Improving the educational climate in Rhode Island


The current government-run model of a “one size fits all” educational system in Rhode Island is no longer working. In his April 7, 2023 article in the Boston Globe, reporter Dan McGowan demonstrates that current educational options in our larger urban populations are simply not servicing our students. Attendance and graduation rates are poor, while at the same time, students are falling behind national averages in English Language Arts (ELA), science and math. Yet, the Department of Education reports spending almost $2.4 billion this year. Flying in the face of this monstrous cost, the teachers’ union is intimating that more funding is needed to improve programs and to better reward teachers. Currently, R.I. spends $19,000 on average for each pupil. How much more funding is needed? How much longer are we, the citizens of Rhode Island, willing to wait for this purported enhancement?

The General Assembly is currently reviewing six pieces of legislation that would provide funding for school choice initiatives in RI.  Below is a brief synopsis:

House Bill 5637 — Bright Today Scholarship and Open Enrollment Act

This bill would allow parents of K- 12 students to use open enrollment to choose any public school in RI for their child and allow monies to be used for non-public school tuition or tutoring.

House Bill 5638 — Language Academies Act

This bill would allow that a portion of a school be a designated learning area for students who can’t obtain English language proficiency. Also allows for a tutorial program if building space is not available.

House Bill 5774 — Failing School Choice Act

This bill would allow any child in a failing school which is within the bottom 15% of public schools in RI to enroll in any other public school with available capacity.

House Bill 5858 — Failing School Choice Act with Education Savings Account (ESA)

This bill would allow any child in a failing school which is within the bottom 15% of public schools in R.I. to be allowed to enroll in any other public school with available capacity plus this bill allows monies for an ESA to be used for tutoring or other expenses.

House Bill 5795 — Education Savings Account

This bill would allow the State to establish an individual tax-exempt ESA which families could also contribute into for tutoring, tuition, materials, technology and other educational support.

House Bill 5804 — Tax Credits for Contributions to Scholarship Organizations

This bill would allow for an increase to the existing corporate tax credit program from $1.5 million to $5.0 million dollars which would enable thousands of economically challenged students to afford tuition at a school of their choice.

It’s time for Rhode Islanders to become proactively involved. Please contact your local representative and inform that person that you want the General Assembly to pass these bills.   Let’s collaborate to break the mold of relegated education and truly empower families to select an educational option that suits their child. 

Ed Bastia serves as a member of Rhode Island Families for School Choice, an advocacy group of volunteers who believe that RI parents remain the primary educators of their children and should be financially empowered to select the best quality educational program available regardless of family address, income or any other demographics. Visit