2010 was a banner year for education reform in Rhode Island, due in large part to the state’s thoughtful plan for transforming its public schools. This plan, crafted by Education Commissioner Deborah Gist and the Board of Regents, was so good it landed the state $75 million in federal dollars through the Race to the Top competition. Yet in 2011, the tide turned. A new governor skeptical of Race to the Top was set to replace the Board of Regents. The fate of Commissioner Deborah Gist and Rhode Island’s visionary strategic plan was in danger.
Have Rhode Islanders and national leaders all sign an open letter to Governor Chafee urging him to only nominate members to the Board of Regents who would be committed to keeping up the momentum of education reform sparked by the previous Board.
Over 700 Rhode Islanders signed the open letter in just a few short weeks, as well as the likes of former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, Florida Governor Jeb Bush and philanthropist Eli Broad. The end of the campaign six months later found Commissioner Gist still in office, pursuing her plan.