PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Governor Dan McKee spoke out Tuesday against a bill that aims to put a three-year pause on the expansion of charter schools in Rhode Island.
This is the first big legislative push by McKee since he took office earlier this month.
The governor has been a big proponent of school choice since his days as mayor of Cumberland. He said he would veto the bill as it’s currently written, if it were to make it to his desk.
“It makes no sense,” McKee said.
On Tuesday, McKee held a news conference to lay out his opposition to the bill which would suspend the creation and expansion of charter schools.
“As the parents of our most vulnerable students evaluate learning opportunities and their options available to their kids, the General Assembly is considering putting even stricter limits on their choices,” he explained.
Public charter schools give parents a choice on where to send their children without the cost of tuition, and they are based on a lottery admission system.
Charters are publicly funded by municipalities.
“It’s a public school,” McKee added. “Those dollars that are leaving the public schools to go to another public school is public money and it belongs to the families and it belongs to the kids.”
The R.I. Senate passed the moratorium last month, with supporters saying charter school expansion will have a devastating impact on the districts whose students attend them.
“This pause is necessary because the way we fund education is not equitable, and we need a little bit of more time to fix it,” said state Sen. Sandra Cano, D-Pawtucket.
The legislation is set to go before a House committee on Wednesday.
The House bill will apply to three new charter schools and the expansion of three existing ones in Providence. Its sponsor claims the proposed expansion would take more than $90 million in funding from traditional district schools.