RI General Assembly bills we’re following

S863; S864; S865; S866; S867; S868; S869; H5008; H5887; H6084; H6085; H6086; H6098; H6099; H6100

House and Senate leadership introduced a package of “education reform legislation” on May 10th.You can link to the full text of the bills above or take a look at our Education Legislation Tracker for a bit of top line information. We met with a coalition of community organizations to determine our position on these bills, and testified on them on May 15th.

ProvParents Testimony on Education Reform package - May 15th

We are excited to see energy and momentum around education reform - like you we feel a sense of urgency around the state of education for our kids - and ALL kids. It is important, however, that urgency does not come at the cost of thoughtfulness and intentionality. We are concerned about a process that is so rushed that the public doesn’t have a chance to weigh in and push all of our leaders’ thinking to make these bills better.

So we ask you, as you consider these bills, to imagine our children, and especially the children of Providence, right next to you. Then ask yourselves:

  • How exactly will this bill effect Providence, especially given that the state is currently conducting a review of the entire district?

  • What will this bill do to address issues of equity and gaps in achievement?

  • How does this bill help teachers be better trained and more effective? How will it help ensure that not only students but also teachers are in school every day?

  • How does this bill remove barriers to people of color becoming teachers so that we have more culturally responsive classrooms?

  • How will this bill help provide resources and funding in the places that need it most, particularly to address gaps in quality programming for multilingual learners?

  • How will this bill enable the system to address the culture of low expectations that exists in too many of our schools?

  • How does this bill give parents a real seat at the table?

There is a moment right now when we could set RI up for stronger, more equitable schools that serve all our kids better. Let’s make sure we get it right.

H5553 At our meetings, parents have made clear they’d like to see more teachers of color in Providence’s classrooms. This statewide bill (press release HERE) proposes creating a state-wide commission to study how to do that. Based on discussion with partners and our own review, we’d like to see this bill include more commitment to concrete action so it doesn’t end up being a mere “study.” Read our testimony HERE.

H5426 and H5887 both address the need for strong instruction in early reading skills and early identification of dyslexia, which are hot topics these days (see NPR piece Why Millions of Kids Can’t Read and What Better Teaching Can Do About It.) The bills take varying approaches to requiring elementary teachers to be proficient in the science of reading.

H 5437 and S 0512 would impact negotiations around teacher contracts by requiring that all the provisions in the previous contract stay in place until there is a new agreement. Read more in ProJo articles HERE and HERE and an editorial HERE. We connected with the Providence Teachers Union and people on the other side of the debate asking, “What’s best for kids, families and academic achievement?”