Brief Reactions to Chafee Board of Regents Nominees
I covered initial reactions to Governor Chafee’s new Board of Regents appointments yesterday, so I won’t repeat myself. The ProJo has more info and reaction, including the info that Central Falls School Board of Trustees Chair Anna Cano-Morales, lawyer Amy Beretta and school reform advocate Angus Davis were the Regents NOT re-appointed by Chafee. The Phoenix’s David Scharfenburg has also been looking for reaction:
I’ve spoken with some in the education reform crowd – all strong supporters of Education Commissioner Deborah Gist – about Chafee’s picks for the Board of Regents. Their official posture is wait-and-see. And there is even a glimmer of hope that Caruolo, a supporter of charter schools in the past, will give the reform push a fair shake. But the primary feeling, it seems, is one of deep concern – that Chafee is moving to check the reform movement.
Also, as if we hadn’t detected the pattern already, it looks like the Governor continues to tap entrenched Rhode Island insiders when it comes to his political appointments. It’s almost like he still thinks it’s the 1990’s.
UPDATE: Ian Donnis checked out Facebook and found Anna Cano-Morales’ reaction:
Departing Regent Anna Cano Morales fumes via Facebook: “What is stunning is that I learned about [not being reappointed] by reading the paper. No call, no letter, not even a simple email. There is alot of work to do folks and because children don’t vote, don’t pay dues and don’t have access to power, I will continue to fight for THEM.”
UPDATE II: It’s also important to see what these moves look like from the perspective of national education reformers, such as Tom Vander Ark (emphasis added):
Grant makers don’t like to take money back, but Rhode Island may become the first state that owes the feds a refund for [unfulfilled] Race to the Top plans.
Recently elected Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee canned state board member and reform warrior Angus Davis. Three other reform mined Regents are also leaving. Gov. Carcieri failed to make key reappointments before leaving office and, as a result, left the new governor the ability to appoint 8 new Regents (a big loose end that should have been tied up in support of RttT plans)….for kids in Rhode Island this really sucks. This is more bad news for Commissioner Gist, one of the Chiefs for Change. The new board will have a stronger labor voice, will support the governor’s ‘pause’ to reexamine charters, and could jeopardize execution of the state’s very specific RttT plans.
It’s still not clear how this will all sort out, but if they roll back the RttT plans, they should give the money back.
While I get the frustration with Governor Carcieri not filling the slots, the reality is that any of his nominees would have had to pass through the Legislature and there was no guarantee that a lame-duck Republican’s nominees would have been approved by a Democrat legislature in an election year. Vander Ark thinks that the Legislature and various mayors are still on board for reform and national groups are supporting Gist.
In May, Rhode Island Mayor Academy will advance to the Regents a 5 campus proposal in partnership with Achievement First. That will be a pretty clear indication of whether the state is moving forward or rolling back reforms.
Reform groups like DFER [Democrats for Education Reform] are encouraging the governor to support one of the best chiefs in the country and a very good reform plan.
Eroding reform agendas will be a spring test for the Obama administration. We’ll see what team Duncan does when a state does not deliver (too bad they paid out all the money). As Whitney Tilson said this morning, “Here’s hoping they take a hard line!”