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Travis Rowley: Deborah Gist Got A Pay Raise!!

Saturday, June 08, 2013


The Rhode Island Left’s propaganda campaign against a steadfast reformer has failed, proving that radical and dishonest politics can sometimes run its course. Defying months of spiteful union rancor, last night the State Board of Education voted 7-3 in favor of offering Education Commissioner Deborah Gist “a salary of $193,800” – which is “a 2-percent raise.”

But it’s not all promising news. Last night’s decision made it obvious that the teachers’ unions haven’t exactly lost their political cache. According to GoLocalProv, Gist “had been seeking a three-year contract and a four percent annual pay raise” – a term that would have telegraphed a much deeper commitment on behalf of the Board.

Instead, “Gist will continue under a two-year contract with a minimal 2% increase each year,” a term that helps to handicap Gist as her job will almost immediately be placed back into the political crosshairs once again.

As the notorious NEA-RI agitator Patrick Crowley promised, “If the board votes to renew the contract, we want to make it clear tonight isn’t the end of a campaign. Tonight is the beginning of the campaign.”

The Board of Education just made Crowley’s radical activism that much easier.

Commenting on the Board’s decision to pacify labor activists was education reformer and OSTPA spokeswoman Lisa Blais: “From our perspective it was a political decision to try and kick her out of RI…[The two years] cements Angel Taveras' run for higher office. It puts us right in an election cycle… We didn't put kids first here. Look, we were a year short of saying that we're standing by improving our public school system…We thank the Commissioner for accepting this contract in the face of enormous, and often nasty pressure. We hope that in two years the Board of Education will have its act together, and focus on school improvement rather than the barometer of politics."

Progressive Politics

During the past several months progressives have been bothering the public with political gamesmanship and nonsensical charades – “mounting letter-writing campaigns,” “storm[ing] the State House,” and going on news networks to complain about how “disrespected” teachers feel, and how much “pressure” teachers feel when it’s demanded of them that their students, you know, actually learn something.

The Rhode Island Left has been busy manipulating impressionable high school students to take up their cause, helping to design an outfit called the Providence Students Union that would attempt to gain public sympathy with nonsensical gimmicks such as mock NECAP exams and zombie protests.

Luring students – who apparently don’t want to be tested – into the radical world of community organizing led some to feel righteous enough to take to the Twittersphere in order to call Commissioner Gist the “C word” and a “dumbass” – telling her, “You suck” and “Fuck you.”

In their spare time, progressive adults have continuously besmirched Gist as an out-of-touch autocrat, releasing dubious polling data and conducting public forums that highlight just how much unionized teachers hate her.

And I mean “hate.” Bob Plain, editor of the far-left news blog RIFuture.org, admitted as much: “Teachers hate her.”

Larry Purtill Is Yelling!

The unions hate Deborah Gist. And it’s not because of her “management style.”

The ever-predictable unions would often refer to former Governor Don Carcieri as a “bully.” In East Providence, they called former School Committee Chairman Anthony Carcieri a “bully.” In Central Falls, they assaulted School Superintendent Frances Gallo with the label “bully.” Out of pure political protocol, the unions again attempted to gain public favor by smearing the character of another individual who dared to disagree with the educational establishment, convincing as many people as possible that Gist is, yup, a “bully” – a “fascist” who “doesn’t listen” and “rules with an iron fist.”

Perhaps it’s time for the unions to come up with some fresh nonsense.

Of course, the irony of union activists accusing other people of brutishness and intimidation is interchangeably laughable and infuriating. Organized labor would have dwindled into political insignificance years ago if it wasn’t for their thuggish tactics.

In fact, Bob Plain just happened to be “live tweeting” from the Board’s closed-door executive session last night between Gist and the Board – a meeting that could only be observed through a “glass wall.” Among those present were President of the National Education Association Larry Purtill and RI Federation of Teachers leader Colleen Callahan – two of Gist’s most ardent detractors who voted against her contract renewal.

According to Plain, there was a “lot of body language from Callahan, her arms waving all over!” Plain continued, “[Board Member] Patrick Guida and Colleen Callahan are talking the most. Callahan winning body language contest. In landslide.” Plain added, “Looks like @LarryPurtill is yelling!”

No surprise there.

Fire the Teachers

It may come as no surprise to some that this writer essentially believes that Deborah Gist’s position shouldn’t even exist. Nor should any federal program called “Race To The Top.” But while we’re living in this big-government cocoon where government unions, government education, and federal coercion is a reality, we might as well have someone who understands the value of high standards, the benefits of competition and evaluation, and the ridiculousness of seniority hiring at the helm.

But Rhode Islanders should brace themselves for what’s to come – a band of defiant public workers who will make sure the Board of Education rues the day it dared to stand against them.

Responding to Gist’s contract renewal, Patrick Crowley posted on Twitter last night, “Two more years of continued disrespect for RI teachers but this is just the beginning of the fight back."

Rhode Islanders should also remember the Central Falls fiasco from several years ago, when Central Falls teachers were caught exercising a “Work To Rule” measure that aimed to spoil the educational reforms being implemented within the city’s high school.

And several weeks ago, Bristol/Warren teacher Brian Chidester warned the RI Board of Education, “If you want mass civil disobedience from your teachers, go ahead and renew Gist’s contract.”

Gist has survived the union onslaught for now. But her policies will have to overcome a collectivist cult of radical teachers, who should all be fired on the spot – starting with Mr. Chidester – the moment they begin to purposely sabotage the education of Rhode Island children.

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


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