PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Foundation (RIF) unveiled its 2023 Policy Framework to improve the state’s public education system.
The Long-Term Education Planning Committee convened in 2018 at the request of RIF to develop plans for improving education in Rhode Island.
The group released a 10-year plan for improving education in Rhode Island in 2020 called Chart a course, Stay the Course: Rhode Island’s Path to a World-Class Public Education System.
“The committee has remained focused on what we believe are the four priorities needed to establish a world-class education system in Rhode Island,” said Neil Steinberg, the president and CEO of RIF.
Those four priorities, which RIF lays out in its 10-year plan, are high standards, educator support, investment priorities, and clear governance.
The new policy recommends new incentives for recruiting and retaining teachers, including loan forgiveness. It recommends targeted incentives for teachers of color and teachers in hard-to-fill subjects such as math and science.
RIF’s policy also recommends adjusting the state’s funding formula to provide school districts with more money for low-income students, multi-language learners, and students who require special education.
Committee members agreed that Rhode Island should establish a statewide fund for professional development like the Professional Development Investment Fund, which was last funded in 2009.
“I think professional development could have the biggest impact. Besides student demographics, teacher quality is the biggest predictor of student outcomes,” said Mike DiBiase, the co-chair of the committee.
“I think everyone agrees with our existing professional development structure that we put a lot of time and energy into, is not as effective as it could be,” he continued.
Amend Article I of the state constitution
The committee also looks to amend the state constitution to make public education a “fundamental right.”
According to the release, in 1995, and again in 2010, Rhode Island’s Supreme Court said the education article (XII), did not grant education as a right.
“Right now people don’t have any individual rights for an adequate education in Rhode Island unlike in other states,” DiBiase said.
Last week, the Rhode Island Senate passed a bill supporting the change, but before it’s approved to be on the ballot it must get passed through the House.