Langevin Study Identifies Key R.I. Education Needs

Jan 14, 2002
(Cranston, R.I.)–Congressman Jim Langevin, Mayor John O’Leary and Cranston school officials today announced the results of a district-wide education study entitled "State of Rhode Island's Schools" at Arlington Street School.  The survey, conducted by Langevin, found that local schools are in generally good condition but would benefit from improvement in a handful of areas.  Langevin also detailed legislation he will introduce to provide local schools with additional educational resources.

 Of the fourteen major education policy items pending before Congress, the top three priorities, as identified by school principals and presidents of teacher’s unions, are school renovation, improved access to professional development for teachers and hiring additional teachers.  Those surveyed also reported the need for additional mental health resources fourth, and expanded services for special needs students and increased teacher compensation tied for fifth.

 “I wanted to study the exact needs of our state’s schools from the people who work in them each and every day in order to set my own priorities and develop an education agenda beneficial to Rhode Island,” said Congressman Langevin.  “While I am pleased at the findings of this study, there is a clear need for school renovation, improved access to additional teacher training, so educators can better share their knowledge with students and increased mental health resources.  Rhode Island children should be learning from the best-trained teachers in safe, modern buildings.”

 To address the first need of professional development for teachers, Langevin has drafted a proposal entitled the No Substitute for Quality Teaching Act.  This legislation creates a demonstration grant program that would provide funding to school districts to experiment with creative ways of addressing the substitute teacher shortage, thereby providing increased professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators.

 “My study found that teachers are facing difficulties in finding the time to better educate themselves so that they may, in turn, better educate their students,” added Langevin.  “This proposal provides assistance from the federal government to hire trained, well-qualified substitute teachers so that teachers may expand their educational horizons without sacrificing our children’s academic needs.”

 Langevin also reiterated his longtime support of two other initiatives that respond to the priorities of Rhode Island schools.

 Addressing the growing need for school renovation in Rhode Island, Langevin has co-sponsored The America’s Better Classroom Act.  This legislation authorizes $24 billion in new bonding authority for school modernization efforts.  Local school districts would be issued low-interest bonds to renovate and modernize existing school buildings, providing Rhode Island children with the finest educational facilities.

 To better address the mental health needs of students in Rhode Island and across the country, Langevin founded the Coalition for Safer Communities.  This coalition consists of Members of Congress who have had a school, workplace or church shooting within their district in recent years.  Through this coalition, Langevin has advocated the need for increased funding for mental health and student safety initiatives.  Funding for some of these proposals was included in H.R. 1, the No Child Left Behind Act, legislation that Langevin also supported.

 “Thanks to hard work by Rhode Island school administrators and teachers, local schools are providing the very best education they can to our children,” said Congressman Langevin.  “Now it is time for Congress to meet its obligation and commitment to public education by bolstering those areas in need of improvement so that we can prepare our children for future challenges.”

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Click here to view the study.