Guest MINDSETTER™ Oliveira: Sen. Sheehan’s False Assertions
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Guest Mindsetter commentary of Senator James Sheehan regarding his legislation (2018- S 2816), in which he suggests that our Rhode Island charter schools are not transparent or held accountable for their performance. I recently testified against his bill before the Senate Education Committee to debunk these false notions.
First, Sen. Sheehan perpetuates the false notion that charter schools are “privately-run” schools despite the fact that he knows otherwise. Charter schools are, in fact, public schools for the same reason that district schools are public. Charter schools receive their authority to deliver public education from the General Assembly through Title 16 of the R.I. General Laws. Thus, charter Schools are Local Education Authorities (LEA’s) just as local school districts. To suggest that a local district school board should have a designated seat on a charter school board is tantamount to suggesting that the South Kingstown School Committee should have a designated seat on the North Kingstown School Committee, which is just nonsense.
Second, charter schools are held accountable with far greater scrutiny and due diligence than any local district school. Charter schools are authorized for a specific period, usually 3 to 5 years. In order to maintain its public school authority, charter schools must demonstrate high-quality academic performance and organizational stability to both the R.I. Department of Education and the R.I. Council of Elementary and Secondary Education, which authorizes their charter. Among the factors they consider are the charter school’s academic outcomes, organizational soundness; regulatory compliance; and its fiscal health and stability. The charter reauthorization process is thorough and intensive and to suggest that charter schools are not held accountable for their performance is just plain false.
Sen. Sheehan also falsely suggests that our charter schools are not transparent. As public authorities, charter schools are held to the same public disclosure standards as any other public body – including local school districts. Charter schools are subject to the R.I. Open Meetings laws. Their meetings are open to the public and their meeting agendas and minutes are posted to the Secretary of State’s website for public disclosure. Charters are also subject to all public records laws and all school information, including financial information (budgets, audits, etc.) must be made available and disclosed to the public. Charter schools are just as transparent as any public body is expected to be. To suggest otherwise is, again, just plain false.
One of the things that Sen. Sheehan conveniently leaves out of his commentary is the performance outcomes of our charter schools. What matters most to local taxpayers regarding our public schools (including charter public schools) is are they performing? As a sector, Rhode Island has some of the highest performing charter schools in the country. Our Rhode Island charter schools are diverse and innovative; academically high performing; organizationally sound and compliant with all regulatory mandates; and they are financially well managed and fiscally stable. The Rhode Island taxpaying public is getting exactly what they are investing in despite Sen. Sheehan’s false assertions.
Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017
Rhode Island General Election Voters Margin of Error: +/- 4.9% at 95% Confidence Level
Interviewing Period: October 9-11, 2017
Mode: Landline (61%) and Mobile (39%)
Telephone Directed by: John Della Volpe, SocialSphere, Inc.
When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?
Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?
Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...
Definitely be voting: 78%
Probably be voting: 13%
In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?
Right track: 39%
Wrong track: 45%
Don't know/Refused: .6%
What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?
Jobs and economy: 21%
State budget: 9%
Corruption/Public integrity: .8%
Don’t know: .9%
Over the past three years or so, would you say the economy in Rhode Island has improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?
Changed for the better: 35%
Changed for the worse: 16%
Not changed at all: 43%
Don't know/Refused: 5%
Over the same time, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?
Changed for the better: 26%
Changed for the worse: 19%
Not changed at all: 54%
Don't know/Refused: 1%
Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?
Net: Approve: 28%
Definitely approve: 15%
Probably approve: 14%
Net: Reject: 67%
Probably reject: 19%
Definitely reject: 48%
Don't know: 4%
Could you please tell me your age?
Don't know/refused: 1%
What was the last grade you completed in school?
High school grad: 16%
Technical/Vocational school: 1%
Some college: 23%
College grad: 34%
Graduate degree: 24%
Don't know/refused: 1%
The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).
$50,000 or less: 27%
More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%
More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%
More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%
$150,000 or more: 13%
Don't know/refused: 17%
What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?
Black or African American: 6%
Would you say that Donald Trump has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as President?
Never heard of: 0%
Cannot rate: 3%
Would you say that Jack Reed has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 6%
Would you say that Sheldon Whitehouse has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 7%
Would you say that David Cicilline has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 8%
Would you say that James Langevin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 11%
Would you say that Gina Raimondo has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Governor?
Never heard of: 1%
Cannot rate: 3%
Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?
Never heard of: 26%
Cannot rate: 25%
Would you say that Peter Kilmartin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Attorney General?
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 19%
Would you say that Seth Magaziner has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as General Treasurer?
Never heard of: 21%
Cannot rate: 21%
Would you say that Nellie Gorbea has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Secretary of State?
Never heard of: 20%
Cannot rate: 23%
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