re not
going to get to any give and take right now.”
Committeeman Andrew McQuaide of Charlestown recommended Jeffries and the parents meet with the school board’s three-person Transportation Subcommit­tee, overseen by Human Resources Administrator Susan Rogers. And Chariho Superintendent Barry J. Ricci said the district’s administration typically solves transportation issues “99 percent of the time.”
“This is what we were told
to do,” LuAnn DiPietro told school officials, referring to a note that “said come to this meeting.”
Committeeman William Felkner of Ashaway then revealed that he invited par­ents to attend the session. He proposed changes to the district’s transportation poli­cy, which he said limits bus rides to one hour for stu­dents attending Chariho schools.
(Rogers later told the com­mittee that the 1-hour limit is not stated in Chariho’s transportation policy, but is “general practice.”) Saying that all students should be treated equally, Felkner told the committee: “In-district kids are never on the bus for more than an hour and we find a way to make it work. These people pay their taxes. … I strongly believe we should set a poli­cy” to limit bus rides for all students transported within Washington County to 1 hour.
Citing financial concerns
and a need for further study, other members shot down his proposal. In addition to Felkner, George Abbott of Hopkinton was the lone sup­porter.
What Felkner didn’t dis­close during the session was that his 5- and 6-year-old children also attend St. Pius. After the meeting, he told a reporter that his children do not have a lengthy bus ride because they’re at one of the last bus stops on the route.
During a recent open house gathering at St. Pius, Felkner said the issue of “transportation came up” among parents. Felkner said he also asked St. Pius’s prin­cipal to refer parents to him if they had concerns with transportation, adding that “more people showed up” at Tuesday’s meeting than he expected.
Devin Baccari, of Hope Valley, said the Chariho administration had been “helpful” when she contacted the district about her 6-year­old
daughter’s bus route. She said it allowed her child to use a different bus stop “but I still have to drive 10 to 15 minutes to take my daughter there.”
She and other parents who spoke before the committee said they favored group bus stops and were willing to drive to one, if it meant their child would have a shorter bus ride.
Before meeting with par­ents in another room, First Student Manager Lillian Benoit told the committee that the company polls par­ents before the start of the school year to ask if they would prefer a group or indi­vidual bus stop.
But the parents showed frustration over the process to determine their child’s bus route, accusing the bus com­pany First Student of being “uncooperative” when they tried to request information or attempt to change their
child’s assigned stop.

September 24, 2008

Treating private, charter and public students alike

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 11:01 pm

A dozen or more parents came to the Committee meeting on Tuesday to testify about the difficulty they have with the current bus riding times.  According to the parents present and others who have contacted me directly, some of these students are on the bus for 2 hours or more, each way.

There is a policy (guideline?) that says in-district students will not be on the bus for longer than one hour but no such policy exists for private or charter students.  I made a motion to treat the students the same but it failed.  Ricci said he was unaware and if the parents would notify him it would be taken care of.  A parent present said that they have been telling the school about this problem for years and that if individuals stopped complaining it is because they have given up and drive the kids themselves.

Science scores in

Filed under: Student Performance — Editor @ 8:18 pm

RS reminds me that the science scores are in – as reported at the projo.

It is widely accepted that if a student does not read well by the 4th grade they are set up for failure.  Science is just a reflection of those failings.  And I don’t buy the “lack of adequate curriculum” as a viable excuse – if Barrington gets it, then other schools have access to the same information.

Pasted below are school scores.

More than 33,000 students in grades 4, 8 and 11 took the state’s first-ever science test in May, and results were released yesterday. A district breakdown of the percentage of students proficient on the test:

