Gist’s State of (RI) Education

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has released the text of her State of Education speech (PDF)to the RI General Assembly. In it, she charts a course for improving RI’s education system via a holistic approach. She also explains where RI needs to improve in its next Race-to-the-top bid:

…we lost points because we don’t have a data system that supports instruction – yet – though we are in the process of building what will be one of the best in the country.
We also lost points because of two serious weaknesses: our policies on public charter schools and on education funding. Because you lifted the cap on public charter schools, we will gain points in the next round of funding. We will gain even more points if we succeed in adopting a predictable and equitable funding formula for aid to education.
We could also gain as much as 15 points once we secure statements of support from all districts and unions. That will surely help us in our race to the top!
Between now and June 1st, we are going to work to improve the quality of our application. I will engage superintendents, school committees, and teachers’ unions to ask for their involvement and support. But everyone has to realize one thing: Delaware and Tennessee won because they had bold reform policies (just as we did) and widespread support. Though I am always open to ideas that can improve our application, we cannot and will not backtrack on our reform policies – or we will be out of the running. We now need the entire state to get behind these reforms!

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