Editorial: Education is a civil right

Posted 11/1/19

Barrington has been home to the premiere school district in Rhode Island for decades. This newspaper has felled a forest of trees celebrating the incredible accomplishments of this district, its …

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Editorial: Education is a civil right


Barrington has been home to the premiere school district in Rhode Island for decades. This newspaper has felled a forest of trees celebrating the incredible accomplishments of this district, its students and its teachers, and the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System test scores released last week provide another opportunity for celebration and pride.

Once again, Barrington is the best, and it’s not really close. In Barrington, 73 percent of students are meeting expectations in Language Arts (next-closest is East Greenwich at 64 percent), and 65 percent are meeting expectations in Math (next-closest is Jamestown at 60 percent).

So take a bow.

But don’t celebrate for long. The Rhode Island public educational system is broken, and it is incumbent upon everyone — Barrington included — to care. Why? Because an entire generation of Rhode Island children is growing up with a sub-standard education, herded into schools where failure is commonplace, before “graduating” after 13 years less prepared for successful adulthoods than they deserve to be.

Across Rhode Island, the test scores are bleak. A vast majority of students — 62 percent in Language Arts and 70 percent in Mathematics — are failing to meet expectations. And because education is cumulative, with each grade’s curriculum building upon the foundation of previous years, the gap between performance and expectations widens every year.

Why does this matter in a high-achieving community like Barrington? Because Barrington residents should care about all these children growing up without a decent education. They will be the future labor force for Rhode Island businesses, decision-makers in government agencies, and providers in the region’s medical facilities, schools and professional organizations. Within the next 20 years, they will impact every aspect of everyday life in Rhode Island, affecting quality of life, tax burdens and property values everywhere.

Whether they have children in school or not, whether they live on Rumstick Point or Riverside, every Rhode Island resident should care about public education in Rhode Island and demand accountability from:

• The state’s single teachers’ union — an outdated monopoly that handcuffs districts financially while suffocating management rights.

• The new commissioner of education, who is so far sending the right messages about demanding better results.

• Political leaders — most of whom won office last November talking about everything but public education.

• The governor — who has three years left to make a lasting impact on Rhode Island schools.

Public education is a right that belongs to every child, in every Rhode Island community. Do not sit idle and let an entire generation be denied that right.

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Meet our staff
Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.