As I read Senator Sheehan’s April 17 opinion piece about increasing oversight of charter schools, I saw many opportunities to myth-bust charter school misconceptions. Given that misinformation about charters was shared publicly and originated from one of our esteemed members of the legislature, I worry that the community might take his misunderstandings as facts. Like Rhode Island’s other public bodies, charter schools are also held to high standards of accountability and transparency.
I read with some interest the Guest Mindsetter commentary of Senator James Sheehan regarding his legislation (2018- S 2816), in which he suggests that our Rhode Island charter schools are not transparent or held accountable for their performance. I recently testified against his bill before the Senate Education Committee to debunk these false notions.
First, Sen. Sheehan perpetuates the false notion that charter schools are “privately-run” schools despite the fact that he knows otherwise. Charter schools are, in fact, public schools for the same reason that district schools are public. Charter schools receive their authority to deliver public education from the General Assembly through Title 16 of the R.I. General Laws. Thus, charter Schools are Local Education Authorities (LEA’s) just as local school districts. To suggest that a local district school board should have a designated seat on a charter school board is tantamount to suggesting that the South Kingstown School Committee should have a designated seat on the North Kingstown School Committee, which is just nonsense. Continue reading “Oliveira: Sen. Sheehan’s False Assertions”
We are public schools
Our 18 schools serve the public, are open to the public, funded by the public and held accountable to the public. We enroll students through a fair and transparent lottery system, which is open to all students, including many from low income, diverse communities. We are free to be innovative and are held accountable for improved student achievement. We have flexibility around how we spend our resources and run our programs, helping us explore best practices and share them with both charter and traditional public schools.
Whether we’re working with traditional public school leaders or a team of teachers is working collaboratively within their own department, we are always seeking new ways to improve student achievement. We work closely with families and community partners, providing invaluable educational experiences for students that don’t end once students leave their classrooms.
We teach differently because we know that students learn differently. We find innovative approaches to each lesson and we don’t stop until we know what works. We are striving every day to close the achievement gap in our public schools and have shown strong results on state testing and other measures of success.