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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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