Letter: Let the numbers prove why ‘school choice’ is so important

Posted 7/24/20

Erich Haslehurst wrote a letter objecting to a group called Concerned Citizens — the issue that is paramount for Bristol’s taxpayers is his mis-characterization of charter schools. Erich …

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Letter: Let the numbers prove why ‘school choice’ is so important

Posted

Erich Haslehurst wrote a letter objecting to a group called Concerned Citizens — the issue that is paramount for Bristol’s taxpayers is his mis-characterization of charter schools. Erich said that the phrase “educational choices” … “is code for wanting to dismantle the public school structure and replace it with charter schools, leading to the reestablishment of de facto segregation in our system.”

That is absolutely not true! The Democratic Party has come out against charter schools because the party is beholden to teachers’ unions, who funnel millions of dollars from dues-paying teachers into supporting the Democratic Party.

The need for charter schools is the civil rights issue of today — many more poor, disadvantaged and minority children are trying to get into charter schools than there are places for them, because our politicians defend the poorly performing public schools instead of reforming them. Instead of talking about the national issue of our sub-standard public schools, let’s focus on Bristol:

• Only 42 percent of Colt Andrews students meet or exceed expectations in math in the third grade and 63 percent are proficient in English.

• Guiteras students are 57 percent proficient in third-grade English and 51 percent proficient in math … It does improve to 64 percent in English and 63 percent in math by the fifth grade.

• Rockwell is the best performing elementary school, with 91 percent of students meeting or exceeding English expectations and 79 percent meeting math proficiency in the third grade.

• The wheels really come off the bus at Kickemuit Middle School, with only 30.6 percent of those students proficient in math and 51 percent proficient in English.

• In the 11th grade at Mt. Hope H.S., 68 percent of students are proficient in English and only 40 percent proficient in math.

So Bristol spends more than 50 percent ($27.855 million) of its tax dollars on a school system in which 60 percent reach the 11th grade without being proficient in math and more than 30 percent are not proficient in English. Why is that not a crisis? Why does Bristol tolerate this poor performance?

Contrast Bristol Warren’s lack of achievement to the results of Achievement First, a charter school in Cranston with children from poverty-stricken backgrounds who won the lottery to get into the school, that outperforms even Barrington. So poor and minority children are not stupid — they are just not being taught effectively.

Despite having a majority of very poor and minority students, Achievement First expects its students to work hard and master their subjects — they spend more days in school and have longer school days.

How do their scores and cost per student compare to Bristol? Achievement First Illuminar Mayoral Academy has 462 students and 35 teachers. In third grade, 67.25 percent meet or exceed expectations in English and 87 percent meet or exceed expectations in math. Bristol has a total of 875 students in our three elementary schools and 95 teachers, so smaller classes and much lower achievement, particularly in math.

Bristol Warren spends more than $14,000 per student for our elementary students; Achievement First spends $11,582. Where would you like to send your third-grader?

Gina Georgina Macdonald
Bristol

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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.