August 26, 2009

Gist Reacts to RI SAT Scores

Justin Katz

State Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is still in what may be termed a discovery phase of her new job — working her way through Rhode Island's abysmal statistics. To the extent that process is made public, she's already doing important work, and today, she's put our low SAT scores on the front page of the Providence Journal:

Gist said that she is also disappointed that the percentage of public school students taking the voluntary test is so low, at just 54 percent.

(About 2,800 private and parochial school students also took the SAT, raising the statewide average by about 10 points per subject.)

Usually, test scores drop as the number of students taking the test increases. Rhode Island, Gist said, suffers from lackluster scores even with a frustratingly low number of students aspiring to take the test — a requirement for most colleges.

As we showed, here, last August, Rhode Island joins an average median income (by national standards) with high public school teacher pay, high private school attendance, low public school SAT scores, and high private school SAT scores. Every marker points to a systemic problem, originating with teachers unions. That's why I hope the following comment from Gist is more political flourish than indication of dogma on which she'll premise future actions:

"We need to make sure we are developing and supporting teachers," she said, "and we need to make sure we are moving out educators who are not serving students well, which I believe is a small percentage of teachers."

A "small percentage of teachers" have dragged Rhode Island's SAT scores to their current standing as the worst in New England? I don't think so.

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I've always loved the way the teachers unions talk out of both sides of their mouthes - their "story" changing as situationally convenient.

1. "We need high pay to attract and retrain high quality teachers."

2. "The classroom teacher is critical."

Then the contradictory ...

3. "Teachers must be paid (and selected for layoff) based upon seniority, not merit."

4. "Poor results aren't the teachers' fault - it's demographics."

If demographics is destiny, then we don't need to concern ourselves with "high pay" for "high quality" teachers.

Conversely, if classroom teachers can overcome demographic challenges, then Rhode Island's highly paid teachers clearly aren't up to the task ... so our high pay isn't attracting high quality teachers and we should not be paying / selecting for lay-off based upon seniority.

Posted by: Tom W at August 26, 2009 8:49 AM

Let the woman work. If the job simply involved bashing unions (and I sense a disappointment that Ms. Gist has an agenda which goes beyond that), ask Carcieri to hire one of those skilled attorneys at King & Ballow instead.
Put a bug in DePetro's ear, and I'm sure the Don will run this creeping socialist out of Rhode Island STAT.

Posted by: rhody at August 26, 2009 9:19 AM

Come on Tom, talking out of both sides of one's mouth is prerequisite for landing a union rep position, that and a heady dose of hypocrisy and a poor grasp of those pesky things called facts.

Does anyone know how to find the SAT scores for RIs private schools? They were mentioned in the article but I don't see them in the report.

Posted by: Frank at August 26, 2009 9:40 AM

Shocking, I say, simply shocking!! Especially when considering the following:

- Rhode Island has the second lowest ratio of students to teachers in the United States: (10.34 per teacher versus U.S. average of 15.5 students per teacher.)
- Rhode Island has the ninth highest teacher salaries in the United States.
- Rhode Island has 50% more special education students than U.S. averages.
- Rhode Island's cost per special education student is 30% higher than U.S. averages.
- Rhode Island ranks in the lowest 25% in educational accomplishments in most topics. There are no Rhode Island educational accomplishments in the top 50% compared to either national or New England results including grade school, middle school, and high school. Rhode Island generally does not perform inter-state comparisons, probably because the results are unfavorable.
- Rhode Island has the largest number of school districts per capita in the United States with 36 school districts for a state with 1,050,000 in population. That is equal to one school district for every 29,166 people.

- The entire state of Rhode Island has a population roughly to the size of San Antonio, Texas. Yet San Antonio runs more schools for less money and with much better academic results than Rhode Island.

Might this have something to do with this......?

- Rhode Island is the only New England state that does not treat union membership as a conflict of interest for the General Assembly, town councils, or school board votes. The fact that union members participate on both sides of the bargaining table explains the state's unsustainable pensions and high school costs.

Which results in this......

- Rhode Island government pensions are 38% higher than New England averages and are among the highest in the United States.

- Over a typical 24-year retirement period, Rhode Island government retirees will earn about $750,000 more than retirees in other New England states.

- Rhode Island government pensions are the only ones in New England with 3% annual cost of living (COLA) increases.

18. Rhode Island has more state, municipal, and school union employees per capita than any other England New state.

Of course, this.....

- Rhode Island has a higher percentage of elected Democrats than any other state.

Gets you this....

- Rhode Island has the shortest eligibility wait period for welfare in New England.

- Rhode Island has the longest payout period for welfare in New England.

- Rhode Island spends more money per capita on welfare than any other New England state.

Meaning there is no money left for this...

12. Rhode Island is the only state that lacks a school funding formula for providing state aid to local school districts.

When are the stupid voters of this state going to wake up and do something about our very clear and obvious problems??
There is nothing left to talk about. The only thing left to do is take action and smash this perverted culture of corruption. It's time for a revolution!!

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at August 26, 2009 1:11 PM
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