District 4th 8th 11th
Barrington 70 65 56
Bristol Warren 46 19 19
Burrillville 40 30 9
Central Falls 15 1 4
Chariho 55 30 21
Coventry 46 31 15
Cranston 50 17 14
Cumberland 40 21 18
East Greenwich 58 44 39
East Providence 36 11 8
Exeter-W. Greenwich 37 29 26
Foster 56
Foster-Glocester 19 14
Glocester 50
Jamestown 43 30  
Johnston 45 24 16
Lincoln 52 24 26
Little Compton 50 21
Middletown 39 34 16
Narragansett 51 29 27
Newport 35 12 15
New Shoreham 70 * 25
North Kingstown 57 30 26
North Providence 32 11 10
North Smithfield 52 14 27
Pawtucket 17 7 9
Portsmouth 52 30 36
Providence 9 2 4
Scituate 53 39 17
Smithfield 59 44 29
South Kingstown 52 44 36
Tiverton 49 16 31
Warwick 43 16 13
Westerly 48 26 22
West Warwick 25 13 15
Woonsocket 21 3 5
Charter/Other schools
Beacon Charter Sch. 5
Blackstone Academy 3
The Compass Sch. 71 27
CVS Highlander 24 6
Davies Career & Tech 3
International Charter 10
Kingston Hill Academy48
Learning Community 23
MET Career & Tech 3
Paul Cuffee Charter Sch.32 8

– The school does not provide this grade.* Too few students to report.

Source: Rhode Island Department of Education

September 23, 2008

School Committee & Board of Regents meetings tonight

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 1:16 pm

The Chariho meeting is at 7  – here is the agenda.

Today at 5 is the meeting at the Board of Regents.  We are in the last stretch to get true accountability – they need to hear from parents.  If you have not signed up for Angus Davis’ email alerts, they are a  good way to keep in the loop.  Sign up information at the bottom – here is the latest email,

Important Hearing Tuesday to Bring More Great Teachers to RI SchoolsImageFew things are more important in raising student achievement than the effectiveness of that student’s classroom teacher. One of the most exciting programs in recent years to bring great teachers into our highest-need urban classrooms is Teach for America, a highly competitive Americorps program attracting our nation’s top graduates from our most selective and academically challenging universities, and asking them to commit to teach for two years in a low-income school. Corps members do not have a traditional education degree, so the TFA program helps a Harvard Economics Major gain the skills she needs to be an effective High School Math teacher in Harlem, NY or Washington, DC, through pre-service training and extensive in-service supports.

The program has been a huge success. TFA teachers have been shown in multiple studies to be more effective in raising student achievement than traditionally certified teachers. After spending 2 years teaching low-income kids in the classroom, more than 60% of TFA alumni are still involved in education. Those that go on to other fields become fierce advocates for educational reform, informed by their experiences teaching in a low-income school. Recently, one TFA Alum, Michelle Rhee, was named Chancellor of the DC Public School System, where she has won national praise for her leadership.

New York City is now hiring almost 10% of its new teachers through the program — says NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein: “Generally, the TFA teachers are much less excuse-bound and more entrepreneurial and creative. I’ve got 1,000 teachers [from TFA] affecting 70,000 or 80,000 kids, and I keep ramping it up.”

Last year, more Brown University graduating seniors — about 40 — entered the Teach for America corps than joined any other single employer. But every one of these brains drained right out of Rhode Island. Why?

In Rhode Island, a failed regulation on Alternative Certification first adopted in 2004 makes it illegal for TFA corps members or other alternatively certified recent college grads to teach in Rhode Island schools. In fact, the Alternative Certification regulation has failed to certify more than a grand total of four (4) teachers since inception! The regulation did little to challenge the monopoly on teacher preparation held by RIC, which certifies more than 80% of new teachers in our state. That monopoly is defended fiercely by forces for the status quo.

That is about to change. The Rhode Island Board of Regents is poised to approve a new Alternative Certification regulation, one that would allow programs like TFA and The New Teachers Project and others to apply to the Rhode Island Department of Education for approval to operate here in Rhode Island. The next step of this regulatory process is a public hearing, which will be held Tuesday night at 5:00 pm in downtown Providence at the Shepard Building — 255 Westminster Street.

Protectors of the status quo will turn out to oppose this. They will claim TFA and similar programs only help for 2 years, or that they are no better than traditional programs. But data suggests otherwise. And really, what’s the harm in keeping 40 of our brightest college graduates right here in Rhode Island where they can make a difference?

Please come to the hearing and voice your support for this important new regulation. I need your support to get this one over the goal line!Those who come to the hearing will be invited to a reception at my home later this year to meet this year’s amazing TFA recruits from Brown University and learn more about this and similar programs (like the MATCH school corps, and The New Teacher Project). With any luck, by then we may be welcoming some of them as new teachers in our own schools, instead of watching them leave our state. Please email me if you can come to the hearing.

