New Report Cautions Lawmakers; Reversing Education Reform Harms RI Student Achievement, Especially the Disadvantaged

January 27, 2016

National Test Scores for RI Students Decreased Following Chafee Halt to Education Reform

Disadvantaged Students Suffered Most

Lawmakers cautioned not to make same mistake with charter schools and Educational Scholarship Accounts

Providence, RI — It’s National School Choice Week across America, yet in Rhode Island, parents may see their choices rolled-back in 2016, potentially harming student achievement, as has already occurred in recent years, according to a new report today by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. 

The report which documents how Rhode Island student test scores on the national NAEP test, often referred to as the nation’s reports card, directly correlate to the roll-back of educational reforms imposed in 2011 on former RI Department of Education commissioner, Debra Gist, by then Governor Lincoln Chafee. Minority and disadvantaged students appear to have suffered the harshest consequences.

“It’s highly disturbing that the steady advancements in education under Governor Carcieri were abruptly halted by Governor Chafee, and that test scores immediately declined,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Lawmakers should not make this same mistake by rolling-back successful charter school reforms, when in fact they should be expanding reforms by implementing ESA educational scholarships.”

The Center will join dozens of exhibitors and hundreds of students this Thursday, from 2 to 5 p.m. inside the State House for the annual school choice celebration organized by Rhode Island Families for School Choice and its coalition partners. Kevin Chavous, founder of the American Federation for Children will be the keynote speaker at the rally, one of over 16,000 events nationwide this week.

The coalition will also celebrate the second of  year of legislation that calls for Bright Today Educational Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) for all RI families not satisfied with their zip code assigned government-run school.

Currently in the Ocean State, school choice exists along two avenues; charter schools,which are under heavy legislative attack by unions and status quo bureaucrats, and corporate tax credit scholarships, which are capped at a low amount. The Center proposes opening a third public policy avenue, Educational Savings Accounts, or scholarships that empower families to craft the best educational path for their children.
The Center believes that all forms of educational choice should be implemented and expanded in order to ensure that every child has an opportunity for a bright education – today.

The Center’s home page for school choice is:

Media Contact:

Mike Stenhouse, CEO
401.429.6115 |

About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise research and advocacy organization. The nonprofit Center is funded entirely by private tax-deductible donations and never accepts public funding. The mission of the 501-C-3 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.