Message From NEA RI To Its Members About Gist’s Contract Renewal

Tomorrow evening at CCRI, the state Board of Education will take up the renewal of Education Commissioner Deborah Gist’s contract.

At some point today, NEA RI President Larry Purtill sent out the following message to his members.  [H/T OSTPA, which has it posted on their Facebook page.]

Hi all.
In our efforts to impact the decision about Commissioner Gist’s future in Rhode Island, you have made a huge difference and your voices have been heard – but we cannot stop now. The letters, phone calls, and testimony at Cranston West made the Commissioner’s contract the hottest topic in the state and the concerns you raised have gotten the attention of all. Education Secretary Duncan called me last night to discuss what is going on here and is very aware that without teacher support, reform does not work. We need a change and that change is removing Deborah Gist as commissioner and regaining a working relationship with RIDE.

We have made progress but it is not over.Tomorrow evening, at CCRI, Warwick, the Rhode Island Board of Education will be considering the renewal of the commissioner’s contract. NEARI and the RIAFTHP will be there. We will hold a press event and continue to push what is right not only for educators, but more importantly, the students of Rhode Island.

You have done so much, but we need a final push. We need you there tomorrow to show support for Val Lawson, NEARI vice-president elect and EPEA president, and RIAFTHP President Frank Flynn as they continue to advocate for the right course of events. The meeting is at 5:30 – we ask that you be there at 4:30 as Board members arrive. The message is clear: Rhode Island can not move forward with this commissioner, and her practices and policies. We all know – and it is certainly clear to me as a Board member – she has had free reign for four years to do as she pleases. THIS MUST STOP NOW!

Despite our efforts, she may be rehired. That does not mean that we have not had an impact. The Board may hire her with limitations that must be enforced and reviewed regularly, or we will be ready to continue the fight and take the next steps in September. I don’t believe this is the way to go since I believe she will do everything possible to continue to push her corporate, right wing agenda, but we will be there to make sure she doesn’t.

I have asked a lot of you and I know it is such a difficult time of year, but our voices count. I cannot tell you the impact the crowd had at Cranston West and at the last Board meeting, with NEARI members in every room and seat. Tomorrow will either be a new beginning or the start of the next phase, but you have sent the message loud and clear: “WE WILL NO LONGER BE SILENT. THE COMMISSIONER’S POLICIES AND PRACTICES ARE WRONG AND NEED TO CHANGE IMMEDIATELY. WE CAN’T WAIT ANY LONGER!”

Thanks for all you are doing.



Of the following two issues related to Rhode Island’s public schools, which one is a greater concern?

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