The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity announced today that it has partnered with the RI Coalition for Israel (RICI) to encourage members of the public to register for a compelling online event this coming Sunday.

PRESS RELEASE: Center Sponsors Online Forum on Hamas’ Oct 7th Sexual Violence

April 7 Forum to Expose Truth of October 7 Sexual Violence
Public Invited to Register for Online Event this Sunday

Cranston, RI – The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity announced today that it has partnered with the RI Coalition for Israel (RICI) to encourage members of the public to register for a compelling online event this coming Sunday.

Entitled “The Reality of Sexual Violence in War”, the April 7, 2:00 PM EST Zoom-based event will feature as keynote speakers two internationally prominent Jewish women – Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Susan Seely – who will discuss and display images of some of the carnage and aftermath of the brutal attacks by Hamas on the people of Israel last October 7. Local organizations that work with women will also present during the 90-minute forum.

According to RICI, there is a public need to raise awareness about Hamas’ use of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war, in direct violation of the international rules of war. This 6-month remembrance event, presented by RICI and the RI Chapter of Hadassah, is designed to erase doubts that Hamas utilized sexual and gender-base violence as a weapon of war and intimidation … a documented fact that has often been dismissed as Israeli propaganda by enemies of Israel.

As the event’s promotional co-sponsor, the Center conducted an in-depth interview with two leaders of RICI on its popular podcast, In The Dugout with Mike Stenhouse, and is raising awareness via its media, email, and social media apparatus.

“Given the many anti-Semitic and pro-Palestinian protests across the country and here in Rhode Island, it is important that the public understand the abject brutality that occurred on October 7,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Hopefully, such knowledge will bring more balance to the debate about Israel’s need to eliminate Hamas in Gaza vs. calls for a cease-fire.”

Sunday’s web-based event is open to and free for all to attend, with registration options below:

Visit RICI’s Facebook page and follow the links

The Left’s Assault on RI Families

Rhode Island’s ruling class is working against the interests of families by adopting extremist ideologies

Has our own government become the enemy of Ocean State families?

Corrupt insiders win … families lose!

It’s time to restore traditional family values – “love of country” and “trust in God” 


Rhode Island families are disillusioned … and under assault from their own government:

  • Economicallyinflation & high taxes are robbing family budgets
  • Educationallypoliticized curricula are failing our children
  • Culturally – controversial & divisive theories are turning our society upside down
  • Religiouslyintolerance for God, Christians, and Jews is fueling hate and restricting religious freedom
  • Emotionallythe bombardment of age-inappropriate content is leading to mental health issues among our youth
  • Physicallycrime, drugs, woke transgender policies, and the erosion of self-defense rights put family members at risk of  bodily harm
  • Patrioticallyanimosity towards America and her founding fathers, as pushed by the Left, is creating enemies within

The preservation and advancement of the well-being of families and children should be the foremost goal of our society and government. Every resident of Rhode Island aspires to live in a peaceful and prosperous society, and every family wishes for a bright future for their children.

Yet, here in our state, families are being ripped apart by a radical agenda that undermines traditional family values and seeks to transition children into political pawns.

Centuries of empirical evidence and common sense have shown that a stable and nurturing family environment is the best path to a productive future. The “success sequence”, supported by extensive research, is that path, which consists of three main pillars: 1) completing a quality education and earning at least a high school diploma; 2) securing full-time employment; and 3) marrying before having children. Following these steps alone can provide young adults with more than a 97% chance of avoiding poverty.

However, virtually all significant societal and economic issues we encounter today can be attributed to the breakdown of the traditional family structure and its security, which in turn leads to the collapse of faith.

Alarmingly, between 2018 and 2022, 32 percent of RI infants were born to a mother with less than a high school diploma, while 34 percent of fathers had less than a high school diploma. These troubling trends can be largely attributed to destructive public policies in our state that erode one or more of these pillars, encroach upon our freedoms, and impose more politicized government control over our lives. For instance, as we describe below, many of our state’s public assistance programs actually create a “marriage penalty” for couples who want to tie the knot.

Unfairly, for those of you who do study, obtain a good job, and get married … all too often your hard-earned tax dollars are redistributed to others who weren’t responsible enough to follow this path!

These misguided policies often stem from corruption, where government bureaucrats prioritize serving insider special interest groups and agendas – especially when under public pressure from progressive activists, the media, and academia – which inevitably results in negative consequences for families and taxpayers.

The Washington Bridge debacle exemplifies the potential consequences of a state government’s corrupt dealings with one special interest group – public and private sector unions – resulting in significant incompetence and waste as well as danger for all of us. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation was aware of the bridge’s structural issues since 2012, but for over a decade, they concealed the report and failed to take action to protect the safety of motorists. Rather than spending $8 million on repairs at that time, unionized construction firms now stand to gain as much as $300 million of taxpayer money to reconstruct the entire bridge. This raises the question we must often ask: who wins and who loses?

Low-income families, with under-educated children, have been voting for liberal-left candidates for decades … and they’re still poor, with un-educated kids!

Corrupt Identity Politics. In a disturbingly large number of instances, important public policy issues are decided upon based on false narratives manufactured and advanced by self-serving special-interest groups … often inventing new categories of victims who ostensibly suffer from some contrived or  fake injustice. These “identity politics” narratives are then perpetrated by the compliant local media, academia, and liberal advocacy groups … then, finally, legislative and executive actions are enacted to address these pretend “social inequities”, resulting in benefits for the special interest few at the expense of the well-being of the many Ocean State families.

The public has lost complete faith in our government, which increasingly is ruled by politicians who are beholden to these obviously false narratives … and voters will put their support behind candidates who offer a change … a realistic, taxpayer-centric approach.

The gross corruption of governmental officials – beholden to these false narratives and the extremists who support them; elected and and appointed officials who oversee policies in the economy, education, housing, and the environment as well as of compliant judges in the courts – is robbing our children of their rightful opportunity for a bright and prosperous future in our Ocean State … all so that crony insiders will benefit instead.

Who wins and who loses?