To learn more about Teach for America in Rhode Island, click here.

Obama, McKee and Democrats on EducationImageIn case you missed it, Barack Obama recently gave a major speech on Education in Ohio, where he called for:

  • Doubling federal funding for charter schools and touting his record of doubling charter schools in Illinois;
  • Rewarding excellent teachers with “merit pay” or “pay for performance”;
  • Replacing ineffective teachers, even if they are tenured

Doesn’t this sound a bit like a Mayor we know from Cumberland, Rhode Island? That’s right, these are the same tenets of Mayor Dan McKee’s education plans. McKee and I worked together with a broad coalition of community leaders last session to expand Rhode Island’s charter school law. The most controversial elements: those that will allow charter schools to offer “merit pay” and those that will allow charter schools to replace ineffective teachers.

The powerful NEA union decided to make McKee their enemy #1 as a result, vowing to take him out in a primary election and going on record with Education Week that McKee would “Pay at the polls.” They even resorted to juvenile attacks on me personally as someone who had supported McKee’s plan.

But last week in Rhode Island’s primary campaign, McKee beat his primary challenger by an even bigger margin than he did in the last contest he faced with the same opponent, despite all the opposition smears of McKee’s stand on education. The Valley-Breeze summed up McKee’s big win this way:

With money and copywriting help from teacher union political action committees, Iwuc, a retired police sergeant, made the race a referendum on the Mayoral Academy concept McKee has championed for the past two years.

It didn’t work.

The full article is worth a read, as it goes into detail on the tactics that were used to smear McKee’s good record on education.

This will serve as a powerful lesson to those who were intimidated by the NEA for standing with children in pushing for the expansion of charter schools in Rhode Island: the emperor has no clothes. Indeed, the direction of the Democratic party is shifting, as reported in this USA today article that highlights the work of Democrats for Education reform, an organization I have supported:

A funny thing happened to the Democratic Party on the way to an education platform: The party has visibly split with teachers unions, its longtime allies, on key issues.

The ink is barely dry on the official document, which outlines the party’s guiding principles, but it shows that in this fall’s general election, Democrats will stake out a few positions that unions have long opposed.

“We have to understand that as Democrats we have been wrong on education, and it’s time to get it right,” said Newark Mayor Cory Booker. He said unions have pressured him to reject charter schools, vouchers and other ways to broaden urban students’ access to better schools.

“Ten years ago, when I started talking about school choice, I was tarred and feathered,” he told the crowd. “I literally was brought into a room by one of the union officers. … He threatened me that I would never win in office if I kept talking about school choice and kept talking about charter schools.”

Doesn’t Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s story sound a lot like what the NEA tried to do to Cumberland Mayor Dan McKee?

The reason for Democrats for Education Reform, a federal PAC, is to support people like McKee, Booker and Obama, who dare to challenge the status quo within their own party and thus don’t have a NEARI-PACE type of fund to support them. Education reform is no longer a “red or blue” issue. This will be a very interesting development to watch unfold in the coming years.

The big question: would Obama be half the reformer that Booker and McKee have shown themselves to be? Time will tell. 

Learn more about Democrats for Education Reform

NECAP ControversyRecently, the Rhode Island Board of Regents took steps to update Rhode Island’s secondary school regulations. These regulations included new rules around granting high school diplomas designed to make sure the diploma actually means something.

In the final weeks of a multi-year process that led to these regulations, a parent group in Exeter West-Greenwich called the SIT Collaborative organized parents across the state to oppose the new regulations. Their main gripe was with the section of the regulations that addressed the graduation requirement, and specifically the accountability measure that called for the NECAP test to count towards graduation eligibility.

The NECAP is a test of 10th grade skills. It is given in the fall of 11th grade. The cut score for the test as a graduation measure will “Partially proficient” which means below grade level, i.e. 9th grade proficiency. So the concern was that the Regents might require a graduating 12th grader to have demonstrated an ability to read and do math at the 9th grade level. Some were concerned this bar was too high, and we should not prevent a student from graduating 12th grade with a Regents-approved diploma just because his math skills are only at, say, a 7th or 8th grade level.

