UPDATE: Angus Davis reports on Passing Notes that this morning Secretary of Education Arne Duncan commented on the mistake that Rhode Island is making by not funding charter schools:
Places like Rhode Island that are thinking about under-funding charters are obviously going to put themselves at a huge competitive disadvantage going forward. So we don’t think that’s a smart thing for them to do, and we’re going to make that very, very clear.” (APPLAUSE)
It is time for the General Assembly to reconsider whether they want to shortchange all of Rhode Island by not paying attention to the new Democratic national leadership on education.
ORIGINAL POST: In a post on his blog, Passing Notes, entrepreneur and education reformer (and member of the Rhode Island Board of Regents) Angus Davis responded to the state budget which cut $1.5 million in funds for charter schools:
Rhode Island Risks Losing $4.3 Billion “Race to the Top”
Statement of Angus Davis, speaking for Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education, Thursday, June 18, 2009:
Preserving the Governor’s proposed $1.5 million in funding for new charter schools is a priority for RIDE and the Regents as the General Assembly debates the budget. On June 8, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said states that fail to embrace new charter schools “jeopardize their applications under the [$4.3 billion] Race to the Top Fund.” Loss of support for new charter schools recently approved by the Regents would put Rhode Island at risk of dropping out of the race, just as it gets underway.
Rhode Island’s budget is balanced in part thanks to an influx of $110 million in new education stimulus funding (with $88 million more pledged next year, and $4.3 billion up for grabs through the ‘Race to the Top’ Fund), all overseen by Secretary Duncan and administered in Rhode Island through RIDE. Winning additional federal dollars (not just for public charter schools but for all public schools) depends on how we spend these new funds we were just given, and how our policies embrace education reform to raise student achievement moving forward. [full text]
It’s sad to think we may be jeopardizing large amounts of educational funding to our state because we did not fund charter schools. I hope the General Assembly will carefully consider this decision and its ramifications as they vote on the budget next week.