RI Already an Example of Parental Choice of Schools

... unlike 1-size-fits-all government-run schools

… unlike 1-size-fits-all government-run schools

Rhode Island parents want school choice!

They prove it answering polls, and they prove it in their behavior.

  • Strong majorities — of 56% and higher — favor policies that allow parents to choose schools other than regular public district schools.
  • When asked what type of schools they would pick if they had a choice, 68% named something other than a district school.
  • Among states in which a majority of students take the SATs, RI was second in the number of SAT-taking students in private schools, and first in the number attending religiously affiliated schools, which tend to be less expensive.
  • Looking at SAT scores, RI public school students perform worse than the average for high-participation states, while private school students perform as well as or slightly higher than the average for such schools, which is significantly higher than the average for public schools.

Read the full “Parents’ Choosing Without School Choice” study, here.

See associated media release below … 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 29, 2015
Report: In Practice and in Surveys, Rhode Islanders Want More Educational Choices
Center to Participate in Today’s State House Celebration of National School Choice Week 

Providence, RI — Rhode Islanders lead the nation when it comes to demanding and exercising educational choice … and they want even more. This according to a new report released today by the nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, entitled Parents Choosing w/out School Choice, which bolsters the case that expanded school choice options are necessary in the Ocean State, the primary objective of the recently launched Bright Today Educational Choice coalition.

“Even with some of the highest property tax burdens in the nation, many families are sacrificing thousands of additional dollars so that their children can escape the government-run school system,”said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “And our report demonstrates that parents want even more options.”
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Highlighting existing trends about parental choice, and as part of its celebration of National School Choice Week, the Center’s new study cites recent polls and national private school enrollment figures as strong evidence of the skepticism that most Rhode Islander have for the state’s public school system.
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In practice, Rhode Island ranks second overall when it comes to states with high participation rates of SAT-taking students that choose not to attend a public school, while ranking firstby a large margin when it comes to attending religiously affiliated private schools, among this same group of states.
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In surveys, according to a 2013 poll, Rhode Islanders lead the nation in wanting to send their children to private schools. In that same poll, 68% said their first choice for their children would be an education other than traditional public schools.

“School Choice Rabbi” to Speak at State House Event

MEDIA ADVISORY
January 28, 2015
Legislative Reception to Feature Speech by Nationally Renowned Educational Choice Rabbi
State House to be Illuminated in Yellow
Center to Man Exhibit Table and Release New Report
Providence, RI — Rhode Island Families for School Choice, a member of the recently launched  “Bright Today Educational Choice” coalition, will host its annual Legislative Reception at the statehouse tomorrow afternoon, featuring a rally-speech to attendees by the nationally renowned “school choice rabbi,” Rabbi A. D. Motzen from Cincinnati, as well as musical performances by area private school students.The event, which is part of the celebration of National School Choice Week, expects over 300 people to attend and will conclude with the state house being illuminated in yellow light, the signature color of the celebration. Also participating will be a representative from theFriedman Foundation for Educational Choice, and multiple private school groups.Legislators and the pubic are encouraged to attend to learn more about how expanded educational options can empower parents to be able to choose the best educational path for their children. The coalition expects to announce bi-partisan sponsored legislation in the coming weeks.

The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity will man an exhibit table at the event, with “Myths vs Reality” of school choice handouts available. The Center will also publish a new report Thursday morning that documents how Rhode Island families, at nationally leading rates, are already sacrificing income so that their children can escape sub-standard government-run schools and, instead, choose alternative private educational paths … and that such demand exceeds supply.

All participants will be available for media interviews at the event, or can be scheduled by contacting the Center.

WHAT:    Legislative Reception to Celebrate National School Choice Week

WHEN:    Thursday, January 29, 2015, 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm

WHERE: RI Statehouse Rotunda

WHO:      Rabbi A.D. Motzen; SPEECH at 3:30 pm

                   Michael Chartier, Friedman Foundation

The Center’s educational choice home page can be viewed at RIFreedom.org/EdChoiceRI.

National School Choice Week (January 25 – 31, 2015) will be America’s largest-ever celebration of opportunity in education. Featuring more than 11,000 independently-organized events across all 50 states, the Week shines a positive spotlight on effective education options for children. National School Choice Week is independent, nonpolitical, and nonpartisan, and embraces all types of educational choice – from traditional public schools to public charter schools, magnet schools, online learning, private schools, and homeschooling.

About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise think tank. The mission of the 501c3 nonprofit organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.

