Some of the most valuable experiences that impacted my life revolve around my education. I can remember all of the teachers who willingly stayed after school ensuring their students understood the lessons that would prove valuable in their future. I remember the school dances, clubs and functions. As a student athlete, I learned the lessons of hard work, dedication, and determination on the practice field. The best times of my life, both challenging and inspiring, occurred during my high school experience, which paved the path for 13 successful years in the professional field, an MBA and soon to be a doctorate. I will attest to the value my public education had in my life, and the RIGOP will work hard to ensure this same value is a virtual right for every child.
Sadly, our education is not what it used to be. It is no longer about teachers and parents working together for the benefit of their children; it has transformed into a battle among politicians, special interests and lawyers to determine who will control the massive $2.3B of total expenditures spent on RI public schools. All one has to do is look at the millions of dollars taken out of a school budget for legal expenses. These are taxpayer dollars that could be spent on books and supplies, yet instead it goes into the pockets of lawyers. This is not an educational design that focuses on children first.
The infusion of political cronyism in our school system makes the work of our dedicated teachers extremely difficult. Politicians offer teachers false promises in order to gain finances and support from the teachers unions, and because there was never enough money to pay for these promises, teachers are left with compromised retirement packages. Laws and restrictions are even preventing teachers from teaching effectively. In some towns, if a teacher wants to stay after school to help students who are challenged by the instructions, she is restricted to the day and amount of time she is allowed to offer due to union contracts. If it is about the children, then why are contracts limiting the amount of time a teacher can provide a struggling student? This system is not only unfair for the students, it is unfair for the teachers as well.
The RIGOP believes the best education system is one that is about teachers and parents, not politicians and lawyers. We believe in a system that gives more control to teachers and local principals, and limits the size of administrations. We believe in empowering organizations like the Parents and Teachers Association, where parents and teachers are encouraged to work together to help our children succeed. Most importantly, we believe that parents and teachers are better informed to shape education policy than politicians and lawyers.