October 26, 2014
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Gist hired to lead education system, not teachers
My take on the news
Lonnie Barham

GIST NEEDS TO STAY:  About 600 teachers gathered on Monday to demand the State Board of Education deny Education Commissioner Deborah Gist a renewed contract.  Teachers are upset because Gist has convinced most Rhode Islanders that teachers’ performance should be evaluated every year; that part of those evaluations should be based on whether or not teachers’ students pass standardized tests; and that teachers should be hired and assigned based on merit instead of seniority.  

The teachers say that Gist isn’t “leading” them since most teachers aren’t “following” her.  Well, Commissioner Gist was not hired to lead teachers.  She was hired to lead our education system to proficiency; that includes the entire system - students, parents, educators, legislators, etc. - not just teachers.  And, by all measurements, she is doing a great job. 

Teachers complain that requiring students to test “partially proficient” on a standardized test in order to graduate may prevent 4,000 students from graduating each year.  Well, that’s the purpose of the test; to determine whether or not a student has gained sufficient proficiency to function in the work force as a high school graduate.  Should we graduate students who haven’t even shown partial proficiency in those skills needed by employers?  It would be like giving driver’s licenses to applicants who have not shown even partial proficiency behind the wheel.

In every facet of life, we must all be held accountable for our actions or inactions.  In this case, students must be held accountable for learning, teachers must be held accountable for teaching, and the Commissioner must be held accountable for improving our education system.  Most students are succeeding, most teachers are successfully preparing students, and Commissioner Gist is performing superbly.  We must keep her!

 

CICILLINE’S FALSEHOOD POINTS TO ANOTHER R.I. LOW: U.S. Representative David Cicilline, being interviewed on WPRI’s Newsmakers, made an egregiously false statement about Social Security as he railed against high earning Americans whose income levels put them above the “max tax” level of $113,700, the income level above which no Social Security taxes are withheld. In his argument to increase Social Security taxes on high earners, Cicilline claimed that far more of America’s total income than in previous years now falls into that no-tax category. The Providence Journal’s PolitiFact found his statement to be false. The figure has averaged 17 percent since the founding of Social Security.

What came out of the investigation, however, points to another area where Rhode Island fares the worst in the nation. While across the nation six percent of Americans earn above $113,700 per year and enjoy having at least some of their income exempt from Social Security taxes, in Rhode Island only 1.6 percent fall into that income strata - the lowest of any state in the union. This seems to show that our state’s pro-tax, anti-business, anti-wealth policies have run high earners away. Instead of railing against high earners and trying to raise their taxes, Cicilline should be trying to pass legislation that would help Rhode Island create a business-friendly atmosphere that attracts high earners.

OBAMA: “THE BUCK DOESN’T STOP HERE!” Oh, but for the days of President Harry Truman! Back when the president actually accepted responsibility for the actions of his underlings and a sign on the president’s desk said, “The Buck Stops Here.” President Obama is content to pass the buck down the chain of command almost every day in almost every embarrassing situation. Not only does he pass the buck, he encourages his staff and cabinet members to pass the buck even further down the line.

So, President Obama wasn’t aware that his state department and CIA acted together to initially deceive the American people about what happened in the deadly attack on our consulate in Benghazi, and his secretary of state and CIA Director were also not involved.  And, President Obama says he wasn’t aware of the IRS practice of targeting conservative groups. And, of course, his treasury secretary was also in the dark.  President Obama also says he wasn’t aware that his justice department was seizing reporters’ phone records and his attorney general knew nothing about it either.

To make things worse, Obama says he wasn’t aware of the IRS issue until he read it in the papers the same time the American people did. What a crock! We now know that his IRS commissioner and deputy treasury secretary were aware months ago and that his White House chief of staff and chief lawyer were aware weeks ago. Yet, no one told the president about such an embarrassing news event that was about to unfold? Either Obama lied to America or he has had his head in the sand. Most Americans would say he lied!

One of two things is happening here. Either President Obama is leading a group of totally bungling White House staff and cabinet members who are allowing their subordinates and other underlings to bungle things just as badly, or President Obama is saying to his staff and cabinet members, “Commit dirty political tricks but don’t tell me about them, and try to insulate yourselves, also.”

Which is worse, presidential ineptitude or presidential skullduggery? Either way, the American people suffer and our constitutional republic is in danger!  

   

 

LOCAL QUOTES OF THE WEEK: “It’s a troubling pattern for those who thought we’d have a fundamentally better civil liberties atmosphere than under the Bush administration. It’s more than just a chilling effect. It’s saying...you can’t talk to reporters in confidence or we will get you,” said David A. Logan, dean of the Roger Williams University School of Law, while speaking to the Providence Journal on the Obama administration’s unprecedented, Nixon-like invasion of reporters’ phone records.

Also to the Journal, WJAR Channel 10’s Jim Taricani: “That is not what our country is about. It smacks of totalitarian regimes around the world where the press is either a tool of the government or suppressed by the government.” And Linda Lotridge Levin, secretary of the Rhode Island Press Association, in the same news article: “This is something Russia would do, not the United States.”

Perhaps now the news media’s love affair with President Obama may be over. Perhaps objective journalism about the Obama administration may now be forthcoming. Don’t hold your breath, though.


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