Legislative Antidotes to RhodeMapRI

PROPERTY RIGHTS and MUNICIPAL SOVEREIGNTY ACT of 2015

The concepts of private property ownership and associated rights are considered core components of America’s free-enterprise system. It is also widely held that local government is the best government, as opposed to a one-size-fits all centralized planning approach. Preservation of each of these principles is vital to maintaining a thriving democracy in Rhode Island.

In recent weeks in the Rhode Island General Assembly there have been a number of bi-partisan legislative introductions and announcements in response to the passage of the controversial RhodeMapRI plan into the state’s official Guide Plan. While these legislative maneuvers would seek to free localities from being required to comply with provisions of RhodeMap RI, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity recommends additional legislative fixes should also be considered to minimize the grave risks that RhodeMap RI poses to property owners and the sovereignty of local governments.

As an antidote to some of those risks, the Property Rights and Municipal Sovereignty Act of 2015 should include:

Financial Transparency: Require the RI Division of Planning and its RhodeMapRI consortium, to provide a complete, up to date listing of all revenue and expense transactions on its web site, by listing full details of every transaction, by date, by source, and by vendor, for all activities related to the development or implementation of the RhodeMap RI plan. As of January 2015, only partial financial records have been released. Such practices would bring the Division of Planning into keeping with the transparency practices in other executive-branch departments.

Protection from Eminent Domain: The RI Home and Business Protection Act of 2008 [RIGL 42-64.12] ostensibly was passed into law to limit potential eminent domain abuse in the Ocean State following the landmark Kelo v. City of New London U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Instead, the law appears to actually open the door for aggressive eminent domain utilization by city planners when there is a local economic development in place, such as the “growth centers” envisioned by the RhodeMap RI plan.

This Act should be amended as follows:

  • Rephrase the section discussing “plans” [42-64.12-7A] to eliminate any RhodeMap RI inspired growth center or other plan, and any state-inspired plan, not created and developed exclusively by the duly elected local officials of that town or created with the explicit intention that it would fulfill the plan requirement for eminent domain seizures.
  • Bar any and all potential eminent domain action that would transfer property from one private party to any other another private party. Eminent domain should be limited in practice, and should only be considered for public use, never to enrich any private party at the expense of another private party, even it could be argued that greater tax receipts could be garnered from the receiving private party.
  • Bar any “transfer of development rights” transactions that are not 100% voluntary between the two parties, or that may have resulted from any form of government coercion, regulation, or mandate, or as a result from any plan not exclusively developed by the municipality.

Constitutional Amendment to Preserve and Government Sovereignty: The amendment would bar any state or local funding and invalidate any law that would support the establishment of or the participation in any regional or statewide authority, such as the Urban Redevelopment Authority contemplated in the RhodeMap RI plan, that would have any power to implement law, to supersede local authority, to bring or encourage lawsuits, or to implement any official state or local planning provision, without the requirement to present its recommendations for a public vote to a duly elected body of state or local representatives.

Real Economic Development Planning: Rhode Island could benefit from a well-researched, comprehensive economic development plan that would lead to economic growth, without infringing on individual rights or local government sovereignty.

The 2013 law, enacted by H6069 and S0712 [RIGL 423-64.17-1], should be amended as follows:

  • Set specific economic goals to improve the state’s overall business and economic climate
  • Establish an independent Blue Ribbon Commission, appointed by the governor, composed solely of economic experts and business leaders, that would develop a plan to meet those objectives.
    • Bar the participation of any government employee, special interest group or individual from any organization that receives any public funding from serving on the Commission
    • The plan must be presented to the General Assembly for regular committee hearings, and must be approved by a vote of the entire General Assembly.
    • The Commission should be completely state funded, and must not be pre-required to adhere to any principles of any state or federal agency or any other organization.
    • The Commission must not be permitted to construe its scope so broadly that it is permitted to rewrite the policies of any state agency or locality or any other organization acting within its own range of authority.
    • Eliminate the requirement for the commission to adhere to prior economic development or any other statewide plan; however the Commission may choose to take these plans into consideration, at its sole discretion.

Defund Grow Smart RI: The state should not provide public funding to any advocacy group that advances a special interest agenda that in any way could be viewed as working against the best interests or individual rights of state or local taxpayers, such as Grow Smart RI, which received over $350,000 from Rhode Island taxpayers in the past five years.