In short, RI public policy has become an “assault” on Ocean State families … in favor of selfish and corrupt insider cronies and their false narratives.

The Left’s War on Women

In Washington, DC, the Biden Administration’s 2024 reckless reforms to Title IX, which will put the safety of boys and girls at risk, seeks to reshape and dismantle the role of families in the raising and education of their children, by inventing and mandating a new set of rights for gender-denying students, which have no constitutional basis.

In response, Americans are revolting and many state superintendents across America have issued directives NOT TO COMPLY with these dangerous new woke rules.

Back here in Rhode Island, and as detailed throughout this post, families are under further assault from our own state government and the progressive Left, beginning with RI’s Education Commissioner, Angelica Infante-Green, who refuses to change RIDE’s anti-family guidance on school transgender policies.

The critical question is whether or not state lawmakers will “wake up” to the harsh realities of the consequences of the Left’s misguided policies.

While not everyone can be raised in a stable family environment, and while we have a responsibility to support citizens in our state who may be in real need, elected officials should continually strive to adopt public polices that reward marriage, promote a thriving economy with a low cost of living and free-market business climate, and provide a meaningful public educational system that respects parental rights.

The Proof – The Great Ocean State Exodus

No other metric best illustrates the oppressive nature of RI’s failed public polices than the well-documented pattern of graduates, retirees, middle- and upper-income families, and high-net-worth individuals fleeing our state … reducing our state’s tax base and limiting the amount of capital available to invest in starting or expanding a business, or to donate to charitable organizations.

These productive citizens are being replaced, in large part, by undocumented immigrants who often rely on public assistance – tax dollar eaters instead of tax dollar producers.

Our Ocean State’s population has stagnated in recent decades and has not kept pace with population growth in other states. As such, most experts agree that Rhode Island will lose one of its two prized House of Representative seats in the US Congress after the 2030 Census.

Here’s how our own government has become the enemy of RI families:


On the economic front, family budgets are stressed to the breaking point. Because of oppressive regulations, not only is our state one of the worst states in which to start a business and create jobs, but Rhode Island suffers from one of the highest costs of living in America due to high taxes and inflation-causing regulatory and spending policies that reduce supplies and raise demand. Our Ocean State is also one of the most expensive states for seniors to retire.

The average 2-parent Rhode Island family will pay over $1,369,000 in taxes throughout their lifetime … over 30% higher than the US average!

Also, family savings have completely reversed (-72% drop) under the Biden’s control over the national economy as compared with Trump’s (+129% rise).

The “tax the rich” and spend mentality of the progressive-left actually makes worse the problem of wealth inequality by robbing low income families of opportunities for upward mobility; instead of encouraging them to become dependent on government assistance.

When income or wealth is over-taxed at the individual or corporate level, there is less incentive to invest cash (capital) to hire and pay workers or to start or expand a businesses, while at the same time driving high-income investors out of Rhode Island and to other, less oppressive, states.

These kind of natural and human reactions are why increased taxation often leads to decreased revenues to the government.

Such counter-productive policies that borrow opportunity from future generations, in order to satisfy the demands of corrupt insiders, inevitably lead to many negative and unintended economic consequences for families:

  • Soaring “Local” Inflation (High Cost Of Living) means families are losing thousands of dollars of purchasing power each year, as prices on many staples continue to rise. Groceries cost too much. Clothing costs too much. Housing costs too much. Electricity costs too much.
    • On top of the national inflation problem, Ocean State politicians have made local inflation even worse. RI politicians have continually and mindlessly collected billions of of dollars in federal aid and hundreds of millions in wasteful spending bonds … most of which end up in the pockets of insider cronies and special interest groups.
    • It’s a basic “supply and demand” situation: Combined with over-regulation (which limits output, or supply), these unchecked levels of federal & bond funds and indiscriminate state spending (which increases consumer spending power, or demand) are a direct and major cause why local prices have risen so significantly. 
    • For too many families, rises in family incomes are not keeping pace with rises in the local cost of living. “Shrinkflation”, where consumers get LESS product for the same spend, is also a direct cause of government over-spending.
  • “Real” wages for families (income as compared with inflation) have fallen by 2.54% under the progressive policies of progressives in the White House
  • High housing costs in RI are significantly higher than the national average, while misguided over-regulation by government has reduced the number of units to rent and homes to buy. Housing prices have exploded past the level of affordability for an increasing number of Rhode Islanders, with lack of availability even a bigger concern. Never-ending government regulation in the housing industry has reduced the number of available units, while increasing costs on builders, sellers, and landlords … all of which are passed onto buyers and renters.
    • Property Taxes are among the highest in America, largely due to overly-generous collective bargaining agreements with unionized public employees
    • Most new and available public housing units are being developed for the benefit of illegal immigrants and NOT for hard-working Ocean State families.
    • SOLUTION: Allow natural market forces to determine what gets built, free from onerous regulation. Repeal 2014 “RhodeMapRI” regulations that mandate social-engineering and urban-planning policies (such as “sustainable development” and “smart growth”) that artificially increase the cost of building and restrict the supply of home and rental units. End free housing policies for illegal immigrants.
  • Ever increasing cost of utilities and exploding energy prices, while simultaneously decreasing energy choices, when it comes to heating our homes and driving our vehicles. Our government’s foolish race to be the first net-zero-emissions state … will actually result in zero world-wide benefit … but will impose massive energy costs upon families, while limiting our freedom of choice. Who wins and who loses?
    • In recent years, RI lawmakers enacted green energy mandates for power suppliers and voluntary entered our state into a regional cap-and-trade market … each of which artificially drives up the cost of electricity, hoping many families will use less
      • The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a regional compact between participating states, whose goal is to artificially raise electricity prices
    • By next decade, Rhode Island motorists will be banned from buying lower-cost gas powered cars, and will be forced to buy significantly higher-priced and less-reliable Electric Vehicles … because state lawmakers mandated that RI must follow California’s (CARB) oppressive vehicle emissions standards
    • The “Act On Climate”, passed by RI lawmakers in 2021, supports our state’s  unachievable path to eliminate carbon emissions … a path that will lead to increased utility and energy prices even more rapidly than we have seen in recent decades.
      • SOLUTIONS: Accept the reality of the limitations of green energy. Repeal the Act of Climate and end RI’s voluntary membership in RGGI and CARB
  • Fewer good paying jobs will be available for many Rhode Islanders as they are increasingly going to illegal immigrants welcomed into our state by Rhode Island’s and Providence’s “sanctuary state” and “sanctuary city” policies.
    • Small businesses, the main source of jobs in our state, are being crowded out by high local inflation and oppressive regulations imposed by progressive lawmakers that make it costly to produce goods or provide services
    • Also, RI’s high and ever-increasing minimum wage mandates, means employers will hire fewer workers and will cut back on the hours of part-time or hourly workers.
    • SOLUTION: Reform RI’s minimum wage laws to match the federal minimum wage minimums. This will increase job availability and allow good-performing workers to quickly earn higher wages from employers who will want to keep them.
  • Reductions in Public Assistance for low-middle income families are at threat because of the Left’s misguided polices. First, the influx of illegal immigrants means more public funds are being diverted away from long-time Rhode Island resident families. Second, our high tax and cost-of-living environment means thousands of people are leaving our state every year, which will lead to a loss of one of our two prized House of Representative seats in the US Congress … resulting in lower levels of federal aid for Rhode Island. Who wins and who loses?


