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New charter school support group targets Rhode Island lawmakers

Stop the Wait R.I. is lobbying against legislation that would place a three-year moratorium on the expansion of charter schools

Achievement First charter school is seen Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Providence, R.I.David Goldman/Associated Press

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Happy Tuesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I support Katie Couric to be the permanent host of “Jeopardy!” Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 128,981 confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, after adding 776 new cases since March 5. The most-recent overall daily test-positive rate was 4.3 percent, and the first-time positive rate was 23.6 percent. The state announced eight more deaths, bringing the total to 2,549. There were 133 people in the hospital, and 91,387 residents were fully vaccinated.


A well-funded group of parents and charter school supporters is making plans to aggressively lobby Rhode Island lawmakers against legislation that would place a three-year moratorium on the expansion of charter schools, including the ones that already received initial approval from the state last year.

Stop the Wait RI was formed by Janie Seguí Rodríguez, a Pawtucket resident who lost a Democratic primary for City Council by two votes last year. She said the group has already recruited 440 parents and it plans to focus on the House of Representatives, which has not yet taken up the moratorium bill (the Senate has already approved it).

The group is mailing postcards to voters in several communities, including one to the East Side of Providence that asks constituents to tell House Majority Leader Chris Blazejewski and state Representatives Rebecca Kislak and Edith Ajello that “a ZIP code shouldn’t decide the quality of your education.”

Other mailers are being sent to constituents of Representatives Scott Slater and Ray Hull in Providence, William O’Brien in North Providence, and Jean Philippe Barros in Pawtucket.


”This is the never-ending tale of parents continuously being ignored,” Rodríguez said. She said parents waited more than two hours to testify against the legislation during a Senate hearing earlier this year.

Rodríguez’s children attend schools run by Achievement First, and she works for the organization. She said the new group has been raising money and it initially plans to raise awareness about the bill. She didn’t rule out putting up primary opponents against lawmakers who support the moratorium.

Lawmakers who support a three-year hold on charter school expansion argue that the majority of students still attend traditional public schools, and opening new schools or allowing existing ones to grow siphons resources away from districts. Charter school advocates point to woeful test scores in communities like Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls as evidence that families deserve more choices for where to send their children to school.

In December the state Council on Elementary and Secondary Education backed the plans of three new charter schools to open and the expansion of three others. Over the next 10 years, nearly 6,000 additional students would enroll in the charter schools.


⚓ With contract negotiations stalled, Providence Superintendent Harrison Peters sent an e-mail to all teachers blaming seniority for the reason 79.5 percent of the city’s educators are white. Read more.

⚓ Rhode Island received its first shipment of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week. But only about 190 doses are being reserved for one of Rhode Island’s hardest-to-reach communities: homebound seniors. Read more.


Brian Amaral reports that COVID-19 infections among nursing home residents dipped to about 15 in the past two weeks. That compares to nearly 400 new cases in the last two weeks of December, just as the second wave crested and the vaccinations began. Read more.

⚓ A retired oral surgeon is appealing his conviction of assaulting his Iranian Muslim neighbor in Barrington, and prosecutors will again try to have him sentenced for a hate crime. Read more.


Health: Americans got their first peek Monday at what life may be like in a post-vaccinated world with new federal guidelines that say people who are fully vaccinated can gather privately indoors without masks and without physical distancing. Read more.

Politics: My colleague Liz Goodwin writes that Democrats in Congress and President Joe Biden aren’t on the same page when it comes to their strategies for taking on Republicans in 2022. Read more.

Education: What is college students prefer online classes over in-person learning? Read more.

Sports: It’s becoming clear that the Patriots should go after Jimmy Garoppolo to be their next quarterback. Here’s what a trade might look like. Read more.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.


⚓ Bryant University plays in the Northeast Conference Championship game tonight at 7 against Mount St. Mary’s. The winner goes to the NCAA Tournament.

⚓ Governor Dan McKee will announce his plan to vaccinate teachers at 11:30 a.m.

⚓ Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey and Senator Joshua Miller will roll out their plan to legalize marijuana this afternoon.

⚓ Do you ❤ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here.

Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.