Posted by: Providence Chamber of Commerce | October 7, 2011

“How’s School?”

The Future of Education in Rhode Island, a forum sponsored by RIPEC and Fidelity Investments, kicked off the one year anniversary of the Race to the Top Award with a roll-out of updates which included perspectives from panelists of educators, union officials and school administrators.

RI Department of Education Commissioner Deborah Gist presented an overview of the unique challenges in transitioning to Common Core State Standards and highlighted the steady, incremental advancements that have been made to date in reading, math and science (especially high school science!)  She also spoke of the creation of useful data systems and the significant improvements these information systems provide for effective, thoughtful applications.  Addressing achievement gaps are a continuing priority for the upcoming year.

Commissioner Gist reiterated her goal of “creating a culture of responsibility and a climate of belief” within the RI public school system.  In addressing the political climate surrounding RI’s public education system, Gist summed it up with this remark: “Although we have differing philosophies in how to achieve student success, at the end of the day, we are on solid ground in knowing that we all want the same thing –RI school children provided with the skills, knowledge and abilities for future success.  We can not have a strong, healthy economy without a strong foundation in our education system.”

Other guest speakers and panelists included:  John Simmons, Executive Director of RI Public Expenditure Council; John Muggeridge, Vice President of Public Affairs, Fidelity Investments; Joseph Amaral, Principal, Portsmouth Middle School; Michael Comella, Secondary Math Intervention Specialist, Providence; Shannon Donovan, Science Teacher, Scituate High School and current RI Teacher of the Year; Bob O’Brien, Superintendent, Smithfield Public Schools; Paula Shannon, Acting Chief Academic Officer, Providence; Melinda Smith, Director of Curriculum, Lincoln; Timothy Duffy, Executive Director RI Association of School Committees; Francis Flynn, President, RI Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals; Donna Ottaviano, Ed.D, President, RI School Superintendents Association; and Robert Walsh, Jr., Executive Director, National Education Association, RI.


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