Most disturbing of all, is that the Left and our government is now focusing its assault on families with a targeted war on our children.

The RI Department of Education is a failed institution. RIDE is not preparing our children for a prosperous future and for life informed citizens … and they are doing so on purpose!

Ocean State families are fed up and have lost trust in a failing government-run public school system that is increasingly controlled by corrupt teacher unions and radical left ideologues. Many families are seeking to escape the system and are desperate in seeking alternative options.

Both major teacher unions in RI have persistently stood in the way of significant educational reform by threatening to use their massive political war chest to oust lawmakers who do not support the agenda of union bosses. In recent years, both the AFT and the NEA rejected calls to focus more on objective subjects like math, science, and English … and instead make the politically subjective issue of “social justice” a priority in K-12 schools. Who wins and who loses?

Teacher unions, with their long-time special-interest and insider crony status, have more recently devolved into just another radical-left activist group that use alleged concern for students to attain power and influence. The reality, however, is while they care about teachers, they harm students far more than they help them. 

One example is teachers unions’ opposition to school choice. Those who actually care about students support the right of parents to choose their children’s schools—just as many teachers do when they send their own children to schools of their choice.

A second example is teachers unions’ making it nearly impossible to fire incompetent teachers.

A third example was teachers unions’ demands that schools lock down for nearly two years during the COVID-19 era. The unions did so despite there being no scientific evidence in support of school lockdowns and despite ample warnings that many children would suffer intellectually, scholastically, emotionally, and psychologically.

Moreover, wrote John H. Cochrane of the Hoover Institution in The Wall Street Journal, “When schools went remote, parents found out what was actually going on inside the classrooms. Teachers were coaching students to hate themselves, their country and their religious traditions, and sexualizing young children.”

The last point brings us to a fourth example: Teachers rob young students of their sexual innocence with premature talk of, and books that deal with, overt sexual activity, and the infamous use of drag queens to perform in front of children as young as 6 years old.

Just how left-wing teachers organizations are was made clear by the sympathetic left-wing magazine The Nation in January:

A rank-and-file campaign inside the National Education Association is demanding the president stop ‘sending military funding, equipment, and intelligence to Israel.’ … But the rank-and-file campaign goes beyond [that]. … Members want the [National Education Association] to revoke its endorsement of Joe Biden for the 2024 presidential race until the president … stops ‘sending military funding, equipment, and intelligence to Israel.’

That was only two months after Oct. 7.

Save our kids from the woke Left

Sadly, many believe that we must save our kids from RIDE – the RI Department of Education. In fact a petition drive calling for the resignation of commissioner Angelic Infante-Green has garnered hundreds of signatures and scathing comments.

The lack of educational achievement among students, combined with the cultural attack on children and parents … is even more troubling.

In 2019 the RI General Assembly granted RIDE with the authority to develop statewide curricula standards for core subjects … however, since then, under the direction of Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green, RIDE has proven to be wholly irresponsible and unworthy of such authority.

Instead of pursuing a traditional “content-based” curricula strategy, an objective method of teaching factual material, RIDE has adopted a more subjective and controversial approach, often referred to as “concept-based” pedagogy. In Rhode Island’s case, the Socialist worldview of Infante-Green and her “America as oppressors” point-of-view is persistently woven through almost all RIDE-recommended instructional content.

  • SOLUTION: Repeal the 2019 statue that empowered RIDE with curricula authority and return related decisions to locally-elected school committee officials, as Senate bill S2518 attempted to achieve in 2024.

The Marxification of Education in RI: On RIDE’s own website, the prominent Marxist Paulo Freire is prominently quoted. Freire’s “critical pedagogy,” whose theoretical roots are derived directly from Marxism, seeks to indoctrinate students to become critical agents of social change.

RIDE has failed in its mission to prepare children for college and life, while also leading the way in advancing a woke, social justice agenda that has divided local communities.

Education or Indoctrination?

Read more

Frank & Liz Mauran are living models of liberty. In donating their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to the great American ideal, they also exemplify all three foundational principles that comprise the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity’s annual Middendorf Pillar of Freedom Award; personal philanthropy, civic engagement, and free-market or entrepreneurial achievement.

Frank and Liz Mauran 2023 Honorees

2023 Middendorf Pillar of Freedom Award

Frank & Liz Mauran are living models of liberty. In donating their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to the great American ideal, they also exemplify all three foundational principles that comprise the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity’s annual Middendorf Pillar of Freedom Award; personal philanthropy, civic engagement, and free-market or entrepreneurial achievement.

Indeed, perhaps no other husband and wife duo in the Ocean State can present more notable family and civic ties to the very founding of Rhode Island and of America, while their ongoing philanthropy and business ventures continue to benefit our state and the nation.

