Advocating for Educational Options in Rhode Island


WARWICK — The annual School Choice Fair held on Sunday, Jan. 21 at the ballroom in the Crowne Plaza, was an event dedicated to raising awareness of the educational options that exist for parents in the state of Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island Families for School Choice is known for advocating for various legal policies to make it easier for parents to choose the school that best fits the educational needs of their children. The day’s events were organized by Edward Bastia, founder of the Rhode Island Families for School Choice, the local branch of the National School Choice Awareness Foundation. Representatives from local Catholic schools, Jewish schools, Evangelical/Christian schools, charter schools and vocational schools participated in the fair.
“Our motto is that we believe that our Rhode Island parents should be empowered by the state, financially, to make the choice that suits their child best,” Bastia said. “The time has come for us to recognize that education, yes, needs to be free and open and available to all, but parents should be involved in that decision, because they know their kids best.”
Bishop Richard G. Henning attended the event, walking throughout the ballroom meeting with representatives of all schools.
“It certainly is a joyful room,” Bishop Henning said. “These are all people who are doing important work, and they’re doing it with a sense of dedication. I would love to see the state be more supportive of that good work that is being done for the benefit of the whole society.”
One common theme of the fair was the strong emphasis on parents and the average, everyday citizen making known their desire for increased school choice.
“I think it’s like with all things: they have to let the leadership hear them,” Bishop Henning said.
“I believe that families are looking for an alternative for their children. There are so many excellent options, and I’m glad that the committee’s put together a venue for them to come out and see us all at once, really get to talk to us and meet some of the students…and I know that the families will make the right choice for them and their children,” said Bethany Mascena Tracy, a parent who was asked to represent St. Mary Academy-Bay View.
“We have two big initiatives or goals today,” Bastia noted. “
The first is to bring awareness to the fact that people in the state of Rhode Island do in fact want more educational options for their kids. … The second goal is letting parents know that they have the ability to change the future. They have the power in their hands. All they have to do is pick up the phone, call their legislator, and tell them, ‘I want more school choice options.’”