Deborah Gist

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. 

With Education Commissioner Deborah Gist posting on Facebook that she has left her her job, who is in charge of the Rhode Island Department of Education?

Steve Nardelli, executive director of the R.I. League of Charter Schools, is retiring at the end of June. His post will be assumed by Timothy Groves, former development officer at the R.I. Foundation.

Nardelli has had a long career in Rhode Island education circles, serving as a public school teacher and coach. He was executive director of legislative relations at the Rhode Island Department of Education, where he carved a reputation as an effective Statehouse lobbyist.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Students in Rhode Island will take shorter standardized tests next year. 

The multi-state governing board that oversees the so-called PARCC tests, voted Wednesday to shorten testing by about 90 minutes. The change comes following criticism from teachers over the lengthy nature of the test.

The number of babies born with exposure to opioid drugs and alcohol nearly doubled in Rhode Island between 2006 and 2013. 

That’s one of the more startling facts in the new Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook. Executive Director Elizabeth Burke-Bryant said unlike earlier drug problems, this one is not concentrated in urban areas.

“90 percent of babies born with drugs in their system, were born to white mothers and 32 percent lived in the four core cities, which means the majority of these cases are spread to the rest of Rhode Island,” said Bryant.

Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island is looking for a new leader for K-12 public schools as controversy grows over standardized testing and charter schools. So what do students want from the next commissioner of education?

Rhode Island Public Radio education reporter Elisabeth Harrison asked that question of three Providence students: 16-year-old Kendall Hall, 16-year-old Diane Gonzales and 15-year-old Xilian Sansoucy. They are members of the student advocacy groups Young Voices and the Providence Student Union.

Lawyer and former state Supreme Court justice Robert Flanders joins Bonus Q+A this week to discuss the state pension dispute, government reform, Providence finances, public education, and more.

For more Flanders, listen to his conversation with us on Political Roundtable.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is about to step down to become superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools. Before she leaves, she reflected on her tenure with Rhode Island Public Radio’s education reporter Elisabeth Harrison. Gist says she made the right move delaying test scores for teacher evaluations. But she was disappointed lawmakers voted to delay using test scores for a high school diploma.

Catherine Welch

Governor Gina Raimondo began a series of what her office is calling "listening sessions" as part of the search for a new state commissioner of education.

Rhode Island Public Radio's Elisabeth Harrison reports the governor convened a group of teachers, principals, charter school leaders and district leaders for an invitiation-only event.

About 20 people gathered around tables in a Providence elementary school classroom to give feedback on the search for a new education commissioner.

The event was by invitation only, with guests hand-picked by the governor’s office.

taylor.a

On of the state's two teachers' unions is calling for parents to get better information about how to opt out of standardized tests.

In a resolution, the executive committee of the National Education Association Rhode Island says the state and local districts should provide written information to parents about their right to remove children from testing.

The resolution stresses that teachers have a free speech right to talk to parents about opting out of testing, including the new multi-state test known as PARCC.

The pit of winter has settled over Rhode Island, judging by the combination of snow and sub-freezing temperatures. The governor used the recent blizzard to remind us we're supposed to be hardy, so no mewling here. Instead, we offer thanks for your visit here, welcome your tips and thoughts at idonnis (at) ripr (org), and invite you to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Big changes are in the offing for Rhode Island public education policy. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what’s at stake.

After six years as Rhode Island’s top education guru, education commissioner Deborah Gist is headed to her native Tulsa to become school superintendent. Eva-Marie Mancuso, chairwoman of the state education board, is out. Barbara Cottam is slated to become the new leader of the board as Gov. Gina Raimondo puts her stamp on arguably the most important mission of government, educating  the young.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Developer, real estate owner and former mayor Joseph R. Paolino Jr. joins Political Roundtable to discuss his contingent agreement to buy Newport Grand; the pending exit of Education Commissioner Deborah Gist; and Governor Gina Raimondo's moves to remake the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission.

Chair of the state’s board of education said Tulsa is lucky to land Deborah Gist as its next superintendent of schools. Board chair Eva-Marie Mancuso calls Gist a forward thinker and someone easy to work with.

Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has gotten the votes to become Tulsa's superintendent of schools.

In a statement, Gist said it was a difficult decision, but she welcomed the opportunity to lead an urban school district.

She also noted that Tulsa is where her family lives.

"I know that Rhode Islanders can certainly recognize the attraction we have to our hometowns, and it would be a special honor for me to lead the district where I attended public school throughout my childhood," Gist wrote.

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