1. If elected, would you consider supporting this bill of rights?
2. If not, which portions do you disagree with, and why?
Education Bill of Rights Proposal:
- The right to be taught by effective teachers. Effective teachers are trained and certified in the subject matter being taught. They are knowledgeable about their discipline, use state the art teaching strategies, and respect and respond to student inputs.
The teacher me says “yes”, but the attorney me says this statement is too vague. Training and certification in subject matter is a long standing requirement, and so I question as to whether this is a concern. Of course, I would agree that teachers should be knowledgeable about their discipline, but I am unsure as to agreement with the idea of “state of the art” teaching strategies. Who determines them? What are they? Does this negate teaching by the Socratic method? Should teachers, who are certified in their fields, not be free to employ teaching methods that they deem proper? Should student input about not wanting to do homework encourage teachers to not assign any because they are respecting student input? I think I am in agreement as to having effective teachers, but I am not at all sure as to what is being considered in this statement.
- The right not to be taught by teachers who, after due process evaluation, fail to meet standards established by state and local education officials.
Again, the statement is vague. I agree that children should not be taught by ineffective teachers, but the statement suggests some due process evaluation which is unexplained. Further, I am lost as to what “standards established” could be used and whether they would be adopted without educator input. I could support this if it were clarified.
- The right to appropriate academic materials and resources. This would include materials necessary to support all instructional programs, access to computers and the internet, and modern facilities to support rigorous science, technology and mathematics instruction.
Yes, I fully agree with this statement.
- The right to safe, clean and environmental-friendly school facilities.
This is an obvious yes.
- The right to emotionally supportive schools that do not tolerate harassment, discrimination or abuse.
Harassment, discrimination or abuse should not be tolerated anywhere at anytime. As to “emotionally supportive schools” I am once again left wondering what exactly does this mean.
- The right to attend a school where funding is based on student need with the goal of providing access to adequate educational opportunities.
I believe that education and its funding is the responsibility of the General Assembly. Further, I believe that providing access to education is a fundamental right of the Rhode Island Constitution. With that in mind, I believe that students have a right to excellent educational opportunities and not just “adequate” ones.
As to the issue of funding based on student need, this does not fully flesh out the issue. Student need could be infinite in scope, and as such, I cannot agree with the statement.
- The right to a pathway out of a failing school. This requires the availability of options to attend schools that best enhance a student’s opportunity for academic achievement.
Yes, I believe that there are various methods of achieving this and I am supportive of such ideas in concept. I could support them in practice, where fully described.
- The right to a fair, accurate and transparent assessment system that measures student performance and need. The assessment system should include multiple measures for students to demonstrate their competencies and clearly state what students are expected to know and accomplish.
Yes, I agree with this statement.
- The right of parents to current and reliable information about their child’s progress and performance.
Yes, I agree with this statement.
Robert J. Healey, Jr.
October 10, 2014