Thursday, June 13, 2024

RI ROGER A. PICARD’S “MEANINGFUL” EDUCATION BILL

STATE HOUSE – The Senate passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Roger A. Picard to place a question on the next statewide ballot asking voters to amend the state constitution to guarantee “an equitable, adequate and meaningful education to each child.”

ROGER A. PICARD

Such a constitutional guarantee would ensure that systems that are failing children are addressed because the guarantee would be legally enforceable.

“The state constitution is the highest law in the state, and the statement of our dearest values. Public education is one of the most important duties of American government, upon which hinges the success of every student, as well as the success of our communities, our state and our nation. We should make a very firm commitment to providing genuine educational opportunities for every single child, regardless of their circumstances or their Zip code,” said Senator Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland).

The legislation (2024-S 2147) now goes to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Mary Duffy Messier (D-Dist. 62, Pawtucket) is sponsoring companion legislation (2024-H 7396).

Senator Picard has introduced the bill numerous times in previous sessions, and this is fourth consecutive year it has passed the Senate. The effort is modeled on a similar constitutional provision added to Massachusetts’ constitution that helped transform its public educational system into one that is consistently among the best in the country.

If the question were put on the ballot and voters were to approve it, it would place the responsibility for providing an equitable, adequate and meaningful education to each child in the hands of the General Assembly and the state. It would enable people to seek court enforcement if they believe themselves injured because the state failed in its duty to provide an equitable, adequate and meaningful education to each child.

“A commitment to equity in education will mean a serious look at whether we should make some changes to the way we fund our schools. It is well-documented that students growing up with fewer resources generally need more support to succeed at school than kids whose families have more.

Adequately resourced public schools are absolutely vital to providing an escape route from generational poverty. Our state must not shy away from our duty to do our absolute best to provide meaningful and equitable educational resources to all, so the promise of a decent education for every child is real,” said Senator Picard.