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

A little over a year ago I embarked on what has turned into the greatest journey of my life.

I was a mom-turned-advocate who realized through my struggle to get a great education for my daughter that I wasn’t alone: there were thousands of parents across the state whose children were also being failed by Rhode Island’s public schools.

So in December 2010 I became the head of a new organization that would stand up for kids and their families and demand great public schools for all.

I am grateful for everyone who joined me this year to build RI-CAN. A movement of one would never have succeeded in bringing the high-expectations Achievement First Mayoral Academy public charter school to our state.

The recent ‘yes’ vote on Achievement First is a huge win for Rhode Island kids. And it’s also the very first victory for RI-CAN’s 2012 campaign, which I’m honored to announce today: The Rising Tide.

As John F Kennedy, Jr. famously said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” The Rising Tide campaign seeks to lift all boats in Rhode Island classrooms with three research-backed initiatives:

  • Put Achievement First. Give Rhode Island kids a great public school option. (Check!)
  • Success Schools. Remove obstacles to implementing proven strategies for success in our schools.
  • Prize Talented Teachers. Reform Rhode Island’s school staffing policies.

Our campaign is already off to a great start with the Achievement First victory, and now it’s time to turn our attention to the work that lies ahead. Removing obstacles in our traditional public schools to implementing the proven strategies that high-performing schools have discovered is key to transforming education across the state. And making sure that we’re using commonsense in our hiring, layoffs, promotions and all other staffing policies could not be more important.

Visit to find out more about our goals and learn how you can help lift all boats in Rhode Island classrooms.

–Maryellen Butke, RI-CAN executive director


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