Make Unofficial School Choice Into the Real Thing
I stand behind my original solution to the problem posed by Providence residents like Maria Hernandez who send their children to school in Cranston. Instead of focusing on action against Ms. Hernandez, Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey should take the battle directly to the real source of the problem — the Providence school system. Mayor Laffey should find a case involving a Providence resident currently attending school in Cranston and send Providence a bill for $4,000 — the approximate amount of state-aid per-student in Rhode Island — to cover the partial cost of that student.
The deal will be that Cranston will keep the student if Providence is willing to spend its state education aid in Cranston to help a Providence resident. If Providence is unwilling to help its own in this way, then the student will be returned to the Providence school system; then let Providence make the argument that children should be forced to go to bad schools even when other options are available.
Yes, I know that $4,000 doesn’t cover the full cost of educating a student in Cranston, so this ad-hoc arrangement may not be sustainable indefintiely into the future. To make sure that proper precedents are set, Cranston would announce that this is a one-year deal only unless Rhode Island lays the foundation for a statewide school choice program by the beginning of the next school year.