The Mauran family ancestry reads like a history book. Roger Williams, himself, was originally buried in the backyard of their historic home on Benefit Street. Frank’s lineage includes such prominent Rhode Island names as Thomas Wilson Dorr, William Ames, John and Lincoln Chafee, Governors Henry and Charles Lippitt, and US Senator Jesse Metcalf. Liz is great-granddaughter of a former New Hampshire Governor, Frank West Rollins, whose father was former U.S. Senator, Edward W. Rollins, founder of the Granite State’s Republican party.

Further, as a direct descendent of a Revolutionary War major, Frank is a state officer and member of the Society of the Cincinnati, America’s oldest patriotic organization, founded in 1783 by the officers of General George Washington’s Continental Army. Meanwhile, Liz is Vice Regent to Rhode Island for the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, the oldest national preservation organization charged with preserving the estate owned by George Washington.

Beginning in the late 1700’s with Sullivan Dorr, Frank’s family prospered from trade with China, in textile manufacturing, as the original “tugboat” operator in Narragansett Bay (founding the Providence Steamboat Company), and in the newspaper business, where his grandfather served as former Chairman of The Providence Journal. Similarly, Liz’s father founded a timber company in Maine, for which she has served as long time President.

Frank has engaged in multiple entrepreneurial pursuits in recent decades, publishing the Rhode Island “Onion” magazine, co-founding a money-management firm and a commercial real-estate firm, and now owning and operating a popular UPS Store in Providence’s jewelry district.

When it comes to civic engagement, Frank, a US Navy veteran who was twice deployed during the Reagan build-up years, has also been a long-time supporter of the state and federal Republican party. Liz is the Vice President of MoHA (Mile of Historic Association) whose goal is to preserve the history and protect famed Benefit Street in Providence.

The couple’s philanthropic munificence is a central component of their contributions to society. Whether donating their time or treasure, the generosity of Frank and Liz Mauran has benefitted countless Ocean Staters and Americans.

They have also been major financial supporters of each of these organizations for which they have selflessly donated their time and expertise. Liz has also served for decades on the board of the Rhode Island Zoological Society and the family has contributed to multiple projects at the Roger Williams Park Zoo. Similarly, Frank serves as a board member and donor to The Rhode Island Nature Conservancy, which preserves lands vital to our environment. Among the many other organizations supported by the Maurans, are the RI Historical Society, Crossroads RI, the Perennial Planters Garden Club, and the Newport Historical Society.

With regard to our Center, without the generous support of Frank Mauran, The Ocean State Current and its In The Dugout podcast would not exist today.

Married in 1987 and with three children, the family enjoys spending time in Exeter.

At our 2023 Freedom Banquet, we honor the great contributions to Rhode Island and American society by Frank and Liz Mauran. With a storied thread of ancestral history, they are not only highly deserving recipients, but they exemplify and have dedicated their lives – by their many good deeds – to the principles and foundations of America and of our organization’s annual Pillar of Freedom award.

The J. William Middendorf Pillar of Freedom Award is named in honor of Ambassador J. William Middendorf, Little Compton resident, former Secretary of the Navy, and current Heritage Foundation board member. He is, perhaps, Rhode Island’s greatest living defender of freedom.



The RI General Assembly made the major mistake of passing legislation that empowered RIDE to develop curricula for various subjects.

New Report Blasts Social Studies Standards Proposed by RI Department of Education

How Rhode Island’s Social Studies Standards Teach Radical Activism Instead of America’s Birthright of Liberty

Providence, RI – The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, in partnership with the Civics Alliance, today released a report entitled, “Taken For a RIDE”, which presents a detailed critique of Rhode Island’s Social Studies Standards (Standards) as proposed this past December by the RI Department of Education (RIDE).

The 54-page report, subtitled, “How Rhode Island’s Social Studies Standards Shortchange Students,” documents in detail how Rhode Island’s educational establishment plans to systematically “teach students to hate their country, its history, and its ideals, and to know only distorted tatters of the history of the world,” while also making an argument for substantially modifying or entirely replacing the Standards with a more historically accurate and widely acceptable set of standards.

“The Standards is neither by the people of Rhode Island, nor of the people of Rhode Island—but it nevertheless will be imposed on the people of Rhode Island.”

Released just one day after the Center exposed how RIDE is also pushing an age-inappropriate and over-sexualized K-12 student health curricula, “these incompetent and misguided social studies standards are further evidence that RIDE has proven itself wholly irresponsible and unworthy of the authority granted to it by the General Assembly in 2019,” said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “Lawmakers must repeal that statute, which has been grossly exploited by commissioner Angelica Infante-Greene and her staff.”

The well-documented report, which can be viewed at, includes dozens of source footnotes, appendices, and links to source documents.

Taken For a RIDE contends that the Standards being proposed to establish Social Studies curriculum for all K-12 public schools in RI improperly de-emphasize historical truths about the founding and development of our country and emphasize instead radical, negative aspects of our history, which could result in students having an incomplete and distorted perception of the United States.

“In the long run, of course, Rhode Island will suffer most because its children will have been educated to hate their country. But the Standards will be quite effective in the short run in degrading every aspect of Rhode Island’s K-12 social studies instruction.”

The report is critical of the content, methodology, and process used by RIDE to create the proposed curriculum guidelines, stating “they have produced a document that is bloated, vague, riddled with errors, distortions, and absences” without the legally required public comment or legislative review.

“Rhode Island’s citizens deserve excellent social studies standards,” said David Randall, report author and Executive Director of the Civics Alliance. “Rhode Island citizens and policymakers should work at once to make all the statutory and administrative changes necessary to make sure that RIDE crafts proper social studies standards for their children – standards that educate Rhode Island’s children to know and to love their American birthright of liberty.”

Alternately, Randall and the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity advise that an already established set of curriculum guidelines created and vetted by the Civics Alliance and the National Association of Scholars – American Birthright – should be used as the basis for Social Studies curricula in Rhode Island.

Stenhouse calls upon state legislators to repeal the 2019 law; upon school districts to reject the Standards; and for Rhode Island citizens to insist that RIDE overhaul the guidelines in compliance with the legislation that mandates how the process must be done, including a proper period for public review and comment, before it’s too late.

