May 10, 2011

Open Thread #3: In the Matter of Ravitch v. Gist

Carroll Andrew Morse

Education reformer Diane Ravitch (mentioned in recent Anchor Rising posts here, here, and here) is publicly asking for an apology from Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist (h/t Jennifer Jordan)...

Last week, I went to Providence, R.I., to give a lecture. Before my arrival, I was invited by Gov. Lincoln Chafee to meet privately with him. Thirty minutes before my hour with Gov. Chafee, I learned that state Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah Gist would join our meeting. As it turned out, I had 10 minutes of private time with the governor, then 50 minutes with Gist and leaders of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers.

I mention all this because of what happened during the 50 minutes. Gist is clearly a very smart, articulate woman. But she dominated the conversation, interrupted me whenever I spoke, and filibustered to use up the limited time. Whenever I raised an issue, she would interrupt to say, "That isn't happening here." She came to talk, not to listen. It became so difficult for me to complete a sentence that at one point, I said, "Hey, guys, you live here all the time, I'm only here for a few hours. Please let me speak." But Gist continued to cut me off. In many years of meeting with public officials, I have never encountered such rudeness and incivility. I am waiting for an apology.

The article mentions that a request for comment from Governor Chafee -- presumably on whether he would characterize Commissioner Gist's behavior as uncivil -- had not been returned at the time it was posted.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

As illustrated in Marc's earlier post, Ravitch has sold out and become a toady for the unions. Nothing she says can be trusted to be true.

Posted by: BobN at May 10, 2011 9:16 PM

"She came to talk, not to listen."

Ah, is that what Diane Ravitch came to Rhode Island to do on her pro-union advocacy tour? Listen and learn from all the different camps about what to do about education? I was under the impression that she had already made up her mind to shill for the detestable status quo and all its special interests, and that she came to Rhode Island to TALK and have people LISTEN to her. Now she's upset that somebody didn't worship her and challenged her anti-intellectual nonsense. She sounds like a pathetic, jealous beta-female teenager crying in the bathroom over being talked over in Yearbook meeting.

"I have never encountered such rudeness and incivility. I am waiting for an apology."

I'm sure that demanding an apology like the petty, antagonistic nitwits on Real Housewives will rectify the situation. That sounds like a mature, well-thought out approach that will get real results.

Posted by: Dan at May 10, 2011 10:15 PM

"Whenever I raised an issue, she would interrupt to say, "That isn't happening here." "

It would be helpful to know what exactly Ms. Ravitch was suggesting that got met with this reaction. Was it, for example, something along the lines of, "The state/city needs to funnel more resources to the problem"?

If so, in view of Rhode Island's very high property taxes and fifth highest state and local tax burden which prove conclusively that money does not equal a good education, Ms. Gist's reaction was spot-on.

Posted by: Monique at May 11, 2011 8:07 AM

Chafee has since told the Projo that Gist was not rude. You have to love the anti-reformists who attacked Gist for only being an elementary school teacher when Ravitch apparently never spent one day teaching in a public or private school system classroom. I'm perplexed as to why Chafee set up this meeting with Gist involved and why it took Ravitch a week to ask for an apology. Maybe Gist was talking over Ravitch's head and she just realized how foolish she looked. I watched her RIC speech and all I heard was reform is from the right, the right is bad, the left is good, and the best approach is maintain the status quo with no accountability. If anyone heard differently, I'm all ears.

Posted by: Max Diesel at May 11, 2011 4:18 PM

"Chafee has since told the Projo that Gist was not rude."

Well, bravo. That was the right thing to do.

Posted by: Monique at May 11, 2011 11:08 PM
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