Repeal the Benefit Corporation Law of 2013: The state should not specifically classify or reward businesses that adhere to any special interest agenda by creating a two-tiered tax system or by exempting such businesses from traditional stakeholder accountability.

Amend the statewide Affordable Housing Mandate [42-128-8.1(d)(1)]: Specify that the existing 10% affordable housing mandate that is currently required to be included in the comprehensive plans of each city and town must only consider affordable housing at a municipal-wide level, and never at a census block, neighborhood, or any otherwise defined sub-level, and must never include any other kind of demographic quota or threshold requirement.

  • Cities and towns should be barred from accepting federal grant funds, or any funds, that may require municipalities to adhere to affordable housing quota mandates at anything less than a municipal-wide level.
  • Municipal comprehensive plans, at the municipality’s sole discretion, should have self-authority to determine where future affordable housing units should be developed.
  • Cities and towns should be allowed to consider inclusion all forms of affordable housing in their calculations, regardless of their style, location, or funding sources, as solely determined by locally elected officials (ie, mobile homes and trailer parks). Homes that are affordable should be classified as ‘affordable housing’, without additional specifications.

Center Launches New Interactive Tool to Compare RI to Other States on National Test Scores

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2015
New Interactive Tool Compares RI to Other States on National Test Scores
Allows comparison of student performance among various demographic groups!
Center also publishes key findings analysis using the tool

Providence, RI — As part of the recently launched  “Bright Today Educational Choice” campaign, the nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity announced today that it has published a new, online tool that allows parents and educators to self-analyze the performance of Ocean State students as compared with other states.
The interactive tool aggregates scores from 2000 to 2013 from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests, often referred to as the ‘nation’s report card’, which compiles student performance data for math and reading in all states. Various demographic student groups such as 4th/8th grade, reading/math, male/female, black/hispanic/white, low-income, and disabled can be filtered and compared to similar groups in other states

Using the tool, the Center also published a brief analysis with multiple comparisons that further demonstrate the need for families to have more choices when it comes to educating their children. Key findings show that for Rhode Island students:

  • Previous performance improvements have flat-lined in recent years
  • Overall performance is worst among all New England states
  • Hispanic performance is last among New England states
  • Low income student performance is also last in this region
  • As compared with five states that have been among the most pro-active when it comes to educational reform, RI students either lost ground or didn’t gain ground in EVERY demographic group

Last week, the nonprofit Center published The Case for Expanded Educational Choice, putting forth arguments why the time is now to empower parents with more educational options.

The main tenets of the “Bright Today Educational Choice” campaign, are that no child should be condemned to attend a failing school; that every family should feel confident that their children can dream of a bright future; that no child should have to wait for tomorrow’s reform promises; and that every child deserves an education of their family’s choice – today.  A dedicated campaign website can be viewed at www.BrightToday.org.

The Center is part of a growing coalition, currently comprised of the nationally renowned Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, as well as number of in-state advocacy groups.

The Bright Today coalition will announce specific policy solutions in the coming weeks and expects to have bi-partisan legislative support in the Rhode Island General Assembly for a package of related bills. Further, one coalition member, RI Families for School Choice, will host its annual school choice Legislative Reception at the Statehouse on the afternoon of January 29, as part of the National School Choice Week celebration.

The Center expects to release a number of education studies in the coming months, including a study on Rhode Islanders’ already high propensity to choose private schools; a demographic study on long-term spending pressures; and a financial modeling tool that will estimate the revenue effect of specific school choice policies.

Parents or individuals wishing to stay informed about or become involved with the campaign, should register at the RI Families or School Choice website,  EdChoiceRI.org. The Center has also set up an educational choice home page on its website that can be viewed at RIFreedom.org/EdChoiceRI.

Education Analysis: RI and National Test Score Trends, Steam Runs Out on Reform

Judging by trends visible using the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s online, interactive tool to compare scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests, Rhode Island’s period of education reform produced some improvements, but they appear to have hit a political ceiling.

Key findings show that for Rhode Island students:

  • Previous performance improvements from earlier in the 2000s have flat-lined in recent years
  • Overall performance is worst among all New England states
  • Hispanic performance is last among New England states
  • Low income student performance is also last in this region
  • As a group, states with relatively strong school choice options improved in 2013 among every demographic group, whereas Rhode Island either lost ground or didn’t gain any.

Click here to read the more details about the findings.