“Rhode Island parents are encouraged to pressure their local school districts to find a legal way to reject RIDE’s bogus social studies standards and, instead, adopt the well-balanced and historically accurate American Birthright standards, which will appeal to a broad majority of parents and Americans,” concluded Stenhouse.

Joint Publication: The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity and the Civics Alliance have issued this report jointly. The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, which is a member of the American Birthright coalition, works to forward the best public policy within the state of Rhode Island. The Civics Alliance works to improve K-12 social studies education nationwide, especially along the model of American Birthright: The Civics’ Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards. The two organizations have joined together to produce this report, both to improve social studies standards in Rhode Island and as part of a larger campaign to improve American K-12 social studies education.

Author Biography: David Randall is Director of Research at the National Association of Scholars and Executive Director of the Civics Alliance. He served as Publication Coordinator for American Birthright: The Civics Alliance’s Model K-12 Social Studies Standards (2022). His academic publications include The Concept of Conversation: From Cicero’s Sermo to the Grand Siècle’s Conversation (2018) and The Conversational Enlightenment: The Reconception of Rhetoric in Eighteenth-Century Thought (2019).

Center To Attend Regional Summit on Approaches to Educating the Public and Holding State Government Accountable

Center to Attend Regional Summit on Approaches to Educating the Public and Holding State Government Accountable Hosted by MassFiscal

Press Conference with Other New England States Scheduled for Tuesday

BOSTON – On Tuesday, January 17, the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance will host an in person press conference in Boston with Paul Craney of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, Dan Winslow of the New England Legal Foundation, Greg Moore of Americans for Prosperity in New Hampshire, Drew Cline of the Josiah Bartlett Center, Nick Murray of Maine Heritage Policy, Rob Roper and Meg Hanson of the Ethan Allen Institute in Vermont, Mike Stenhouse of Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, and Bryce Chinault of the Yankee Institute in Connecticut. Although each of the New England states are very different, the non-partisan organizations are coming together to discuss what unites them, and how they can work together
to advocate for their members and the public.

“After successfully defeating the TCI Gas Tax, which, like the covid vaccine and mask mandates, was a destructive prescription for an over-hyped problem, our regional coalition is set to take on the next agenda-driven, government-contrived, and media-advanced false narrative,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity. “In Rhode Island, expanding natural gas pipeline capacity, and decoupling our state from RGGI and from California’s coslty and harsh CARB regulations are our Center’s number one energy-related priorities.”

The press conference will begin on Tuesday, January 17 at 11:30 a.m. at a location on Beacon Hill. If you wish to attend, please email and the location will be provided.

The MassFiscal Alliance advocates for fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability in state government and increased economic opportunity for the people of the Commonwealth.

Have Teacher Unions in Rhode Island Been Unlawfully Collecting Dues for Years?


Government officials take an oath of office to preserve the constitutional rights of their constituents. However, in Rhode Island, school board officials who approved agreements with special-interest public employee unions have effectively hidden those rights from their employees via unconstitutional collective bargaining provisions that are in direct defiance of the Supreme Court Of the United States (SCOTUS).

In 2018, the highest court in America ruled that public employees must retain power over their own paychecks. Yet, since then, many government unions in Rhode Island may have unlawfully collected dues from employees by propagating misleading language that overtly shields them from knowledge of their rights.

The landmark June 2018 US Supreme Court decision in the Janus v AFSCME case opened the door to worker freedom in America. But some of the old political machines were taken aback, especially government employee unions at the state and local level. SCOTUS ruled that no longer could a public employee be mandated to pay union “dues”, “Association fees”, “agency fees”, or “shop fees” as a condition of their employment.

Under the weight of this ruling, most public employee unions across the country, reluctantly realizing the great financial and legal risk of non-compliance, immediately amended their policies and subsequent contract agreements to comply with the new law … such that any dues payments could only be collected once the employee affirmatively provided clear authorization … but not so for many unions in Rhode Island.

According to the Mackinac Center in Michigan, one of nation’s top legal and public policy experts when it comes to government unions, Rhode Island’s rate of non-compliance with the Janus ruling looks to be among the highest in the country. The extent to which blatantly anti-Janus-constitutional provisions still exist in many teacher union Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) is alarming.

An initial review of about three dozen collective bargaining agreements with local school districts in Rhode Island reveals an alarming number – eleven (more than 1 in 4) – that were signed or put into effect after the Janus ruling, contained dues or fees mandate provisions that clearly defy the Supreme Court’s ruling … provisions that are legally unenforceable.

Types of language clearly violating the Janus Supreme Court ruling that were found in the eleven Rhode Island CBAs with local chapters of the NEA, AFT, AFL-CIO, and AFSCME … unlawful provisions that remained in effect for years after 2018 … can be summarized as including passages that:

  • Require automatic deduction of dues or fees from employee paychecks without their expressed consent
  • Require payment of dues or fees as a condition of employment
  • Limit the union opt-out time-window for employees

The table below summarizes the unlawful language of offending school districts (supporting details appear as an Appendix at the end of this report:)

As an example of what a properly worded CBA should look like, post-Janus, we look to provisions in the agreement between the Glocester K-5 school district and the Glocester Teachers’ Association for the time period July 2019 to June 2022:

The Glocester school district maintained the above Articles 20 and 21, post-Janus, but appropriately REMOVED the following provision that appeared in the district’s pre-Janus CBA:

As national examples of how post-Janus federal court cases compelled government unions to appropriately modify their dues/fees collection policies, what follows is language from two related US Third Circuit cases:

LaSpina v. SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, 985 F.3d 278, 282 (3rd Cir. 2021). After the Supreme Court decided Janus, the Union abandoned its agency-fee setup. The day the Court issued its decision, Steve Catanese, president of SEIU Local 668, wrote to Jack Finnerty of the Scranton Public Library “that the Supreme Court has ruled in Janus” and has “held public-sector employers may no longer deduct agency fees from non-consenting employees.” Supp. App. 69. Catanese’s letter instructed Finnerty to, “effective immediately, please discontinue fair-share fee deductions.” Id. (emphasis in original).

