An island of excellence

While the 2004 moratorium on new Rhode Island charters expired last June, it's taken months longer for state dollars to catch up. The Ocean State currently has a paltry 11 charters serving 3,100 students--and the waiting list to get in is almost as long. The good news is that Governor Carcieri has put $1.5 million for new charters into his 2009-2010 budget, including some funds for a home grown charter variation: mayoral academies. These schools were cooked up by the mayor of Cumberland, RI, Daniel McKee, in response to accusations that RI charters are charter-lite, with very little autonomy. State charter law subjects principals to a host of rules and regulations, which means they have little control over teacher salaries, retirement policies, and tenure. McKee's network of mayoral academies, which draw students from regions rather than municipalities, will be free from these stipulations. With a green light from the legislature, let's hope the reform rubber is finally on the Rhode.

"Charter schools compete for financing," by Jennifer D. Jordan, Providence Journal, April 13, 2009