Senate Bill S-0263, ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO EDUCATION -- THE BRIGHT TODAY SCHOLARSHIP AND OPEN ENROLLMENT EDUCATION ACT.  This act would provide parents of kindergarten through grade twelve students in Rhode Island with an opportunity to enroll their child in an educational program of their choosing, either via open enrollment in a traditional public school in their own district or any other public school district, or by receiving a scholarship, with designated public monies to follow the student to a participating private school or private curriculum program selected by the parent. The program combines aspects of what are sometimes referred to as "school choice" and "school voucher" programs. 


Senate Bill S-0525, ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO EDUCATION -- EDUCATION SAVINGS ACCOUNT PROGRAM.  This act would require the general treasurer, upon a request to the department of education (RIDE) by a parent or guardian, to establish an education savings account to assist and support the parents, guardians and caretakers of students in any school district of the state with the tuition, materials, tutors, technology and other educational support for any student learning at home or at any other remote-learning site. The amounts contributed and interest earned would be exempt from the state income tax. 


Senate Bills S-0493 and S-0497, ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO EDUCATION -- FAILING SCHOOL CHOICE ACT.   This act would permit students in the bottom 15% of public schools to enroll in any public school with available capacity.  The bills also establish the Rhode Island education revitalization fund to provide funding to the school choice program.




Q&A with Senate Minority Leader Jessica de la Cruz

Q: We have heard a lot about Education lately, it’s a perennial issue really, but things don’t seem to improve much for Rhode Island children.  What is the Senate Minority Office doing to ensure kids have more opportunity for better educational outcomes?

Senate Minority Leader Jessica de la Cruz: On average, we spend $20,000 per student annually on Kindergarten to 12th grade, yet...2 out of 3 students in Rhode Island are not proficient in English Language Arts and 3 out of 4 students in Rhode Island are not proficient in math.  We have one school district with demonstrated proficiency of only 5% in English and less than 5% in math. When it comes to educating our children, Rhode Island gets a failing grade. 

The issues are myriad and solutions will take time and the concerted effort of all stakeholders, but one thing is certain, the children in our failing schools don’t have the luxury of time.  Their potential diminishes with each moment we allow a child’s zip code and family wealth to determine the quality of their education.  That is why it’s crucial we address school choice legislatively. 
This session, Republicans have submitted an ambitious legislative package that contains achievable solutions because Rhode Island families deserve more choice and ownership over their child’s education.  As outlined above, Senate bills 263, 525, 493, and 497 provide greater choice and the funding to make those choices a reality.   
This legislation, if passed, will enable students to have more opportunity for better educational outcomes.  All Rhode Island children deserve that possibility.


Senate Bill No.398, prime sponsor Senator Thomas J. Paolino, was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 30, 2023.  The bill would allow for the extension of child support obligations for non-custodial parents beyond emancipation if the children are attending a two or four year college and still live with the custodial parent until such children reach the age of twenty-one.  The bill was held for further study. 


Senate Minority Whip Gordon Rogers spoke Thursday, March 30th on the Senate floor in opposition to extending the pilot program for Harm Reduction Centers.  Senator Rogers offered his perspective as a first responder on drug overdose emergencies and expressed concern that the program would enable the perpetuation of addiction. 


Senator Elaine Morgan presented Senate Citations offering sincere congratulations to the Hope Valley- Wyoming Fire District award winners in recognition of their accomplishments at their 41st Annual Awards Night and Banquet held March 25, 2023.  The Senator also thanked the winners and all members for their dedication and service to the community.

Senate Minority Leader Jessica de la Cruz visited Ponaganset High School with Secretary of State Gregg Amore and House Minority Leader Michael Chippendale to speak with students about the importance of understanding state government and its function. The Leader appreciated the opportunity to connect with these bright minds and discuss the critical role that state and local government plays in their lives.

Senator Anthony DeLuca will host his first coffee hour with constituents on Saturday, April 8th.  Senator DeLuca will  be joined by Senate Minority Leader Jessica de la Cruz to hear constituent concerns at Brewed Awakenings, 1316 Bald Hill Road in Warwick starting at 8:30 am.