“Therefore, under Janus I, Pennsylvania’s public sector agency shop law was no longer constitutional.” Diamond v. Pennsylvania Educ. Ass’n, 972 F.3d 262, 268 (3rd Cir. 2020). Circuit law directly on point.

Other Supreme Court precedent illustrates what must be done to demonstrate employee consent. The Court has ruled that, to demonstrate consent to a waiver of constitutional rights, there must be evidence that the waiver is a “knowing, intelligent act … done with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely consequences.” Brady v United States, 397 U.S. 742, 748 (1970). “It must also be done with “a full awareness of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it.” Moran v. Burbine, 475 U.S. 421,421 (1986) …

Per the SCOTUS ruling, before employees can consent to financially supporting a public sector union, they must know both what their rights are and the consequences of waiving those rights.

Yet, not every school district in Rhode Island was as careful to follow the law as was Glocester, as many districts continued to allow overtly unconstitutional language to remain in their post-Janus CBAs, without providing employees with the required notification of their rights.

One of the most blatant examples of such an unconstitutional provision appears in the September 2018 Westerly Teachers’ Association CBA:

How did this happen? Elected school committee members were either complicit with teacher unions in allowing such “unlawful” language to remain, or they were unwitting victims of malfeasance or ill-advice by their school committee solicitors, who are highly paid to provide accurate legal guidance.

The fact is, that for over three years, many teachers and other school district staff in Rhode Island may have been fraudulently deceived into paying union dues or association fees because of the unconstitutional language in their respective CBAs. These employees likely had dues automatically deducted from their paychecks without ever understanding that their First Amendment rights – that they could not be forced to pay part of their paycheck to their union – had been restored in 2018.

Indeed, as compared with opt-out rates nationally, Rhode Island teachers and other public employees are choosing to “opt-out” of paying union dues at rates far lower than their counterparts in other states. While states like California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are seeing more than 15% of workers opt out of paying money to their unions, we estimate that less than 5% of Rhode Island union members have opted out. Now, we may know why.

In the majority Supreme Court decision in 2018, Justice Alito was noted that billions of dollars were likely collected by government unions nationwide in recent decades. Much of this money came from employees who never wanted to pay union dues in the first place but were forced to, because of prior legal precedent.

However, over the past three and a half years, Rhode Island unions may have similarly, yet unlawfully, collected millions of dollars in dues from employees who may have chosen to opt-out … had they not been deceived by clearly unconstitutional language.

Obvious questions must be asked, including:

  • How many teachers and school staff would not have paid union dues if they had been appropriately advised of their rights? How much money was fraudulently collected by unions?
  • Why do so man teacher union CBAs in Rhode Island contain such unconstitutional language? 
  • Why did Rhode Island school committees and teacher unions engage in such non-compliance so much more than any other state?
  • Did school committee members knowingly turn a blind eye towards this malfeasance, or were they completely ignorant of these obvious violations?
  • How can high-paid school committee solicitors allow such obviously unconstitutional language to be included in recent CBAs?
  • Is anything comparable to this level of unconstitutionality occurring in non-teacher public employee CBA contracts in Rhode Island?

Why in some cases, does the AFSCME CBA have proper language regarding dues and fees, while the teacher contract over the same period in the same school district has unconstitutional language?

The main question this report raises … is whether or not certain public teacher unions in Rhode Island conspired to illicitly collect union dues from unwitting teachers and staff?

This is not the first time that a government entity in Rhode Island has exhibited such blatant defiance of the US Supreme Court’s Janus decision. In 2018, our Center’s campaign triggered a public letter of warning from then Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, after our outreach initiative sought to educate government workers about their restored Janus rights. The letter from Rhode Island’s highest law enforcement official contained numerous unsubstantiated, unspecified, and false assertions of “misinformation” being put forth by our RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, such as the bogus claim that we were mis-informing public employees of their rights not to join or pay union dues or fees.

Then, as now, the pattern of government officials in Rhode Island conducting the bidding of public sector unions – at both the state and local level – even to the extent of seeking to obfuscate the constitutional rights of its members … runs directly contrary to the public oaths they took upon entering office.

A review of non-school district CBAs will soon be conducted by the Center.

The following Appendix lists images the actual passages from post-Janus teacher-union CBAs in Rhode Island that contain language that does not comply with the US Supreme Court’s Janus ruling.


Rhode Island School Districts with Unconstitutional Collective Bargaining Provisions


Burrillville: NEA Contract Period: September 2021-2024



Foster-Glocester: NEA Contract Period 2020-2023


Johnston: AFL-CIO Local 808 Contract period 2017-2020, extended in 2020 by the school district

Pages 4-5:

June 2020 Johnston School District Minutes


Lincoln: AFSCME Contract Period September 2018-2021


New Shoreham: AFSCME Contract Period 2019-2022


North Smithfield: NEA Contract Period 2021-24

Page-6: NSTA Collective Bargaining Agreement

Portsmouth: AFSCME Contract Period September 2018-2021

Tiverton: NEA Contract Period; 2019 –


Westerly: NEA Contract Period September 2018-2021


West Warwick: AFT Contract Period September 2018-2023


Center’s Chairman Files Federal Lawsuit to Overturn State of RI Ban on Caring for His Patients

Dr. Skoly Files Federal Lawsuit
Complaint alleges that the State’s actions barring him from caring for his patients are unconstitutional, irrational, arbitrary, and vindictive

Cranston, RI – Dr. Stephen Skoly and his legal team today filed a lawsuit in federal court against defendants Governor Daniel McKee and Nicole Alexander-Scott, the outgoing Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), seeking an order to enjoin the State from barring him from caring for his patients as well as a restraining order that would immediately restore his right to continue his practice.

Dr. Skoly, Chairman of the RI Center for Freedom of Prosperity and a highly respected oral and maxillofacial surgeon who regularly provided service to those institutionalized by the State, was ordered by RIDOH on October 1, 2021 to cease providing his critical surgical care to patients, after his request for a medical exemption for the Covid-19 vaccine was denied.

