An incredible power of vision is what Rhode Island needs now more than ever to propel itself from the middle of state rankings to be the top performing public school system in the country—and to be a place where low-income students and students of color are assured equal access to high-quality educational opportunities. Currently, fewer than 20 percent of Rhode Island’s low-income eighth graders are proficient in reading and math on the Nation’s Report Card. That number is 18 percent for Rhode Island’s black and Latino students in reading and 44 percent for white students, compared to much higher numbers in neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut. If Rhode Island is to remain economically competitive in the region, we must dramatically transform our education system.
We need to fundamentally reimagine the learning experience in the Ocean State, rethink how we deliver education and make it accessible and reexamine how we structure policies to support those efforts. Students currently enrolled have grown up in a fast-paced, technologically driven environment and future generations will be even more connected to the world around them. What should an education system look like for children born in 2015 who will enter preschool in three years, kindergarten in five, and graduate from high school with the class of 2034?
If we commit ourselves today to transforming the educational system for ALL of our students, through the lens of what’s possible for the class of 2034, then anything is possible for Rhode Island.