Still in the Vague Phase

We have to give the woman some time to build up momentum (or not), but per Julia Steiny’s column today, Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is still in the phase of offering vague goals:

1. “Ensure educator excellence”: Recruit, support and evaluate highly effective teachers and leaders.
2. “Accelerate school performance”: Engage broad community support, especially from parents, in promoting excellence and equity. Intervene assertively in persistently struggling schools.
3. “Establish internationally competitive standards and high-quality assessments”: Rhode Island’s ongoing efforts to anchor our standards in internationally-recognized best practice must remain a priority.
4. “Develop data systems that drive student performance”: Upgrade our current systems and get more user-friendly data into the hands of all stakeholders.
5. “Develop finance systems that drive student performance”: Establish fair and equitable funding, and become vigilant stewards of the taxpayers’ investment.

Steiny characterizes Gist as “a jolt of pure energy,” which could mean that she intends to take the state’s apathy by the throat. Of course, I’ve also seen such jolts emanating from “sales people” promoting direct marketing pyramid schemes. Some folks take their first rule as “you’ve got to be excited to get the mark excited,” and I’ve always been wary of those who’ve tried to stir hot emotion rather than well-reasoned and optimistic determination. As for those who are genuine in their uncontainable energy for change, inasmuch as the world has its store of recalcitrance to storms of personality, they cannot always succeed, and their response to delay can be difficult to predict.
So, we’re left waiting to see whether Ms. Gist wins quickly; buckles down for the grit of long-view transformation despite human lethargy; faces obstacles and determines the effort not worth the sacrifice of some other opportunity that has suddenly appeared; or some other possibility. In sum: There are encouraging sounds coming from the commissioner’s office, but it’s too early to tell whether it’s just the burble of some inspirational movie playing in the background.

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George Elbow
George Elbow
11 years ago

What, are these NEW goals?
They weren’t the goals of the last Commissioner? What’s different?
And what the hell does it mean to “evaluate highly effective teachers and leaders”???
How about a goal of “rewarding highly effective teachers and leaders, and more importantly, purging the system of ineffective teachers and leaders (i.e. the baby sitters that are kept around like a virus due to whacko Union rules such as Tenure)”?
Develop data systems?? We’ve got them already. We are drowning in data that demonstrates that we have extremely low performing Union staffed Public schools at UNSUSTAINABLE costs.
The last thing we need is more data for the Schmelings of the world to “study” in the never ending quest to delay the necessary actions for improvements, starting with the gutting of the Unions.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

everything advanced is just fine. Still, it seems to me that a students chief motivation is the expectations of their parents. This is carefully avoided.
The way this progresses speaks of parent apathy. They have not voted to “throw the bums out”. I think too many parents believe that a “good eductional plan” will relieve them of responsibility.

George Elbow
George Elbow
11 years ago

Speaking of “throwing the bums out”, Step 2 of improving public education (Step 1 being the castration of the Unions) is a change in mindset from “free public education is a RIGHT” to “free public education is a PRIVILEGE”.
For the gang-bangers and other trash not interested in learning, throw the bums out and stop wasting precious, limited resources on such garbage.
Stop turning our schools into warehouses and day-care centers for pieces of crap that are not at all interested in beig educated.
It should be two strikes and you are out …thrown out to the curb like yesterday’s trash.
Reallocate the saved resources to building prisons to house the eventual criminals and / or to build boats to send them back to their country of origin.

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

“Develop data systems?? We’ve got them already. We are drowning in data that demonstrates that we have extremely low performing Union staffed Public schools at UNSUSTAINABLE costs.
The last thing we need is more data for the Schmelings of the world to “study” in the never ending quest to delay the necessary actions for improvements
Yes, Rhode Island is all set in the data department. In fact, it’s one of the very few areas for which our education system gets passing grades. Let’s move on to fixing the problem, please.
http://www.uschamber.com/assets/icw/07reportcard/state_reports/state_report_RI.pdf

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Throwing out the “gang-bangers and other trash” is no longer an option since we have long accepted that “everyone must graduate from High School”.
The Massachusetts Education Czar, Dr. Silber, once made a point that killed him in effectiveness. Basically he said “when we accepted the idea that everyone must graduate from High School, we made the implicit decision to water down the requirements”. In most occupations, the college degree has supplanted the High School Diploma because it is no longer meaningfull. Community Colleges are largely remedial High School.

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