Beth Milne is a past member of the 50CAN team. 

Earlier this year, RI-CAN launched the Modern Funding for Modern Schools campaign to ensure that our students have smart funding for their schools. With our partners, we asked advocates to urge lawmakers to fully fund our student-centered funding formula and expand access to full-day kindergarten across the state. Now it’s time to find out how we did.

We began the year with the release of our third annual “The State of Public Education in Rhode Island” report. Peering inside our public schools, the report highlights a few promising pockets of success, but also stagnant levels of student achievement and large achievement gaps.

From there, our 2013 campaign focused on the notion that funding for our 21st-century schools needs to be student-centered and focused on supporting high-quality opportunities for all kids.

  • Starting right – a win! With our partners and advocates like you, we urged lawmakers to allocate funds to the Full Day Kindergarten Accessibility Act. These dollars will assist districts in their creation and start-up of full-day K programs. Studies show that kids who enroll in full-day kindergarten are more prepared for first grade than peers who enroll in half-day programs. I’m happy to report that despite the fiscal challenges facing the state, legislators appropriated $300,000 to this critical issue. We’ll continue to rally for expanded access in the coming years to ensure 100 percent of students have the opportunity to attend full-day kindergarten.
  • Staying true – a win! In the last two years, the General Assembly laid the groundwork to balance longstanding inequalities in our schools by passing a new funding formula. In order to maintain our student-centered funding, RI-CAN worked with partners to advocate for a third year of implementation–and legislators delivered. With an additional $32 million in state aid for schools, the FY14 budget continues to fulfill the promise of equitably funding our schools and the students they serve.

We’re thrilled to see the commitment from lawmakers to give schools a modern system of funding. During another year of hard financial decisions, we thank the General Assembly for staying the course and investing in education.

But we all know the battle for great schools isn’t won in a single year — or even two. Thankfully, more and more Rhode Islanders are pledging to stand up for great schools. Stay tuned to hear more about the work we’ll be doing in the summer and fall to prepare for our 2014 advocacy work. United, we must continue pushing for policies that will help give every child access to a great public school.


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