A Regent for One Reason
Marc’s already posted on the topic, and I’m admittedly playing catch-up in my daily reading routine, but having read George Caruolo’s declaration of the not-badness of Rhode Island schools (and the consequent no-rushism of the probable chairman of the state Board of Regents), I have to offer additional comment. What’s striking, given the prominence of the position for which he’s been nominated and the time that has elapsed since he first agreed to take the position, is that he does not, apparently, feel the need to substantiate his controversial opinion:
George Caruolo, a savvy former politician who has been appointed by Governor Chafee to lead the state’s top education board, has his own take on the State of Rhode Island’s $2-billion-a-year public school system.
It’s not that bad, he says. …
Caruolo, the father of four children, all of whom have attended East Providence’s schools, is also not convinced that the demands of a high-tech, 21st-century economy require that students be educated to higher levels than ever before. …
Caruolo doesn’t believe that the state’s public schools are in crisis, despite the fact they continue to trail other New England states by most achievement measures. And, while Rhode Island claims among the highest per-pupil costs and teacher salaries, the state lands in the middle of the pack nationally.
The notion of a crisis hasn’t been a quick and unsubstantiated whim of public temper. As I’ve put it previously, Rhode Island joins an average median income with high (budget-busting) public school teacher pay, high private school attendance, low public school SAT scores, and high private school SAT scores. Education researchers regularly give the state poor grades for a variety of reasons, and our comparison with other states on standardized tests is not commensurate with our investment, especially considering that we share many of the regional qualities of the neighboring state, Massachusetts, that regularly tops all of the rankings in which we lag.
Caruolo’s one purpose, as a Regent, (and Chafee’s main purpose as governor) appears to be to gum up the process of reform so that teachers’ unions can find ways to lock in more advantages for themselves and turn back the clock on progress.