BrightToday Campaign Launch – Media Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 12, 2015
Diverse Coalition Launches School Choice Campaign
Center Publishes “The Case for Educational Choice”
Only 29% would choose a government-run school
Providence, RI — With few options available for families of an unacceptably high number of public school students who are failed by a sub-standard public educational system in Rhode Island, a diverse coalition of school reform advocates launched today a long-term educational choice public policy campaign. The nonpartisan Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, for its part, published The Case for Expanded Educational Choice, a paper that includes national research and the collective perspective of the coalition partners.

The main tenets of the coalition initiative, named the “Bright Today Educational Choice” campaign, are that no child should be condemned to attend a failing school; that every family should feel confident that their children can dream of a bright future; that no child should have to wait for tomorrow’s reform promises; and that every child deserves an education of their family’s choice – today.

A dedicated campaign website can be viewed at www.BrightToday.org.

According to the paper, with the supply of existing school choice programs in the Ocean State not adequately meeting high parental demand for choice; and with public opinion recognizing the shortcomings of the government-run school system, the coalition suggests the time is now for Rhode Island to empower parents with new options to choose a proper educational path for their children. In a 2013 poll, only 29% of Rhode Islanders indicated they would select a regular public school as their first choice.

The Center joins a growing coalition, currently comprised of the nationally renownedFriedman Foundation for Educational Choice, as well as number of local groups, including Rhode Island Families for School Choice, FACE of Rhode Island, theRoosevelt Society, the Gaspee Project, RI Catholic Schools Parents Federation, and the Providence Hebrew Day School. The size and breadth of the coalition is expected to rapidly increase in the coming months. The Center also announced that Gertrude Jones andLuis Vargas will serve as community outreach advisers for the Bright Today campaign.

Gertrude Jones

Jones, a diversity advocate and former Lifespan executive and President of the Providence School Board, said “take the time to review the definition of insanity, and then ask yourself why we keep educating our children with the same system while expecting different results. Educational choice creates real freedom for families and can give Rhode Island’s children a fighting chance at lifelong success.”.

The Bright Today coalition will announce specific policy solutions in the coming weeks and expects to have bi-partisan legislative support in the Rhode Island General Assembly for a package of related bills. Further, RI Families for School Choice will host its annual school choice Legislative Reception at the Statehouse on the afternoon of January 29, as part of the National School Choice Week celebration.

“At the end of the day, we have to realize that we have failed to provide our children with an education that will translate to real-world success. It is time for us to empower parents and then, as so many other states have seen, watch as our children thrive in an educational environment that matches their unique learning needs,” commented Vargas, a 2014 candidate for General Assembly in South Providence and successful product of school choice himself.

The Center expects to release a number of education studies and transparency tools in the coming months, including a study on Rhode Islanders’ already high propensity to choose private schools; a demographic study on long-term spending pressures; an interactive tool to compare performance of RI K-12 students with other states; and a financial modeling tool that will estimate the revenue effect of specific school choice policies.

Parents or individuals wishing to stay informed about or become involved with the campaign, should register at the RI Families or School Choice website,  EdChoiceRI.org. The Center has also set up an educational choice home page on its website that can be viewed atRIFreedom.org/EdChoiceRI.

Media Contact:
Mike Stenhouse, CEO
401.429.6115 | info@rifreedom.org
About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise think tank. The mission of the 501c3 nonprofit organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.

Why More Educational Choice Options are Needed in Rhode Island

The government school system is failing for to many Ocean State students. Every family should have hope that their child can hope for a bright educational future – TODAY!

[button url=”http://rifreedom.org/?p=13304″ target=”_blank” size=”medium”] Read the narrative here [/button]

The Case for Expanded Educational Choice in Rhode Island

Return to Ed Choice homepage here | Go to BrightToday.org website

The Rhode Island public school system is failing far too many students and families. Collectively, our schools yield one of the lowest values in New England and the nation when it comes to educational performance as compared with per pupil spending. The public recognizes this major problem for our state.

Bright Today FinalWhile some long-term reforms are underway, there remain tens of thousands of Ocean State families who do not have access to near-term solutions for their children and who do not have the luxury of waiting for promises about tomorrow’s reforms. The limited, current options available to parents in Rhode Island do not satisfy their demands for a quality education — today.

Our precious educational dollars can be more effectively utilized by empowering parents with the freedom to choose the best educational paths that will help their children learn and grow, while also brightening Rhode Island’s future. This is what the BRIGHT TODAY EDUCATIONAL CHOICE CAMPAIGN is all about.

Read the full policy brief.