Rhode Island’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah A. Gist is taking a bit of unwarranted heat these days.
Following the release of the 2012 New England Common Assessment Program that showed 40 percent of the students tested were at risk of not graduating from high school as a result of their poor scores, there have been calls for the state to roll back its requirement that students show that they are at least partially proficient in the test subject(s).
Never mind that it has been a go-along to get-along attitude that has in part put Rhode Island public education where it is today – producing too many students not ready for the workforce.
Commissioner Gist has brought a demanding, goal-setting style of leadership to the state, one that has resulted in significant federal investment as she tries to wrest Rhode Island education from the grip of mediocrity. Yes, she has upset many an entrenched interest. No wonder she continues to be criticized. Change is often wrenching, and if the establishment stands in the way of a brighter future for the Ocean State, then it needs to be wrenched.
Deborah Gist has been the best thing to happen to Rhode Island’s school-age children in a long time. Her contract expires at the end of June. It is time to sign her up for another term. •