I feel like I should make some comment on the recent brouhaha over funding an expansion of RI charters. In short, the general assembly was going to leave out funding for two new approved charters, including one new "mayoral academy" which will have the honor of offering less than prevailing wages and no pensions to teachers, among a few other distinctions. You actually might have heard about this, since Arne Duncan got dragged into the dispute and the national charter lobby wound up its Mighty Wurlitzer. In the end, the new schools were funded.
To me, the most noteworthy thing about the whole affair is that two programs affecting a total of 140 students next year, that is, about one thousandth of the students in RI, managed to trigger threats from the EdSec. I have no real understandings of the layers of intrigue that take place in our crazy State House, and how that interacts with our national congressional delegation, and for the sake of my sanity, have no desire to start digging into it. The whole sequence of events did feel to me like the assembly just "yanking the chain" of the charter advocates. Holding out just to see how loudly they'd scream.
I do have to wonder how long it will be before the US Congress gets sick of this routine from Duncan, however. If I were Whitehouse, Reed, Kennedy or Langevin, regardless of what I thought about charter schools in general, I wouldn't be too excited about the EdSec vaguely threatening to withhold "billions," as Angus Davis would put it, of dollars in funding to a loyally Democratic state based on whether or not our screwed-up General Assembly pays to open a non-union kindergarten next year.
On the other hand, it seems like all you have to do to be enrolled in the "pro-reform state" column is open a non-union kindergarten or two, so your state might want to try that to hedge your bets. Best to stage as much of a screaming fight about it beforehand though, for maximum publicity effect.