Having recently reviewed the September 2012 issue’s article about the top high schools in Rhode Island, I find that it does not accurately reflect the true state of education here in the Ocean State and gives your readers a false sense of accomplishment by the Rhode Island public education community as a whole [“High School Report Card”].
Had you included the numerous private schools around the state, one may come to realize that the quality of public education both from a cost per pupil standpoint as well as a graduation or test scores standpoint versus these private schools leaves a lot to be desired.
I certainly realize that these private schools have the pick of the litter and can ensure their continued output of high-quality students based on that practice, but when one looks at the cost of education per student, one has to ask: How is it that these schools can educate such a higher grade of students at the same or less cost per pupil and provide such exemplary extra-curricular activities that often far exceed those offered at public institutions?
Is it truly the failure of the educational system as a whole, or a failure of the support network that students get at home? Education only starts in school and without parental support, encouragement and discipline, students will struggle to excel and ultimately cause the public school figures to be that much different than those typical of private schools.
It is truly sad that the taxpayers in each and every town within Rhode Island have to settle for mediocrity. When one looks at the figures for a town like Central Falls, costing almost $20,000 per year with a graduation rate of 71 percent and student/teacher ratios that are lower than most private schools, doesn’t one start to ask: What are we getting for our money?
I believe that the presentation of the data leads readers to believe that the forty traditional public school districts listed in your “High School Report Card” represent all of the public schools in Rhode Island [September]. In addition to these schools, there are more than half a dozen public charter high schools in cities and towns across the state. Charter schools educate thousands of public school students in Rhode Island and many charters outperform traditional schools.
In fact, my school, Beacon Charter High School for the Arts in Woonsocket, ranks third in Rhode Island in mathematics (as measured by the state-mandated NECAP tests) and in the top ten in reading and writing. We have outperformed most of the public schools in Rhode Island in these critical areas.
To present the top high schools in Rhode Island and not mention public charter schools, especially when you feature an elementary/middle charter school in a piece on the pages preceding the list, is misleading and not reflective of the quality of public charter schools.
Michael Skeldon, Ed.D.
Principal, Beacon Charter High School for the Arts
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