Chafee Decision on Gist Coming Soon?
NBC 10’s Bill Rappleye tweets:”Chafee names 5 new education regents today. Gist cancels presentation to Senate. 2+2 ?” We know that the former head of the Board of Regents, Robert Flanders, is out and moving over to the position of Central Falls receiver. Governor Chafee has 8 slots to fill and the ProJo identifies former URI President Robert Carothers and “school consultant” Andrew Moffit (husband of General Treasurer Gina Raimondo) as two candidates (Moffit was originally nominated by former Gov. Carcieri). Flanders thinks it would be a mistake to let Gist go as does ProJo education columnist Julia Steiny, who notes Gist’s successes but also points to why she has ticked off the usual suspects:
Perhaps Gist’s most abrasive characteristic is that she dares to be specific. She and her team devised an enormous plan of action, with a dizzying array of detailed steps, changes, and initiatives. So everyone, including me, disagrees with the plan on one specific or other. Specifics inevitably step on someone’s toes.
We can either improve school quality or we can avoid stepping on toes, but we can’t do both. She gets work done. I like that about her. She can seem tin-eared at times, but she works hard at listening and making herself accessible. We’ve seen her change her mind and adjust her course, so she’s not ignoring the dissenting views. Most wonderfully, she’s made very clear that kids and achievement are her priorities. Adults need to come second. And after a certain amount of deliberation, hurt toes must heal on their own.
Like Steiny, there are some policy proposals I’m not crazy about and Race to the Top isn’t a perfect vehicle for reform by any means. Yet, a perusal of Gist’s Facebook page shows that she is willing to engage anyone–teachers, parents–in a dialogue. That openness and genuine interest is refreshing and encouraging and in direct contrast with what we’ve seen from Governor Chafee so far.
Like it or not, Gist has gotten the conversation moving in this state. There has been genuine debate with some long-called for reform ideas actually getting a look. It hasn’t been–and won’t be–perfect. But it’s a heckuva lot better than where we were. Do we really want to start over, again?
ADDENDUM: In the comments, Ken Block calls attention to a petition at RI-CAN asking Governor Chafee to stay the course on the current education reform path. Here is the link.