Business leaders are coming out in support of Deborah Gist, the state’s controversial education commissioner. The Providence Journal reports that two dozen business organizations have asked the State Board of Education to renew Gist’s contract, which is currently under review.
Gist has won praise for bringing Rhode Island a $75 million federal Race to the Top grant and for her tough stance on teacher evaluations and hiring practices. Critics, however, say she is too focused on test scores and has ignored the concerns of teachers. Gist’s most vocal critics include teachers’ union leaders and students from an advocacy group in Providence.
The State Board of Education is in talks about what process it will use to review Gist's performance. Both Governor Lincoln Chafee and the chair of the board have indicated they support extending her contract.