For years, many people, including politicians and unions, have complained that Rhode Island is the only state without a school-funding formula. The public’s distrust of the legislature, however, has made it difficult to proceed. Not without reason, people feared that vast amounts of money would be simply siphoned away, without accountability, to benefit teachers unions and other powerful interests, not students.
But now there seems hope that Rhode Island can move beyond such cynicism. State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist and the state Board of Regents have approved a plan more focused on students. The formula is now before the General Assembly.
Under their plan, state school-aid dollars would “follow the students” — even to charter schools, public institutions that operate outside the red tape of standard schools and are sometimes anathema to teachers unions.