Roberto Moreno is vice chairman of the Pawtucket School Committee and a former Pawtucket school student. Susan Donovan, D-Bristol, is a state representative and retired Bristol public school teacher.
Education has the power to change lives. As a retired Bristol teacher and a former Pawtucket public school student, we’ve seen kids inspired to dream and achieve. We’ve also witnessed the deep gaps that exist in adequately preparing our students to succeed in a modern workforce. Add to it pandemic-related learning loss, the cost of living squeezing families, the availability of early childhood education (or lack thereof), and a student loan crisis that is out of control. We need a real plan for education.
We need Seth Magaziner’s plan.
Top to bottom, Rhode Island’s education system needs to improve — most urgently in kindergarten through Grade 12. Magaziner’s plan includes significant investments in career and technical education, taking a fresh look at the school funding formula to ensure all students are treated fairly, more support for multi-language learners, recruiting a teacher corps that reflects the diversity of the state, and continuing the work Magaziner began as a chair of the state’s School Building Task Force to modernize school buildings across Rhode Island. Because of his bold vision, 176 schools are seeing repairs and replacement for the first time in decades, including in Pawtucket where there will be a new state-of-the-art elementary school that engages students early on in science technology, engineering, arts, and math.
The economy of the future also requires making both early and higher education affordable and accessible. Investing in both has demonstrated success in increased lifetime earnings, lower unemployment, and improved quality of life. Magaziner’s plan makes universal pre-k the standard, and expands the Promise scholarship so that any Rhode Islander can get a good higher education without having to leave the state.
COVID has shown us how much more we need to do to support our adult learners. Rhode Islanders have always been innovative — we’ve built niche markets in frozen lemonade and coffee milk — but we haven’t made it easy to learn new skills or explore new careers. As we try to pave the way forward from this pandemic, and for those looking for a path other than college, Seth Magaziner’s plan will build out apprenticeship and job training programs that result in real employment opportunities in Rhode Island.
Lastly, Rhode Islanders deserve honest leadership. This generation of students cannot wait. Improving public education and workforce training is the most important thing we can do to make Rhode Island a leader again, and we need bold and principled leadership to do it. We need to get this right, for our families and the future of our state. We are supporting Seth Magaziner for governor because he’s shown he is the leader who will get this done.
It’s time to get to work.