Statement from Commissioner Wagner on Achievement First and proposals for charter expansion

RI – In response to our request for proposals, the R.I. Department of Education (RIDE) received a number of applications to open new charter public schools or to expand enrollment in existing charters. We will immediately begin review of the proposals received by the required deadline.

Recently there have been stories in the media about the expansion request submitted to RIDE by the Achievement First Providence Mayoral Academy.

The majority of Achievement First students reside in the Providence school district, and we recognize that the teachers in Providence are dedicated professionals who love their students and want what’s best for them. We need to support and empower teachers in district schools, as well as the students and families who work with educators each day to advance teaching and learning.

Yet we are also aware that almost 15,000 children who live in Providence are enrolled in a struggling school identified, as required by state and federal law, for intensive intervention.

Many families in Providence remain on waiting lists to enroll their children in charter public schools and private schools. Last year, I met with a group of parents who created a year-long prayer group asking for one thing: success for their children in a charter lottery.

While we work together to improve student outcomes in Providence district schools, we also need to make sure that those who ask for choice have options, including high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs, dual and concurrent early college enrollment opportunities, and public charter schools.

We will review the Achievement First and all other proposals in this context, consistent with the law.

The period for public comment on all requests for new charters and charter expansions opened on Friday and remains open through November 29.

– Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education