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It’s a big day for charter schools in Rhode Island

In this March 7, 2020, photo, Achievement First charter school is seen 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 my NCAA Tournament bracket is officially busted. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 134,039 confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, after adding 885 new cases since March 19. The most-recent overall daily test-positive rate was 4.4 percent, and the first-time positive rate was 21.4 percent. The state announced nine more deaths, bringing the total to 2,604. There were 118 people in the hospital, and 169,381 residents were fully vaccinated.


The House Finance Committee is preparing for a marathon hearing Tuesday on a bill that would impose a three-year moratorium on the expansion or opening of new charter schools, even as Governor Dan McKee is threatening to veto the bill.

This time, charter school advocates are coming with polling data.ALG Research, the firm that polled for President Joe Biden during his campaign last year, released survey data that shows 53 percent of Rhode Island voters support increasing the number of charter schools in the state, while 32 percent oppose an expansion. (You can read the crosstabs here.)

Interestingly, while the political debate over charter schools is often portrayed as a fight for or against teachers’ unions, it turns out that real people have a far more nuanced view of the situation.

Voters showed broad support for public schools (60 percent favorable/29 percent unfavorable), public charter schools (55 percent favorable/21 percent unfavorable), and teachers’ unions (51 percent favorable/29 percent unfavorable).

It’s worth remembering that charter schools are public schools, but the polling firm chose to ask separate questions about public schools, charter schools, and public charter schools, presumably because not everyone understands how charter schools are funded.


One point of concern for everyone: the poll shows that 43 percent of voters believe public education is heading in the right direction in Rhode Island, but 42 percent believe it’s on the wrong track. That’s something Governor McKee will want to monitor over the next year.

The cell phone and telephone poll of 650 registered voters was conducted March 11 through March 16. It was paid for by Stop the Wait RI, a nonprofit that is advocating for the expansion of charter schools.

The charter moratorium bill has already been approved by the Senate, but House leadership hasn’t quite been as adamant about passing it. One sticking point is that it would apply to schools that were already given initial approval to open by the state last year, which is why McKee has threatened a veto.

Several hundred residents have already signed up to testify during tonight’s hearing, so you can bet that it will run late into the night. It will likely begin around 5 p.m., and you can watch here.


Brian Amaral looks at the debate over Rhode Island’s “hospital of last resort.” Read more.

⚓ If you live in the ZIP codes 02904, 02905, 02907, 02908, or 02909 in Providence and are age 18 or older, you can sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine. Read more.


⚓ How Plant City X has managed to thrive during the pandemic. Read more.

Amanda Milkovits reports that the Rhode Island Department of Health is telling nursing homes and assisted living facilities that it expects them to provide visitation for residents — and health officials will take action to make sure the facilities comply. Read more.

⚓ After sending an email to its 415,000 members last week indicating that it would end its no-cost coverage of treatment for COVID-19 on March 31, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island announced Monday that it has reversed course. Read more.

⚓ Former Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Frank Flaherty has been hired as a mediator in the dispute between the state and the Providence Teachers Union. Read more.


Politics I: Marty Walsh was confirmed as US labor secretary on Monday. Here’s his farewell op-ed to Boston residents. Read more.

Politics II: Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey writes that it’s a new day for New England’s largest city. Read more.

Health: Results from a U.S. trial of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine may have included “outdated information” and that could mean the company provided an incomplete view of efficacy data, American federal health officials said early Tuesday. Read more.

Education: Boston school officials announced on Monday they will seek state approval to delay a return of full-time in-person learning in its elementary schools until April 26. 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.

⚓ At 9 a.m., the Rhode Island Department of Health will open 4,000 more COVID-19 appointments at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. You can sign up here.

⚓ The House of Representatives is widely expected to approve legislation that will make the state’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions mandatory and enforceable.

⚓ The Senate will take up David Cruise’s nomination to be a Superior Court justice this afternoon. There’s also a vote scheduled on the Senate rules for the current legislative session. You can read the full agenda here.

⚓ 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.