Board of Education

John Bender

Rhode Island's new Education Commissioner Ken Wagner officially begins his tenure on Saturday, August 1st, although he is not expected in the office until Monday.

The Rhode Island Department of Education says his first day on the job will include meetings with students, parents and teachers. Wagner is also expected to meet with his new staff.

A former deputy education commissioner in New York State, Wagner has moved to Rhode Island with his family.

He succeeds Deborah Gist as Rhode Island's education chief.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island officially has a new education commissioner after a vote Monday to confirm Governor Gina Raimondo’s nominee, Ken Wagner.

So far, reaction to Wagner has been optimistic, but some teachers have expressed reservations because he lacks experience in the classroom. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison sat down with Larry Purtill, a member of the State Board of Education and the president of the National Education Association Rhode Island, one of two teachers’ unions in the state.

John Bender / RIPR

Rhode Island may have a new education commissioner as of Monday Evening. The Board of Education convenes for a vote on nominee Dr. Ken Wagner.

Wagner is governor Gina Raimondo’s pick to lead the state’s K through 12 education system, following the departure of Deborah Gist. He comes to Rhode Island from New York State where he was deputy education commissioner. His background also includes time as a middle school principal and a school psychologist.

John Bender / RIPR

Ken Wagner is Governor Gina Raimondo’s nomination for education commissioner. The post has been open since former commissioner Deborah Gist left for a job in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Wagner comes to the Ocean State from the New York state education department.

Wagner got his start in education policy at age 18, when he was elected to a local school board in New York. Since then, his education career includes working as school psychologist and middle school principal. 

Governor Gina Raimondo has announced two businessmen to lead the State Council on Elementary and Secondary Education and the State Council on Post-Secondary Education. 

To chair the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, which oversees public schools, Raimondo picked Daniel McConaghy, an executive vice president at Gilbane Building Company.

McConaghy also serves on the board of trustees for LaSalle Academy, a private, Catholic school that counts Raimondo among its lengthy list of prominent graduates.

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