However, the regulations as approved allow the student to graduate, even in that case. That’s because the NECAP counts only for a portion of a student’s overall graduation eligibility profile.

A student must demonstrate proficiency in six core subjects: math, English, social studies, technology, art and science. There are three ways to demonstrate proficiency: grades, NECAP and a project. But since the NECAP today exists only for 2 of those 6 core areas, the NECAP would count only in those areas, i.e. math and English, and soon, science. There are no plans to have a NECAP test for technology, social studies or art.

So, let’s say your child fails his art project, but has excellent grades in art classes. Your child’s overall proficiency in art might be at risk; it depends on how good those grades are and how bad that project is (it’s up to the district to decide). Let’s say your child fails his math NECAP, scoring at an 8th grade level, but he completes the math component of his senior project satisfactorily and his math grades are passing. Which is a bigger risk to his graduation — the math NECAP or the art project?

Math and art are each one of the six core subjects in which a student must demostrate proficiency to graduate. But in this case, the Math NECAP counts for 33% of the student’s Math proficiency and the art project counts for 50% of the student’s art proficiency. So actually, your art project counts more than your Math NECAP!

Further, the regulations state the NECAP can never be used as the sole means to prevent a student from graduating. The new graduation requirements are a system of “multiple measures” that looks at a combination of grades, work and state assessments.

I thought the most hypocritical part of the entire debate was when the leader of the opposition group accused me and my fellow Regents, who passed the new regulations unanimously, as putting these requirements in place due to a “political agenda” asking us to face up to the fact that what we are doing was “not good for kids.”

She is an elected member of the Exeter-West Greenwich school committee.

The graduation requirements for schools to help all Rhode Island high school kids gain the skills they need to be successful will take effect with the Senior Class graduating in the spring of 2012.

Thanks for listening, and I look forward to keeping in touch. Please feel free to forward this email; if you received this email from a friend and would like to be added to my list, simply drop me a line and I will add you.


Note: Although I serve on the Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education, the views expressed herein are my own, and not those of the full board.

For an archive of posts on RI education reform issues, see the Best for Kids blog, “Passing Notes,” at:

September 17, 2008

Tests start to stand for something – just like the parents

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 10:49 pm

For those of you who took the time to contact the board of regents, you should feel proud.  You were opposed by the established powers of the teacher’s union and allied politicians but it appears that real reform is afoot.  From the ProJo:

Robert G. Flanders Jr. and Peter McWalters: Students need higher standards SHOULD A STUDENT who is unable to read and do basic mathematics graduate from a Rhode Island high school? We don’t think so. Graduating students who cannot even read the words on the diploma perpetuates a fraud that does a great disservice not only to those students but also to the world that they are about to enter. The students have been promised an education, yet they have not received one. The students haven’t failed, but the system has. That’s why the Board of Regents voted unanimously on Sept. 3 to amend the groundbreaking High School Regulations of 2003 to ensure that all high-school students in Rhode Island meet a minimum achievement level in English and mathematics before they can graduate.

Even more important, the amended regulations will ensure that all students receive the support that they need to meet the graduation requirements. The amended regulations, which the board adopted after nearly two years of public hearings and open meetings of the board and its subcommittees, explicitly state that students not on course toward graduation “shall be provided . . . with requisite supports” to lead them toward graduation.

The amendments specify that these supports must begin in the early grades. There should be no students entering the 9th grade without individual learning plans that document the students’ needs, supports, interests and the course requirements that will lead them to graduate.

The Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (RIDE) will be vigilant in making sure that all school districts provide students with these necessary supports.

The amended regulations leave in place key elements of the current diploma system. Students still must complete 20 courses, including four years of English and mathematics and three years of science. Students still must demonstrate proficiency in six core subjects: English, mathematics, science, social studies, technology and the arts. And students still must fulfill the “performance-based” demonstrations of proficiency, such as electronic portfolios and senior projects.

The amended regulations, however, for the first time require that students reach a “minimum achievement level” on the state assessments in English and math. The regents have set that level as “partially proficient” on the New England Common Assessment Program proficiency tests (NECAP) tests, which are given at the outset of grade 11.

