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Rhode Island Ed Leader: What I Learned from EdPolicy Leaders Online


• ExcelinEd

Today’s post is by Steve Osborn, a seasoned education leader and EdPolicy Leaders Online alumni.

Steve has served in two state departments of education: previously in Louisiana and currently in Rhode Island. He recently completed all three EdPolicy Leaders Online courses, ExcelinEd’s series of free, self-paced online courses for policy makers.

He took some time to share why he has committed his career to education, what he learned from one of our courses, and how EdPolicy Leaders Online can support ed reformers.


EdPolicy Leaders Online: Free, Self-Paced Course for PolicymakersI’m passionate about education reform because throughout my career, I’ve seen firsthand that true parental involvement – empowering parents to choose their child’s school – has the opportunity to dramatically improve our educational system. When parents have a choice, they consistently make the best decision for the future of their child.

However, most parents don’t have the ability to choose their child’s school. As a result, families assigned to schools that don’t meet their academic expectations or reflect their values are left with little recourse, if any. This inability to choose causes unacceptable consequences. Families suffer. Communities suffer. The economy suffers. Our future suffers.

I have been a longtime supporter of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and the work they have done to promote school choice, college and career readiness and digital learning. The results of these strategies have been undeniable. I have been blessed in my career to put many of these principles into practice, and the results I’ve witnessed give me great hope for a better and brighter future for our country.

Parents in New Orleans have the ability to choose their child’s school, and children in New Orleans have better opportunities to receive a quality education now than at any point in the history. By evaluating schools as we evaluate our students and by empowering parents to choose their child’s school, we’ve made tremendous progress. We have reduced the number of children attending failing schools from two out of every three children in 2005 to one out of twenty children attended a failing school in the fall of 2014.

Choice is working in Rhode Island too. A child attending a Rhode Island charter school on average gained an additional 86 days’ worth of reading and 108 days of math each year compared to their peers in a traditional public school, according to Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes most recent National Charter School Study. It is no surprise that this spring charter schools received 13,579 applications for only 1,871 enrollment seats for the 2015-2016 school year.

I enrolled in EdPolicy Leaders Online to become a better advocate for the children and families of Rhode Island. There is always more we can do to improve education, and the best strategies are not static. We can always learn from the successes of others.

Currently, I serve as the Chief of Accelerating School Performance for the Rhode Island Department of Education. In this capacity, I am responsible for implementing strategies that increase the academic performance for all of our students. EdPolicy Leaders Online provided me with the opportunity to get inside our nation’s leading minds and to learn more about strategies that have empowered parents and increased educational outcomes for our children.

Securing Our Nation’s Future: The Urgent Need for Education Reform helped to renew my sense of urgency and commitment to reform by providing access to resources that will help me foster a similar sense of urgency for others. It is hard to believe that stakeholders remain complacent about improving our educational system when you learn that only one of four of our country’s high school graduates is fit to serve in the United States military.

I would encourage other policymakers and leaders to participate in EdPolicy Leaders Online to learn more about strategies that are improving education for America’s children. If you are frustrated with what is happening in your community and believe all of our children can be successful, you can play a role to ensure every child attends a high-quality school of their parent’s choice. This vision can become reality. It can be done.

To begin your own learning experience, sign up for EdPolicy Leaders Online today. 

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About the Author

Steve Osborn is the Chief of Accelerating School Performance for the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE). In this capacity, he leads the Office of Multiple Pathways, Office of Transformation and Charter Schools and Office of Students, Community and Academic Supports. Steve previously served as the Assistant Superintendent of Student Programs at the Louisiana Department of Education. Here he oversaw Louisiana’s federal programs and restructured the office from a traditional SEA federal programs structure to one focused on providing support to school districts through Louisiana’s “Empowering Educators: Planning for Success” initiative. Steve also served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Capital One – University of New Orleans Charter School Network which operates four public charter schools in New Orleans in partnership with the University of New Orleans and Capital One Bank.


About the author