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RI aims to double charter schools

August 17, 2010

State education officials learned Monday they will get nearly $2.4 million from the Obama Administration to increase the number of charter schools in Rhode Island. By September there will be 15 charter schools operating in the state; the goal is to have as many as 26 charter schools over the next three years, mostly in urban districts.

Critics of charter schools say they take money away from other public schools, which educate the vast majority of Rhode Island school children. The research on charter schools is mixed. At least two large-scale national studies have shown recently that some charter schools get impressive results, but on average they are no better than local public schools. In some cases, the studies found that charter schools performed worse than traditional public schools in the same neighborhood.

Supporters of charter schools say they are an important tool for breaking through the bureaucratic inertia and entrenched labor-management disputes that hold up reforms in public schools. Rhode Island recently raised the limit on charter schools to allow as many as 36 to operate statewide. State officials say they will use part of the grant to increase quality controls on charter schools.

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