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FOR THE BIRDS, AND MOSTLY THE CHILDREN TOO

A Rhode Island Proposal

According to a 66-page report released Monday by the business-backed Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, which analyzes government spending.

Continue to focus on improving elementary and secondary schools, using as a guide the state’s new Basic Education Plan

Cut costs. This could include regional collaborations, cost-sharing and controlling growth in teachers’ benefits.

Implement a statewide school financing formula.

Use data to raise student achievement and ensure districts are spending money wisely and getting results.

Rhode Island ranks fifth nationally in per-pupil expenditure while yielding mediocre test results and achievements levels significantly lower than the rest of New England.

Other points of note:

Rhode Island is the only state without a funding formula.

Rhode Island has a higher level of poverty than all other New England states, except Maine.

Rhode Island continues to have one of the highest proportions of students receiving special education services: 18.2 percent this year compared with a national average of about 11 percent.

Students who dropped out of Rhode Island high schools in 2008 will end up costing the state $955 million in lost wages over their lifetimes — the difference in earning potential between high school graduates and dropouts.

Lack of a funding formula generally contributes to more power in and dependence on politics. Considering also these parameters of high poverty, special education needs and a compounded drop out effect, is it fair – and even possible – to expect economies of scale in the push for cost-saving measures in education?

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Filed under: Contingency Plans, EDUCATION

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