Breaking: Architect of “Caruolo Act” to Chair Board of Regents
Governor Chafee has in recent days asked former House Majority Leader George Caruolo to chair the state Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education….a knowledgable source has confirmed that the governor asked Democrat Caruolo, 58, of East Providence, to come out of political retirement to chair the board, subject to confirmation by the Senate.
Caruolo was the architect of the so-called “Caruolo Act,” which annually gets called into play/threatened as RI School Committees struggle with their Town or City Councils over education dollars. Caruolo explained the eponymous act in 2009.
Prior to passage of the so-called Caruolo Act, all funding disputes between school committees and city and town councils went to the Rhode Island Department of Education. The process called for an appeal of the funding level to be heard by an “independent hearing officer” employed by the department. After both sides made their presentations, a finding was rendered by the officer and the final decision was made by the commissioner of education. Almost invariably, the schools received the additional funds they sought. As the late TV educator Mr. Rogers would ask, “Can you say stacked deck?”
The Caruolo law was conceived and passed to give cities and towns a fair shake when these disputes arose, while at the same time it sought to protect the legitimate educational needs of the students. These questions were referred to the court system to give an impartial hearing to serious public policy disputes….When the law passed, it was greeted with enthusiasm by local mayors and managers. That was not the case in all quarters, however. The teachers didn’t like it. The teachers unions didn’t like it and the commissioner of education really didn’t like it. A small indication of that were the efforts that went into branding the law the “Caruolo Act,” which I can assure you is quite unusual.
…I was never a favorite of the unions when I was in the State House. There were times I supported union positions and times I didn’t. They weren’t happy with me or my colleagues when we raised their pension contributions or expanded charter schools, and maybe they didn’t like it when we mandated annual publishing of school results, but we did what we did in the best interest of the people of this state whether students, teachers or retirees.
We’ll see if Caruolo is willing to support reform.
UPDATE: Bill Rappleye tweets: “Gist here at Chafee’s regents news conference!”
MORE RappTweets: “Chafee says will keep working with Gist.” — Now that sounds kind of obtuse. Keep working with her for how long?
UPDATE II: Your new Board of Regents (via ProJo 7to7):
Robert L. Carothers, former president of the University of Rhode Island.
Carolina B. Bernal, an East Providence parent who works at the Institute for Labor Studies and Research in Warwick.
And Mathies J. Santos, an outreach associate for Rhode Island at the Boston Veteran Affairs Research Institute.
The following members will remain on the board:
Colleen Callahan, director of professional development for the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers, a Regent since 2003.
Patrick Guida, a lawyer and vice-president Barrington School Committee; Regent since 2001.
Betsy Shimberg, an East Greenwich parent; term expires Jan. 31, 2012.
Karin L. Forbes, a retired math teacher who has served on the Regents since 2004.
The new chairperson of the Board of Governors for Higher Education also serves on Board of Regents. Chafee said he will appoint that board later this winter.
Carothers is a known quantity, but not sure where he stands on reform. Bernal may be a parent—and I know nothing about her–but she works for the Institute for Labor Studies and Research, which is housed in the same building as NEARI and is essentially the research arm of the labor movement. In addition to his current work, Santos was in the DiPrete administration (this was an interesting read). As for those kept on by Chafee, we have: one teacher, a teacher union director, a parent and a school board member.