The official complaint was prepared by attorney Brian Rosner, Senior Litigation Counsel for the nationally renowned and Washington, DC based New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) and was filed today in the United States District Court for Rhode Island by local attorney Gregory Piccirilli.

“After four months of being forced out of work, I still held out some hope that all mandates might come to an end in mid February. But now, with Rhode Island’s Speaker of the House and Senate President openly planning with Governor McKee to extend his executive orders and unilateral powers for at least another two months … I am left with no choice but to file this lawsuit,” exclaimed Skoly, who for 18 months of the pandemic safely cared for his patients.

At a special breaking news event, Rosner and Skoly will address the public and the media live today at 4:00 PM virtually on The Ocean State Current in a hybrid press-conference/interview format, hosted by the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse.

The 34-page complaint puts forth two primary arguments for the Court to consider:

First, the complaint claims that Dr. Skoly’s “equal protection” and “due process” rights were violated, under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, which states that no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” In Dr. Skoly’s case, the State of Rhode Island has awarded hundreds of related exemptions to various healthcare professionals, while simultaneously denying Dr. Skoly equal consideration and failing to provide the legal due process that he is entitled to.

Second, the complaint cites that it was an “irrational and arbitrary move” for RIDOH to deny Dr. Skoly’s valid request for a medical exemption. The complaint not only documents Dr. Skoly’s naturally acquired immunity and antibody testing, but also his personal medical history of suffering from Bell’s Palsy facial paralysis, a condition that has scientifically been demonstrated to be associated with the Covid-19 vaccine … and where at least fifteen such cases have been reported in Rhode Island. Risking re-activation of such paralysis in order to continue his medical practice is repeatedly cited in the complaint as an irrational demand by the State of Rhode Island, which has caused “hardship and suffering to hundreds of Rhode Islanders” who are denied care by Dr. Skoly.

In advancing its “equal protection” argument, the complaint discusses how N95 masking has essentially been designated by the State as an acceptable alternative to vaccination. Dr. Skoly, who has agreed to comply with required testing and masking protocols, presents no more risk to patients than the hundreds and thousands of other healthcare workers, vaccinated or not, infected or not, who are currently allowed to care for patients under those same protocols. The complaint continues that the State, in allowing masked and “infected” workers to retain their livelihoods, while barring (infection-free) Dr. Skoly from practicing his profession, is guilty of an “arbitrary and capricious distinction” that “denies Dr. Skoly the equal protection of the law” .. an “action that has the appearance of being vindictive.”

Sources have informed the Center that RIDOH staff have privately admitted that Dr. Skoly was being made an example of, in part, because of his association with “that conservative organization” … as Chairman of our RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

Supporting Dr. Skoly’s position, and included in the filing, are over a dozen affidavits from local medical professionals, including statements from multiple national experts on Bell’s Palsy and Covid-19, as well as citation of recent findings from the CDC and updated policies from other countries.

Also, to date, about 4000 emails have been delivered to state officials via an online petition whereby concerned citizens and can #StandWithDocSkoly . The petition, plus related documentation and links can be found on the Center’s website at

DLT Joins RI DOH in Persecution of Doc Skoly

DLT Denies Unemployment Benefits Under Pressure from DOH
Governor and General Assembly Silent as Targeted Abuse Continues

Cranston, RI – In a shocking example of coordinated government abuse, the Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training (DLT) has apparently caved under pressure from the Department of Health (DOH) to deny benefits to Dr. Stephen Skoly, after the latter issued a compliance order that banned the longtime surgeon from providing critical care to his private and wards-of-the state patients, effectively shutting down his practice.

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has obtained copies of notices from DLT to Dr. Skoly, citing “Voluntary Quit” and “potentially fraudulent activity” as reasons why his claims for unemployment benefits were “disqualified” … even though another government agency was directly responsible for Skoly’s unemployment status.

It was initially communicated by a DLT official that Skoly’s original benefit denial was in error … and would soon be remedied. However, it appears RI DOH has since over-ruled the DLT, as part of its effort to destroy Dr. Skoly for daring to exercise his first-amendment rights.

“I have always put the safety of my patients as my number one priority. But this act of government totalitarianism clearly indicates that public health is not the DOH’s top priority. In targeting me for punishment, these vengeful acts demonstrate that this is all about politics” exclaimed Skoly, the Center’s Chairman, who for decades was the sole contractor to the RI DOH to provide his specialty care. Dr. Skoly has not been allowed to care for his patients for two months and was forced to lay-off his 12 person staff, who are now collecting unemployment payments at taxpayer expense. “My attorneys are right now preparing my legal challenge.”

Dr. Skoly’s plight will be discussed in detail by Mike Stenhouse and co-host Steve Laffey today at 4:00 PM EST on the popular In The Dugout show at .

Even worse, even though Skoly has been paying into the state’s unemployment fund for decades for himself and his staff, DLT has also denied benefits to laid-off employees of Dr. Skoly’s practice.

“Outrageous; this is an obvious and corrupt conspiracy. I have learned through my sources that government officials are making an example of Dr. Skoly because of his affiliation with our Center,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO. “It should be of grave concern to every Ocean Stater that unelected bureaucrats like Nicole Alexander-Scott can wield such vengeful and absolute power … while feckless elected officials like Governor McKee and Speaker Shekarchi just stand back and let it all be. We have truly reached crisis levels of unchecked bureaucratic tyranny.”

This is not the first time unelected and unaccountable ideologues at DOH have maliciously exerted their power over other branches of government. Shortly after DOH issued its October 1 compliance order against him, and with it becoming increasingly obvious that wards of the state were suffering because they could not receive his care, Dr. Skoly received word that Governor McKee might consider offering him a special-circumstance extension. However, in subsequent negotiations, Alexander-Scott’s staff refused to acknowledge the Governor’s offer, which was immediately pulled from the table.

Initially, after issuing its compliance order against Dr. Skoly, the RIDOH also refused to comply with the prescribed regulatory process or provide any formal hearing, as required, to consider Skoly’s unique medical exemption claim, which includes high levels of naturally acquired immunity against the Covid-19 virus.

