March 27, 2015 17:37 Age: 3 yrs

Rallying with Hundreds to Protect Hope in Rhode Island

Category: News, Home

Elizabeth Winangun is Achievement First’s associate director of community engagement for Rhode Island.

Earlier this month, I stood side by side with other members of our Achievement First Providence Mayoral Academy Team & Family, and students and families from across Rhode Island to rally at the state house for Protect HOPE (High-quality Options for Public Education). We were so proud to see coverage of this important issue in outlets like the Providence Journal and our local NBC news.

As a lifelong Rhode Islander, I rallied to Protect HOPE because it pains me that our state would consider moving backwards.

In 2010, the Rhode Island General Assembly took a courageous and positive step forward when it passed legislation that established an education funding formula whereby state education aid would be distributed fairly, equitably and predictably. One of the fundamental principles of the formula was the idea that funding would follow students to whatever public school they chose to attend. However, a state commission is now reviewing the fair funding formula. Due to the tough current fiscal climate, many committee members want to roll back the progress that has been made—this would affect more than 8,000 Rhode Island families, including hundreds of families at Achievement First.

I rallied because we need more high-quality options for our students, not less, and rolling back the fair funding formula will certainly not allow new, innovative, student centered schools to operate.

At the rally, Rhode Island public charter and technical schools came together for the first time to show that together we represent the fifth largest school district in the state and our children are not worth less! More than 200 Achievement First Providence Mayoral Academy students, parents and educators attended, and our very own Chief External Officer Chastity Lord and Achievement First Providence Mayoral Academy second-grader Jeniah spoke to the crowd and brought down the house!

I was especially proud to see Jeniah have the confidence to address an audience of more than 500 people. It illustrated for me how well our school is developing young people into leaders who will be the change we want to see in our communities. We need to Protect HOPE for Jeniah and thousands of other Rhode Island students, all of whom deserve the chance to go on to bright futures.