Friday, June 09, 2017

GoLocalProv News Team

Keith Oliveira

The Rhode Island League of Charter Schools has named Keith Oliveira, former president of the Providence School Board, as its new Executive Director.

“Our charter schools provide tremendous learning experiences and opportunities for Rhode Island students and families. I am very excited to take on this opportunity to advance the purpose of charter schools in Rhode Island,” said Oliveira.

Oliveira will take over the position effective June 19.

Oliveira as President of the School Board

Oliveira served as President of the Providence School Board from 2011 to 2016, where he oversaw more than 24,000 students, 3,400 employees, and a budget exceeding $360 million dollars.

He resigned from the board in January of 2016, saying he had a “complete lack of confidence” in Mayor Jorge Elorza.

“I thought long and hard about this. I’d been considering this for a while, I took the holiday to reflect on what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. I have a lack of confidence in the way the Administration governs — I think it’s inappropriate,” Oliveira told GoLocalProv at the time.

He was first appointed to the Providence School Board by Mayor Angel Taveras in 2011 and elected board President in 2012.

Oliveira as Executive Director 

Oliveira will work with outgoing executive director Timothy Groves on a successful transition through the month of June before taking over on the 19.

“As president of the board, I know I echo the sentiments of each charter school leader in saying that I am excited to have Keith continuing his advocacy for our charter schools in the role of the new executive director. I look forward to working closely with him promoting the charter school movement in Rhode Island,” said Rose Mary Grant, president of the RI League of Charter Schools Board and Head of School at Highlander Charter School.

Groves will start in a new role as Director of Development and Strategic Partnerships for the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success.

Oliveira’s Background in Education

In 2011, Oliveira helped found and currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the R.I Nurses Institute Middle College Charter School in Providence, RI, a first of its kind public charter school in the United States located in Providence, RI.

Prior to that, he served as a public official within the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) where he served as a special assistant and policy advisor to former Education Commissioner Peter McWalters. He also served as coordinator of RIDE’s charter public schools program; RIDE’s legislative liaison to the R.I. General Assembly; and as Commissioner McWalter’s state-appointed monitor of Hope High School during its state intervention.

In 1995, Oliveira helped found the Metropolitan Regional Career & Technical Center (The Met School) in Providence and continues to serve as Chairman of its Board of Trustees.

From 2012-2016, Oliveira served on the Executive Committee of the Council for the Great City Schools, a national urban education policy and advocacy group based in Washington, DC.

Prior to that, he served on the Executive Committee of the R.I. League of Charter Schools; he is a former trustee of the Segue Charter School in Central Falls and had served as Vice-Chairman of The Met School for over 20 years.

He is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Urban Public Policy.


Click to view video: “Another Chance” – The Hummel Report profiles Nowell Leadership Academy (April 13, 2017)

“The National Alliance supports the Administration’s investment in opening, expanding, and replicating high-quality charter public schools. The $158 million increase for the Charter Schools Program (CSP) contained in the Administration’s FY 2018 budget would provide critical funding to seed new charter public schools and expand choice for families and students seeking alternatives to district schools.

“However, we are concerned that the proposed  budget doesn’t maintain final FY 2017 funding levels for IDEA and reduces Title I Part A formula funds.* Both IDEA and Title I are foundational programs for some of our most vulnerable students. We are  dismayed  by the deep cuts proposed to other programs within and beyond the Department of Education. The proposed $54 billion in overall cuts to non-defense discretionary spending—over $9 billion coming from the Department of Education alone—would have long-lasting, far-reaching negative consequences for children, families, communities, and our country as a whole.

“While we appreciate and welcome the Administration’s commitment to charter public schools and the public school students they serve, we urge the Administration and Members of Congress to consider all the ways the federal budget impacts public school students—both district and charter school students. We call on Congress to raise the budget caps on non-defense discretionary spending to avoid lasting negative impact to our children and the future of our nation.”

*Title I Part A is reduced by eliminating funding of the former School Improvement Grants (SIG) Program, which ESSA intended be added to Title I Part A to support school improvement efforts.  

