RI Legislature Approves Mayoral Academies: Guest Blog by Will Sedlack and Ben Wrobel

Blogs, Letters & Testimonials

June 19, 2008

Late last night, the Rhode Island Legislature approved (41-30) a groundbreaking "Mayoral Academies" bill, which will allow mayors to bring high-performing public schools like KIPP and Achievement First to their communities. DFER interns Ben Wrobel and Will Sedlack were in Rhode Island on Tuesday for a rally in favor of this historic legislation.  Below they offer their insights on the rally:

Students, legislators, activists and concerned citizens met Tuesday in the Rhode Island State House for a Press Conference to discuss the future of the Mayoral Academies Bill.

Rhode Island Board of Regents member Angus Davis introduced the various guests including Mayor McKee of Cumberland, RI; Ramon Martinez of Progresso Latino; Chace Baptista of Young Voices; and Seth Andrew of the Democracy Prep Charter School in New York City.

Students from Cumberland, RI were sprinkled around the crowd after rushing to get to Providence after taking finals, and their presence heightened everyone’s concern for the need to pass bill H-7874.

This is an important piece of legislation and a step in the right direction for the Rhode Island school system, which is one of the weakest in the country. Clearly, the status quo has failed both the students in the system and the state, which has come to expect consistently low results and has little room to maneuver, thanks to a strict charter school law. With the passage of H-7874, Mayoral Academies will provide students with a progressive alternative to the current system.

Seth Andrew spoke about the success he has had with the Democracy Prep Charter School (DPCS), which he founded in Harlem. Andrew announced that DPCS had an 89 percent proficiency level. Davis noted that if DPCS was in Rhode Island, it would be ranked first of all the schools in the state, and would even be above the schools in East Greenwich.

The passage of this bill marks a watershed moment in the history of Education Reform in the United States, and we expect great things to come out of Rhode Island in the coming years as they have proven themselves a leader in education.