• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • States Make Strides in School Choice While D.C. Gets Left Behind


    School districts and legislatures in Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Virginia are demonstrating a commitment to greater educational opportunities for students and families by challenging the status quo of mediocre and failing public schools.

    While many East Coast states spent the weekend focused on snow removal, the town of Central Falls, Rhode Island focused on the removal of almost 100 teachers from one of the state’s worst performing schools. Superintendent Frances Gallo will fire all Central Falls High School teachers after union leaders refused proposed reforms that included increasing the school day by 25 minutes, requiring teachers to eat lunch with students once a week, and mandatory teacher training and planning sessions outside of school hours.

    Gallo was prepared to pay $30 an hour for the two weeks of summer training and $30 an hour, pending grant acquisition, for weekly, 90-minute teacher meetings to discuss student academic achievement. The Central Falls Teacher Union, however, rejected the changes, citing a lack of monetary compensation. Central Falls High School, located in a low-income district and perennially plagued by low test scores, currently pays its teachers $72,000- $78,000 annually. Defending her decision to fire all the high school’s teachers, with the option of later rehiring up to half, Gallo also demonstrated a commitment to providing a quality education rather than maintaining the status quo of ineffectual schools:

    ‘We have a graduation rate of 48 percent. I have 19-year-olds in classes with 14-year-olds. It’s the middle of the school year and 50 percent of the students at the high school are failing all of their classes,’ Gallo said. ‘We need these changes so we can move from where we are to where we need to be for the health and safety of the whole state. We have to meet these students where they are, bring these students up and lift the bar.’

    Placing the academic needs of students above the demands of interest groups and traditional bureaucratic structures is a trend influencing many school administrators and state legislatures across the country. New Jersey assemblywomen Mila Jasey and Joan Voss, both Democrats, have introduced an open enrollment measure that would allow families the opportunity to choose a public school based on educational quality rather than zip code. Similarly, the Virginia legislature is expected to vote on proposals to establish virtual schools and increase the number of charter schools in the state.

    Unlike Rhode Island, New Jersey, Virginia, and many other states that have opted for reform and school choice, Washington, D.C. can afford no such luxury to the thousands of students both enrolled and eligible for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship. Even though students in the District’s voucher system have shown increased achievement and experienced greater safety, the academic opportunities provided by the scholarship are continually sacrificed at the altar of political expediency. While the rest of America continues the path to educational equality, children in the nation’s capital are being relegated to the failing status quo.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to States Make Strides in School Choice While D.C. Gets Left Behind

    1. Greg Markle, Marylan says:

      Once education becomes a big national issue I know that our viewpoint will absolutely dominate the liberal viewpoint. I have seen Anderson Cooper, liberals on MSNBC, and the Washington Post agree with us and call out the teacher's unions for not caring at all about the kids.

      When 50% of students are failing all their classes clearly…. 99% of teachers should keep their jobs……… that's the teacher's union position.

      I would rather socialize grocery stores or book stores or movie theaters than the most important part of our society – education. If every child has a right to a good education then every parent MUST have a right to change their child's school when they aren't receiving a good education! Otherwise, "equal opportunity" is a sham.

    2. Ruth McRae Michigan says:

      I looked at the movie, Let us rise. Yes this is what the parents, children and leaders must do. God gave to all parents the responsibility and authority to train their child/children (Proverbs 22:6). Which means starting in the home, and then the right to choose what school the child should attend, which will properly compliment and support the home training.

      We, in Michigan wnet through the same fight for school choice. The charter schools and public schools won . Due to the ignorance and deception that was exhibited to the parents and leaders.

      But the fight is not over, we must rise again, we are losing our children daily, while folks who do not care, sit back and take away the choices of our childre.

      i and my husband were educators in the private school sector for 25 years, we raised two children in the private school. I thank God and if you ask my children whether they are thankful. They will gladly share their gratefulness.

      So, yes I would love to take a stand for the schools in our community. Is there someone you can put me in contact with?

      Thank you, I will be praying that righteous prevail for our children, all over this nation. One prayer prayed in faith can change our President too.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.