Nothing should disappoint Newport voters more than witnessing the determination and money being poured into having our small, underperforming, sports-centric, nostalgia-rich school rebuilt in the wrong location for a small cohort of students for far too much money – and then totally ignore what goes on inside. No amount of social media bullying, or even the recent postcard smear campaign, will change the fact that this plan is faulty; future students, their parents, their employers, and taxpayers will pay the price for generations.

Here is what the world sees online when looking at Rogers:

– only 22% of graduates are proficient in math.

– only 32% are proficient in reading. 

And yet, 50% of graduates who are NOT reading or doing math anywhere close to the basic level expected of a high school graduate receive diplomas. Having these students then undertake remedial math and reading at CCRI and RIC is a huge disservice to the students, their families and Rhode Island taxpayers.

Ironically those that allow these excuses to go unchallenged are our civic leaders who let the current Rogers deteriorate into its current condition –physically, academically, socially! The same group who are quick to march for social justice. How can you have “justice” when you stand by and allow these failures to occur and remain silent?

We should demand that those who govern, administer and lead a district that suffers from chronic absenteeism (229th out of 230 in the state), heartbreaking culture/climate malaise, enormous achievement gaps, and yes, extremely embarrassing academic outcomes, focus on what matters – our students! New bricks and mortar will not fix Newport’s long-standing educational morass. For years, we’ve invested in new school construction. Results?

Before voting, think twice. There are awesome alternatives available, now. Our kids and community deserve leaders who can envision a higher bar for all kids, face reality, and are willing to work hard so all our kids can be assured that when they graduate, their diploma represents the proficiency and readiness required to thrive in this ever-changing world.

Vote NO on the school bond, and let’s get to the work that matters most, preparing ALL our graduates for fulfilling futures.

Beth Cullen, Newport

Editor’s Note: Beth Cullen is a candidate for Newport City Council At-Large. Her husband, Mike Cullen, is a candidate for Newport School Committee.