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Let’s reduce it to the basics. Change is scary. But doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result is self-defeating. 

Status quo:

  1. Falling test scores
  2. Decreasing enrollment: teacher reductions, course eliminations
  3. Escalating costs for lesser outcomes
  4. Unavoidable tax increases for band-aid repairs
  5. Progressively deteriorating infrastructure

Objections to Currently Proposed legislation: 

  1. No guarantee to apply savings to education
  2. Limitations resulting from absence of high school unification
  3. No details about educational improvements
  4. Inability to develop within current limitations

What are the answers?

  1. Remove constraints through voter approval
  2. Appoint Advisory Committee to develop proposals for educational improvement
  3. Elect Council Members who commit to applying saved funds to education
  4. Elect Regional School Committee that will enact recommended educational improvements

What are some of the current gaps in both high schools that need attention?

  1. No Business Program, no Accounting or Personal Finance courses
  2. No Civics course
  3. No Family/Child Development or Consumer Science courses
  4. Only French & Spanish – other RI schools teach Portuguese, Italian, Latin, German, Chinese 
  5. No AP Music or AP Visual Arts
  6. No Career Tech in Electricity, Energy Development, Plumbing
  7. No Career Tech in Hospitality/Tourism

The above is a clear picture of only some of the losses due to reduced enrollment over the years.

I’ll conclude with a story related to a question I asked before COVID contributed even further to the devastation of education:

I was a teacher at MHS for 18 years before administration took me elsewhere in 1989. That year the enrollment was 1259 students (similar to RHS). Advanced Placement classes were comparable to college courses and were limited to 14 eligible students.

A few years ago – before COVID – I asked for a computer printout of the course enrollment at MHS. I found that the enrollment of the AP classes ranged from 20 to 25. 

As an educator with more than 50 years of experience, including curriculum development, I wondered how a school of less than 650 could have 20-25 students capable of college-level work when a school of 1250 would have less than 14. Within a school-wide context of lower expectations and declining test scores, had “Advanced Placement” just become a name?

So, I ask you:  What do you want from your schools? Are you satisfied with the status quo? 

We can’t make promises today. But if you want something better, support the legislation on November 8. And remember – Middletowners need to approve both ballot questions 4 and 5 for a change to occur. Without two YES votes, the option will fail.

After that, the rest is up to you. Demand that your higher expectations will be achieved by electing members to the Councils and the Regional School Committee who will make them happen.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in...