One day after releasing a report showing that African Americans in the state are disproportionately arrested for marijuana possession, the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is out with a report showing a racial disparity in school suspensions.
The civil rights group stopped short of calling it racial profiling, but says the issue is something education leaders need to study and correct.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Rhode Islanders should look at progress made in its schools while weighing the fate of state education commissioner Deborah Gist. Duncan made the comment on a conference call with Rhode Island reporters.
In a call of support for Gist, Duncan touted rising test scores and graduation rates as signs that the state is making progress. Teachers and parents have been outspoken in their opposition to Gist. But Duncan defends her, calling her collaborative.
Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is likely to learn Thursday whether her contract is being renewed and for how long.
Deborah Gist has been a target of criticism lately from some teachers and students who say they don’t like her leadership style and they disagree with her focus on test scores. Now that her contract is expiring, there’s speculation the State Board of Education will offer a one-year extension, instead of a three-year contract. Gist says that would be difficult to accept.
A controversial new state policy says high school students in Rhode Island need a score of 2 or better on standardized state testing to graduate. That’s only partially proficient, but thousands of students didn’t make the grade when they took the test last fall. School districts are now working to get those students up to speed so they can meet this new requirement. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Education Reporter Elisabeth Harrison sat down with a district official and a Math teacher in Cranston to find out how it’s going.