Tuesday, June 04, 2013

How to Fire an Education Commissioner Without Firing Her

Elisabeth Harrison:

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.

Not picking up Gist's contract at all never seemed a possibility, and a one-year contract is pointless from everyone's point of view... unless you want to fire her without firing her, in which case, that's what you'd do.

So... a three-year contract is a big win for Gist, pushing her well into the next governor's term. A one-year contract is getting rid of her. A two-year contract is a compromise which lets the new governor (or Chafee) make a decision in 2015. Two-year extension seems most likely to me, and the only real bummer is none of the gubernatorial candidates will actually run on replacing her. Chafee is friendliest to teachers in the likely field, and he's kept her this far.

On the other hand, offering her a one year extension and letting her turn it down might lock up teacher support for Chafee while at least giving him a bit of cover, so, we'll see.

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