As an oral and maxillo-facial surgeon, Dr. Skoly’s practice should be regulated by the state’s Board of Examiners in Dentistry, a legitimate and long-standing regulatory review process. However, RI DOH … recognizing the great respect Dr. Skoly has rightfully earned from this board’s members after decades of stellar service as a contractor to the State and as service provider to private patients … instead bypassed that longstanding process and arranged a sham ‘administrative’ hearing earlier this month to uphold its unlawful compliance order.

Then, in early November, the RI DOH openly defied Governor McKee … after he granted extensions to workers at two hospitals regarding their compliance with Rhode Island’s healthcare worker vaccine mandate … when it slapped violation notices on the Landmark Medical Center and the state-operated Eleanor Slater Hospital as a precursor to eventual fines and patient care restrictions.

Dr. Skoly, an oral and maxillo-facial surgeon, questions why the RIDOH refuses to recognize his naturally acquired immunity to Covid19 (and other healthcare workers’) as a legitimate medical exemption. In late September, he made public his decision to not comply with the state’s October 1 vaccination mandate for healthcare workers, a decision he based on his personal and rare medical history as well as his principled belief in individual liberty.

As the over-whelming body of scientific evidence supports Dr. Skoly’s position, the Center has for months publicly called for the DOH to include natural immunity as an allowed exemption for any Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

While the Center opposes government-imposed mask and vaccine mandates, the data clearly demonstrates that “natural immunity” is an important policy consideration; and that the existing RI DOH healthcare worker vaccine mandate, for as long as it is allowed to legally stand, must be immediately modified (as the science overwhelmingly suggests) to include “natural immunity” as an approved case for exemption.

Earlier this fall, based on analysis of state and international research data, as performed by Dr. Andrew Bostom, in support of a conclusion that has been publicly advanced by a growing host of nationally prominent immunologists, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity (Center) called on the Rhode Island Department of Health to include “natural immunity” as an allowed “contraindication to vaccination” on the official RI DOH medical exemption form.

In the Center’s policy brief published by Dr. Bostom, an adjunct medical scholar to the Center and a Brown University credentialed epidemiologist, when assessing the benefits and risks of natural immunity to Covid-19 as compared with immunity from the vaccine, Bostom joins an increasing number of medical professionals and institutions in concluding that the body’s natural immune system provides a more robust and longer lasting protection against Covid-19 than do the currently offered vaccines.

To date, about 4000 emails have been delivered to state officials via an online petition whereby concerned citizens and can #StandWithDocSkoly . The petition, plus related documentation and links can be found on the Center’s website at

General Assembly to Blame for Children Suffering Irreparable Harm?

Southwell v. McKee Court Ruling Puts Onus on Lawmakers

While Children Suffer, General Assembly Does Nothing

Parents Demand House Speaker & Senate President Engage

Cranston, RI – “The court finds children are suffering … irreparable harm … physical and emotional … with potential long-term medical problems … with the mask mandate.”

These were just some of the chilling findings by Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Lanphear in his ruling this past Friday, even though he denied the parent-plaintiffs the temporary restraining order they sought to end school mask mandates in their Southwell v. McKee lawsuit.

Yet for the entirety of the pandemic, General Assembly leaders have been AWOL, allowing this harm to children, as well as considerable other economic and constitutional harms, to continue unchecked and in the shadows.

In speaking for the 34 plaintiff parents, and for all concerned parents, lead plaintiff, Richard Southwell, said, “As does every parent in this state, we are concerned with the well-being of our children. We strongly disagree with the judge’s opinion that the State’s claimed risks associated with spread among unmasked children in any way outweigh the problems our children are actually suffering. The public needs to hear what we heard in court,” continued Southwell, who, along with other parents, will be guests of Mike Stenhouse on his popular In The Dugout show at 4:00 pm today at .

In ruling against the plaintiffs, the judge essentially ruled that it is not within the purview of the court to over-rule a “political” policy that does not clearly violate a constitutional right. Such a decision, the judge wrote, is a “question left to the legislative and executive branches of government.”

“In light of these deeply troubling findings, the General Assembly no longer has the luxury of watching from the sidelines. Your direct and immediate action on this issue is required. There can be no delays. There can be no more excuses,” pleaded Southwell.

For 18 months, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has called on the General Assembly to come out from hiding and restore more balanced governance and transparent debate during the pandemic.

In August, 32 legislators, likewise concerned, signed a letter to the Governor calling for an end to the mask mandate, while threatening legislative action if he did not, a power statutorily granted to the General Assembly. However, legislative leaders quickly shut down any follow-up mutiny and continued to refuse to show any leadership on behalf of the public they serve.

With these stunning findings of pediatric harm confirmed by the court, the suffering of Ocean State students must be addressed forthright: The Center calls upon General Assembly leaders to immediately convene hearings to determine if school mask mandates and other ’emergency executive orders’ should be contravened by concurrent resolution.

“Who is really running this state? Elected officials – the Governor, Senators, and Representatives … or unelected ideologues at the RI Department of Health,” cynically asked Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Through their inaction, Speaker of the House Shekarchi and Senate President Ruggerio obviously do not want the responsibility of governing over pandemic related policies … but the judge was right, this is their job … and it’s high time they show some courage and get to work for the people. It is their duty to hold public hearings whereby all of the facts and issues can be openly debated. For too long, the Governor and RIDOH have ruled unchecked and without necessary public scrutiny.”

Earlier this morning in an email, Southwell invited Shekarchi and Ruggerio to meet with his parent group Wednesday evening, however, thus far, there has been no response.

Decisive evidence presented during the October trial, as well as the overwhelming body of national and international research, clearly show that there is no medical justification for masking children over prolonged periods of time. The Center maintains that this important information must be presented, debated, and assessed transparently in a public hearing that only the General Assembly can credibly hold.


Dr. Stephen Skoly, chairman of our Center, has been practicing oral surgery in Rhode Island for over three decades – and safely over the entire period of the pandemic. Now, the insiders want to shut him down. Sign the petition now!