Regents vote no on Achievement First
The State Board of Education has voted against a plan for a network of charter schools in Cranston. The 7-1 vote came after a letter from Governor Lincoln Chafee, urging members of the board not to ignore local opposition to the proposal.
Cranston school leaders, teachers and city councilors have been speaking out against the new schools, saying they would have a negative affect on funding for district public schools.
Charter school proponents called the decision a loss for children and a win for special interest groups.
“The Board’s decision to deny the Achievement First application is an affront to the mayors who supported the school, the communities that need it and the children who deserve to get on the path to college,” said Mary-Ellen Butke of the Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now. “The opposition to the application came from a vocal minority and it is clear by today’s vote that their voices were heard above the many parents who wanted a high-performing school in their community.”
State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist says she was actually encouraged by the governor’s letter, which expresses support for charter schools as a tool to improve public education. And the proposal from Achievement First is not quite dead in the water.
Governor Chafee has pledged to visit Achievement First schools in Connecticut to find out more about them. He also tells the Board of Regents that he will direct the State Department of Education to explore a new proposal to bring Achievement First to Providence.
Chafee notes that Providence city and school officials support the plan, and he suggests that the new proposal include students from several communities including Providence, Cranston, Central Falls and Warwick, which would reduce the financial impact on any single school district.