Improving the Education of Our People

As a mother of three children, I experienced firsthand how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way families and educators look at education. I understand that the goal is not to return to the way things were, but to reshape what we do. We can transform education in Rhode Island by working together – teachers, parents, students, labor leaders, education professionals and elected officials. New federal funding gives us a unique opportunity to not only address post-pandemic learning, but to invest in our teachers, our educational infrastructure and implement ideas that previously died in the funding conversation.

My education plan begins by providing quality, early care and education for our youngest children. It continues by offering all students a challenging journey that prepares and supports them from kindergarten through high school graduation. After graduation, Rhode Islanders should be able to find affordable educational opportunities that prepare them to be a part of our economy – whether at our colleges and universities or at our career and technical training programs. Finally, we will provide adult Rhode Islanders with educational opportunities that help them adapt to changes in our society and economy.

Why This Matters

Transforming education in our state fuels hopeful opportunities for Rhode Island families. It requires leadership that works with educators, families, community organizations, and local government. It values our state’s diversity as the asset it is and uses it to improve education. It uses state resources to support our children and the people educating them.

Main Priorities

  • Support and pass a constitutional amendment for a “Right to A Quality Education”, which shows our state is clear on its priorities. This constitutional amendment holds us and future generations accountable for ensuring our children receive the education they deserve.
  • Become a national leader in providing high quality care and early childhood education for our youngest children by providing affordable, universal access to early childhood care and pre-K programs by the end of my first term.
  • Revise and update the state funding formula for public education to promote greater equity across communities for our K-12 students.
  • ​​Fully support mental health care along with other emotional and behavioral health programs for students, teachers, and administrators.
  • Invest in our teachers. Education is a rapidly changing field. We need to support our teachers in adapting to the changes they are facing by providing them with professional development opportunities and loan forgiveness programs focused on improving the classroom experience for their students’ education.
  • Expand the “Rhode Island Promise” program and invest in our higher education institutions. Ensure that we provide students not attending four year universities with options beyond high school to prepare them for their careers.
  • Use state and federal funds to fully fund school lunch and breakfast to children at all publicly funded schools. No child should go hungry. Meals can feed the body, the soul and the mind. Breaking bread with each other has been a long-time strategy for community building.
  • Sustainably rebuild our schools for the demands of the future, with a priority given to Rhode Island firms for the architectural, design, and building services required.

“As Secretary of State, Nellie has already demonstrated that she can make government work for Rhode Islanders. She brings a clear-eyed, well-researched, and thorough approach to every challenge. Nellie is committed to providing every student in Rhode Island with a high quality education, and I have every confidence in her abilities to achieve this goal.”

Betsy, Providence

Betsy, Providence

Photo taken before the COVID-19 pandemic

Education After COVID 19

The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed how families and educators look at education. This historic moment gave parents an up-close look at their students in the classroom through the challenges of virtual learning. Teachers had to quickly grapple with a whole new way of engaging with their students.

The lessons learned from the pandemic, combined with the new federal funding, enable us to leap ahead in providing an improved education to Rhode Islanders. For example, the federal funding provided to address post-pandemic learning gives us the opportunity to increase support to school districts across the state to extend the school day. To be successful in this effort requires working cooperatively with unions, school administration, after-school programs, transportation providers and communities to ensure that the public school system isn’t overly burdened, and all involved have a voice at the table.

By transforming education we come back to our state’s motto: Hope. Hope for connecting with each other across communities. Hope that we can learn from the hard truths of our past. Hope that we can learn in a variety of ways – through technology, arts, sports. And, yes, hope for economic security. In these times, we need our schools and educational institutions to receive the support needed to answer the call to provide us all hope.

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What Matters to You?

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