Does that mean that teachers will be “teaching to the test”? To a degree, they will — and indeed they should, because the NECAP tests are not off-the-shelf, fill-in-the-blank assessments. Teachers and other educators from the three partner states (Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont) developed the NECAP tests to measure what students need to know so that they can demonstrate their proficiency in each subject. The NECAP tests are anchored in the standards, and they are an excellent tool for instruction and for measurement of student and school-level progress.

Though we have faith in the validity of the NECAP assessments, the regulations say that “state assessments shall not be the sole grounds to prohibit graduation from high school.”

We take that prescription seriously. We know that some students test poorly in general or may perform poorly on any given day. Therefore, when a student who has met the other graduation requirements cannot show proficiency on the state test, the obligation falls back on the district to step in and show that the student is otherwise proficient. The district can do so by using other tests or by presenting other evidence of proficiency.

We also know that there are schools in which many students receive high grades in their courses while scoring low on the state tests. That shows us that these systems are out of alignment. The classes are not covering the material that the students need to know. The students may be succeeding in their classes, but they are the victims of a failing system.

It will take time, but we intend to make sure that all schools and classes are aligned to the state standards and to the state assessments.

We also must be clear that the regents will never allow the NECAP tests to be a barrier to students with disabilities or to English-language learners. Students with disabilities or other learning needs will be given all allowable accommodations when they take the tests, and of course they will be given ample opportunities to demonstrate proficiency through alternate means. But we also will not shortchange these students by holding them to a diminished set of learning expectations.

RIDE will implement the amended rules on a reasonable timeline. Many of the details of implementation will be worked out at the district level, following guidelines and workshops that RIDE will offer.

Each school district must develop a set of graduation requirements — including support to students, support to staff, and communication with families — for approval by the commissioner. Districts have until 2012 to attain this approval.

Similarly, the requirement that students test at “partially proficient” or better in English and mathematics will be put into effect for this year’s freshmen (Class of 2012), who will take the NECAP tests two years from now.

Our goal is not to push students into dropping out of school, but to change the system to meet the needs of all students.

The mission of the Board of Regents is to ensure “that all students achieve at the high levels needed to lead fulfilling and productive lives, to compete in academic and employment settings, and to contribute to society.” We believe that the amended regulations will help us fulfill that worthy goal.


Robert G. Flanders Jr. is chairman of the Rhode Island Board of Regents. Peter McWalters is commissioner of education.

September 9, 2008

Ad Hoc Withdrawal Update

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 1:02 pm

The First Report of the Ad Hoc Withdrawal Update Committee to the Charlestown Town Council can be found by going to this link charlestown-ad-hoc-withdrawal-update

September 5, 2008

Chariho to the public, “mind your own bee’s wax!”

Filed under: contract negotiations,Unions — Editor @ 3:27 pm

FYI – It came out of the Chariho Contract Negotiations Sub Committee (or whatever its called) meeting that the negotiations for the teachers’ contract will NOT be held in public.  They will grant you a public meeting beforehand to express your thoughts.  Although, this seems as a waste of time as they know our thoughts, they just don’t seem to want to do it.  As a reminder, you might want to search old posts and see the contract over at OSPRI to refresh your memory of the average 10.5 percent raise – per year –  given to teachers in their first 10 years of employment. 

The sub committee consists of Holly Eaves, Andy McQuade and Bob Petit.  Maybe one of them would like to explain why they don’t want the public to have a say during the negotiations.  The Union gives the people they represent a word in the process – the Union won’t approve a contract without approval from the membership.  Why won’t our school committee, who spends our money, get our permission before they sign the deal?

Then again, they might not respond at all because they did all this in executive session.  But there are no penalties for divulging sealed information, including information that is questionably sealed in the first place.  So when they say, “I can’t speak about that, the meeting minutes have been sealed,” just ask them why they don’t give you, the public, the same rights they give to the Union membership.  Exactly who do they represent?

McCain on school choice

Filed under: School Choice — Editor @ 10:56 am

I was pleasantly surprised to hear McCain come out so forcefully for school choice.  I knew this would be a campaign item, but thought it would focus on urban settings and fall short of full choice.  I was wrong.

He has pledged to make all schools public schools.  Here is what he said last night:

Education is the civil rights issue of this century. Equal access to public education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing school? We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice, remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of work.

When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them. Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have that choice and their children will have that opportunity.

Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucracies. I want schools to answer to parents and students. And when I’m President, they will.

A little research reveals that I shouldn’t have been surprised as McCain has had these thoughts for years. 

McCain Quotes:

We must fight for the ability of all students to have access to any school of demonstrated excellence. We must place parents and children at the center of the education process, empowering parents by greatly expanding the ability of parents to choose among schools for their children.

Source: Campaign plan: “Bold Solutions for Economic Prosperity” Feb 3, 2008

schools, some have failed, but they’re competing with the public schools, and the level of education is increasing. In New York City today, there are some remarkable things happening under Mayor Bloomberg, who has done marvelous work with an educational system that was clearly broken. Those can be examples of a way to improve education, provide choice and competition, and give every family the same choice I and my family had, and that is to send our child to the school of our choice.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Republican Debate Dec 12, 2007

Q: How can we improve the quality of public schools in this country?

A: Choice and competition is the key to success in education in America. That means charter schools, that means home schooling, it means vouchers, it means rewarding good teachers and finding bad teachers another line of work. It means rewarding good performing schools, and it really means in some cases putting bad performing schools out of business. I want every American parent to have a choice, a choice as to how they want their child educated, and I guarantee you the competition will dramatically increase the level of education in America. And I applaud our former Governor [Jeb] Bush for the great job he’s done on education in Florida and America.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision Dec 9, 2007 Q: How much power should the federal government have over state education? A: Choice & competition are the key to the future of education in America. Students in America rank at the bottom in the most disciplines such as physics & chemistry. We should try charter schools all over America.

Source: GOP Debate in Johnston, Iowa Jan 16, 2000

We have to have choice and competition in our schools in order to improve our school system, including charter schools, including a test voucher program that would be paid for with ethanol subsidies and with sugar subsidies. And in order to make that system work, the test voucher program throughout America, we have to have good teachers, and I would argue that merit pay, rewards for good teachers and helping bad teachers find another line of work is the way we must go about it.

Source: Republican Debate at Dartmouth College Oct 29, 1999

Our children deserve the best education we can provide to them, whether that learning takes place in a public, private or parochial school. It’s time to give middle and lower income parents the same right wealthier families have — to send their child to the school that best meets their needs. It’s time to conduct a nationwide test of school vouchers. It’s time to democratize education.

Source: Candidacy Declaration Speech, Nashua NH Sep 27, 1999

McCain proposed a school voucher program to offer education opportunities for disadvantaged children, paid for by eliminating $5.4 billion worth of subsidies for ethanol, sugar, gas and oil. Under McCain’s three-year test program, disadvantaged children would receive vouchers worth $2,000 a year. The money would be used to offset the costs of attending any school chosen by the student or parents. “We shouldn’t have special interest giveaways at the expense of our neediest children,” McCain said.

Source: Mike Glover, Associated Press Jul 29, 1999

McCain’s platform calls for a school voucher program that would give tax money to middle- and lower-low low income families to send their children to private schools. And he praised charter schools – publicly funded schools that often serve a specialized curriculum and operate free from many government mandates.


Source: Associated Press Jun 14, 1999

McCain knows we can save public education if we “have the courage to do more than placate the defenders of the status quo.” McCain [supports] more money reaching our classrooms, increased financial flexibility for parents, greater choices for families, and well-trained teachers. He [opposes] Washington bureaucrats and public education unions dictating education policies. He believes in letting parents, educators, and local communities make the important decisions about our children’s education.

Source: “Position Papers” 5/24/99 May 24, 1999  McCain believes school vouchers should be available to parents in order that they may place their children in the best learning environment for their particular needs. He feels that each and every child in every classroom deserves a teacher who is qualified and enthusiastic about teaching. “Some people just aren’t meant to be teachers, and we should help them find another line of work. Because if teachers can’t teach, our kids can’t learn.”

Source: “Position Papers” 5/24/99 May 24, 1999

    McCain supports the following principles concerning school choice:

  • Allow parents to use vouchers to send their children to any participating school: public, private or religious
  • Allow parents to use tax-free savings accounts to send their children to any participating school: public, private or religious
  • Support creation of more charter schools where teachers and professionals receive authorization and funding to establish new schools

Source: Project Vote Smart, 1998, Jul 2, 1998