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Travis Rowley: Deborah Gist Deserves A Pay Raise (Chapter 2)

Saturday, June 01, 2013


The state contract for Education Commissioner Deborah Gist expires next month.

The unavoidable suspicion is that the timing of the latest union-commissioned poll, that claims that 85% of Rhode Island teachers “believe Gist’s contract should not be renewed,” has much to do with Gist’s new contract negotiations – and that the poll’s “findings” are just the latest example of union bullying, blatant media propaganda aimed at reducing Gist’s popularity with the taxpayers.

Immediately following the release of the poll’s contentions, Executive Director of NEARI Robert Walsh publicly argued that “the poll shows teachers deserve to be heard when it comes to negotiating Gist’s contract” (WPRI). “On behalf of RI’s roughly 10,500 public school teachers,” Walsh stated, “we are calling on Governor Chafee and the Rhode Island Board of Education to hold a public forum on this important matter…These results go far beyond a simple ‘no confidence’ vote in Commissioner Gist’s leadership. They spell out a serious need to immediately address the lack of leadership facing Rhode Island’s education community today.”

President of the AFT-RI Frank Flynn added that there is "overwhelming evidence that her leadership is almost universally rejected."

Inside the workers’ paradise of organized labor, yes, teachers are able to fire their boss.

As I explained last week, “Only in the sophomoric world of organized labor is it notable whenever employees are found to – get this – dislike their boss. But back here in reality, there would only be cause for concern if teachers overwhelmingly approved of the individual charged with making sure they do their jobs.”

If anything, Rhode Island taxpayers should place their trust in the individual who public school teachers reject.

Why They Hate Her

Throughout all of the clashes between Gist and the State’s educational establishment, the leftist mind has been on display – exhibits of Marxist assumptions, job security over accountability, and emotion over reason.

In addition to vehemently opposing NECAP standards that would – at least somewhat – confirm the value of a Rhode Island high school diploma, unionized teachers have continuously made desperate pleas concerning their own feelings and psyche. As far back as the Central Falls fiasco, teachers were accusing Central Falls School Superintendent Frances Gallo of injuring their “morale” by “scapegoating” them for the school’s failures (This was in addition to their undertaking of an uncooperative agenda aimed at foiling Gallo’s efforts to improve student achievement.)

In the midst of continuous reports regarding the failing state of our public school system, the charade continues. As various media outlets reported last week, “82% [of teachers] feel less respected than they did when Gist was hired in 2009,” and “more than two-thirds said morale is poor.”

For leftists, this is what qualifies as an argument – We’re sad.

But that’s not Gist’s fault. That’s what happens when others find out just how much you suck at your job.

Nothing more needed to be said about Gist’s clashes with the State’s educational establishment after the February 15th episode of Newsmakers, when Rhode Islanders were allowed to witness the contrast between a professional and responsible reformer articulating the need for higher educational standards – particularly the employment of the NECAP graduation requirement – and two infantile teachers who could only defend their resistance by incessantly telling WPRI’s Tim White just how much anxiety Gist’s reforms were causing them to experience.

“There’s a lot of pressure. There’s a lot of stress,” one teacher complained. “It just adds so much pressure, and the students can feel that we…Their teachers should be happy going to work.” The second female teacher remarked, “My kids are very stressed because I’m stressing a lot of the testing.”

Children are teaching our children.

To their objections Gist responded, “The stress is really going to come if we went ahead and gave a diploma to a student who is not ready…and they find doors being closed to them. That’s when the stress really sets in.” Gist added, “Some sleeves are going to have to be rolled up, and some work is going to have to be done. But it’s a reachable goal…This is not unattainable.”

The State’s labor religionists hate Deborah Gist because she’s an adult. Not a conservative. Not a Republican. But, simply, an adult.

Her common-sense reforms threaten to expose Rhode Island teachers for what they truly are – a cult of collectivists whose monopolistic policies of job protectionism have failed Rhode Island children for decades.

If the teachers unions are to survive, Deborah Gist must go. That’s what this is all about.

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.


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Is this article real life? How about the fact that under her leadership NOTHING HAS IMPROVED!?!?! Blame the teachers too, sure... but this is the definition of the Peter Principle in place.

Comment #1 by Eric McNamara on 2013 05 11

Second article in a row that Travis has nothing to say but infantile reasons to keep the unwanted one. Where is the evidence, other than making fun of a couple of women? As Eric stated above, What has improved? I do notice that she is a little more positive lately, probably because she needs to show some results. Second article in a row on Gist. If I was Deb, I would be worried that this is all you can say to support her. Oh well, at least you and Gov. Gump agree on this one. If you act like a leader(adult lmao) but do not lead, are you a leader? Very juvenile article Travis.

