Two local reports give the R.I. Department of Education high marks for progress made to date in education reform, but both warn that much more needs to be done and involvement of the business community is essential for the state’s future prosperity.
“Education is the key driver for economic development,” said Maryellen Butke, executive director of the Rhode Island Campaign for Achievement Now (RI-CAN). “We need the business community to support education reform and really demand that we need these changes to continue.”
At the R.I. Public Expenditure Council, Ashley L. Denault, director of research, said the business community must let “the state know that [education reform] is a key issue for them.”
The comments of Butke and Denault came after each organization released separate reports on the state of education in Rhode Island, with RIPEC’s coming out in December and RI-CAN’s in January. The role of business is a part of each report, particularly in regard to the skills gap that leaves high-skilled jobs vacant, but the overall thrust of both is reform in general at the elementary and secondary levels.
The state education department is using $75 million in federal Race to the Top funds to improve schools and teaching, with another $50 million granted in December to bolster early education.
The RI-CAN group, a 501(c) 3 that is part of the national 50 Campaign for Achievement Now (50 CAN) organization based in Washington, D.C., in its report pointed with particular urgency to the skills gap in the state.