About Charter Public Schools
Charter public schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, many research studies have found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.

About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit


By Linda Borg
Journal Staff Writer

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. _ The Learning Community is the first public school in Rhode Island to receive state approval to train elementary teachers in English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction.

The Learning Community, a K-8 public charter school, also has a teacher training program called the Teaching Studio, which has worked with over 4,000 students and 500 teachers in the traditional public schools. Co-director Meg O’Leary said the school has become known locally and nationally for sharing its best teaching practices with other public schools.

She said the Learning Community is well-prepared to train teachers in English as a Second Language because this is the work that the charter school does every day with its own students.

In the 2015-2016 school year, the Learning Community’s English language students performed significantly better in both English Language Arts and math than similar populations in other Rhode Island schools on the sate’s standardized tests. For example, 28 percent of their English language learners met or exceeded expectations on the 2016 English test compared to the state average of 7 percent.

The Learning Community’s math performance follows a similar trend.

“Our most recent work with the Woonsocket schools has shown actual gains in student reading performance,” said Christine Alves, director of the Teaching Studio. “Being housed in a high-performing urban school means we are able to bring only what works and has been tested in our classrooms to our colleagues around the state.”

Rhode Island has one of the 10 worst achievement gaps between Latino and White students in the nation, according to a recent report by the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University.

To find the application for the Learning Community’s certification program go to:


2017 applications to RI charter public schools surpass last year’s record high

Schools receive 15,430 applications to fill 1,770 open seats for next school year

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - According to data compiled by the Rhode Island Department of Education (“RIDE”), charter public schools in Rhode Island received a record total of 15,430 applications for the 1,770 open seats that will be available for the 2017-18 school year. This number represents an increase of 5.5% over the previous record of 14,628 set just last year, and translates to approximately nine applications for every available seat.  This is the first time that applications to Rhode Island charter public schools have exceeded 15,000, and represents a 29% increase in applications since spring 2014.

Statewide, charter public schools currently educate approximately 8,000 students, or just over 5% of the state’s public school population. Charter schools are public schools, and when the applications to a charter public school exceed the number of open seats in that school, all of those applications go into a blind lottery held annually on March 1. Applicants who are randomly selected from the lottery pool are offered admission.

“These numbers demonstrate that Rhode Island families are demanding, more than ever before, quality public school choice options,” said Timothy Groves, executive director of the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools. “As a state, we must continue working to support great public schools, including traditional, charter, and career and technical public schools. Our students thrive in an education system that embraces and supports different learning needs.”
Rhode Island’s fifteen independent and three district charter schools range in size, but average about 300 students per school. Some charter public schools are open to all public school students from across the state, and others are open to public school students in more narrowly defined geographical regions. Some are K-12, while others are K-5 or high school only.


Rhode Island’s charter schools offer a wide range of options, including a dual-language elementary school (International Charter School), performing arts schools (Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts, Beacon Charter High School for the Arts), career and technical options (RI Nurses Institute Middle College, Academy for Career Exploration, New England Laborers/Cranston Public Schools Construction and Career Academy) and a high school designed for pregnant and parenting teens (Sheila “Skip” Nowell Leadership Academy), to name a few.

Families may apply to more than one charter school if they so choose. This year, the 15,430 applications to Rhode Island’s charter public schools were submitted by or on behalf of 8,651 unique students. According to RIDE, applications exceeded openings in every single charter public school in the state. This year’s record demand is consistent with statewide polling last year that revealed 59% of Rhode Islanders favor the expansion of charter public schools.

About the Rhode Island League of Charter Schools

The Rhode Island League of Charter Schools, founded in 2001, exists to expand the role of charter public schools in Rhode Island’s public education system. The League is guided by the directors of the state’s 18 independent and district charter schools, and provides a forum for advocacy, sharing of best practices, and collaboration. As public schools charged with pursuing innovation, charter public schools recognize their statutory responsibility to share best practices with other public schools, districts, and educators in the state. For more information, visit