Comment #2 by tom brady on 2013 05 11

Gist is the best thing to happen to RI students in years. Scores are improving and accountability will raise the standards of efficiency. The teachers argue that testing causes stress and a "bad day" will derail their future. Get ready for real life, kids. There is stress and accountability in the workplace. Why do the teachers think themselves exempt? Besides testing, how else do you measure knowledge and learning?
I have children, neices, & nephews in the school and are taking NECAPS without a problem. In fact, they are thriving. It's just one more test. Gist's stated goals are to make RI schools on a par with MA schools. MA performs at a level that is #1 in the nation and are among the highest performing in the entire world. Is this not a worthwhile goal for our students and the state of RI? Should the standards be set to comply with a union driven agenda that has little interest in the students, but only to entrench the status quo of member mediocrity and a secure pension? Shame on RI educators!

Comment #3 by Lazlo Freem on 2013 05 11

Eric and Tom >> If you are going to argue that a lack of improvement should lead to a loss of your job, then almost every RI public school teacher should be fired as well. Right? Or is accountability only appropriate for Gist?

And let's face it, the teachers/unions have resisted Gist from the outset, and made attempts to sabotage her reforms.

Finally, there actually have been positive signs and improvements that Gist can point to.

Comment #4 by Bryan Sullivan on 2013 05 11

The goofy Mr Rowley always paints groups of people with a broad brush
""children are teaching our children""....LOL

""The State’s labor religionists hate Deborah Gist"" another Rowley lie
Travis they do not "hate" Miss Gist, they disagree with her

Comment #5 by Sammy Arizona on 2013 05 11

Another good read.

@Sammy Arizona, there has been a lot of hate thrown at Ms. Gist. She has been called some pretty nasty names, a bully, a dictator, a "C word," a "bitch"...and been accused of being a shill for her corporate buddies, etc, etc...All the typical stuff that we see everyday from the unions.

Comment #6 by Jeremy Soninjer on 2013 05 11

Who cares that "85% of teachers" disapprove of Commissioner Gist. "Children teaching our children" hits it right on the head.

The teachers' unions exist to protect the mediocre and incompetent included in their membership. The dedicated teachers who want to be in the classroom and enjoy being with their students are often isolated and ignored by the duds they share a school building with. I think there should be a video camera in every classroom not only for security and protecting the teacher and paras from false claims from smart-assed kids and their hovering parents but also to assist in teacher evaluations.

Comment #7 by Richard August on 2013 05 11

First, I do not no Ms. Gist. However, I have been following this debate since the beginning. The likes of Arne Duncan, Michelle Lee, and Deborah Gist, are experimenting on OUR children. I said OUR children, because my daughter has been out of HS since 06. But they are OUR children and our future. I have always thought that our school system is in trouble. My plan would be called "Back to the Future"! What worked when I and my peers went to school? How did our education prepare us for college or work? I believe the education system has failed since the Federal government started getting involved. Bill Clinton's inclusion, in which special ed students were integrated into the class room. Was this good for these and the regular students? Then we got "No idiot left behind" from the Bush administration, how did that work out? Now we have race to the top. Where we test everyone, with a test not designed for that purpose. I do not think Ms. Gist will ever be successful because these catchy programs NEVER work. Put special ed students in special ed classes. Go back to homogeneous classes, so all students can learn at their own pace. Non English students should be segregated, until they can speak and understand English. Lastly why are we paying for illegals to attend our schools at taxpayer expense, dragging down our scores?

Comment #8 by Stephen DeNinno on 2013 05 12

P.S. Do you know other countries only test college bound students? That's right. In the U.S. all scores are averaged. So when they say we are falling behind the rest of the world, are we really?

Comment #9 by Stephen DeNinno on 2013 05 12

"For leftists, this is what qualifies as an argument – We’re sad. But that’s not Gist’s fault. That’s what happens when others find out just how much you suck at your job."

I have exactly three comments about these two sentences, among the fifty million I wish I had time to write in response:

-Does Travis himself have any comparative stats to prove the percentage of left/right inside the set of the teachers' community that is lodging complaints against the Commissioner? I would be loathe to say that all are democrats: the demon "leftists."

-And I would certainly nullify the statement that all complaints are without merit. A point-by-point analysis of her record vis-a-vis her policies and their specific effectiveness might be in order, rather than the overgeneralization that is being papered over necessary specifics to cogent debate by both sides. Both dems and repubs are getting too dirty and ultimately irresponsible, considering that education is the matter on the line.

-Finally - and arguably most importantly - the broadest brushstroke in here, or at least the most insulting, is to accuse teachers in general of suck[ing] at [their] jobs because of unresolved complaints by some. I don't know whether Travis attended public school, but many of the teachers I had worked very hard, taught well, and were inspiring.

Comment #10 by Tree Beard on 2013 05 17

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