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RISC calls for McWalters's head

As another part of its elevated public advocacy, the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition (RISC) is today calling for the resignation of Peter McWalters, commissioner of the Rhode Island Department of Education:

In a letter addressed to all members of the Rhode Island Board of Regents, the officers and directors of RISC cited The Institute for a Competitive Workforce of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, entitled “Leaders and Laggards, a State-By-State Report Card on Educational Effectiveness”.  The nationally recognized study, in which Rhode Island’s educational performance is compared to that of the 49 other states and the District of Columbia, was a devastating indictment of Rhode Island’s educational effectiveness (The study is available at the RISC web site, www.risc-ri.org). 

Harry Staley, RISC President, notes that in the 15 years McWalters has occupied his position, school and student underachievement has worsened, despite public releases from RIDE that performance is improving.  Staley says, “Instead of the truth, what we hear are comparisons of student performance within Rhode Island that continually claim that student achievement is ‘improving’ and that a significant number of our schools are ‘high performing’.  By now, such claims must be dismissed as simply a self-promoting cover-up for McWalters’ failure to produce even mediocre results.  Mr. McWalters has painted a false picture of the quality of education our students are receiving.”

RISC’s letter to the Board of Regents emphasizes that, in the face of such a poor record of achievement, McWalters has failed to craft a plan of action that would change the direction of the State’s educational program.  “Rather than bold, innovative leadership for change,” it says, “we hear nothing but vague platitudes that ‘things are getting better’.  How long must we wait for the kind of results one would expect in a state where the taxpayers are paying the fifth highest property taxes in the United States?”

Staley further notes, “The future belongs to those who are prepared to compete for jobs in the world marketplace, not just the nation, and certainly not just in Rhode Island.  We are not preparing our children to compete in that world, and the time for excuses is over.”  RISC calls for the Board of Regents to identify and bring to Rhode Island a new Education Commissioner who will be capable of meeting the state’s enormous educational challenge.  “Nothing less,” Staley says, “will serve the needs of our children.”

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