Rhode Island Federation of Teacher and Healthcare Professionals
356 Smith Street, Providence, Rl 02908
P (401) 273-9800 F (401) 331-8815

RI Teachers Issue Stinging Indictment of Commissioner Gist


85% of Teachers Believe Her Contract Should Not Be Renewed


Providence, R.I. - An independent survey of Rhode Island’s public school classroom teachers today offered a stinging indictment of the leadership of Deborah Gist as the state’s Education Commissioner. The survey, conducted by Fleming and Associates from April 22 to April 24, consisted of a telephone survey of 402 randomly selected Rhode Island public school teachers. The entire survey is attached.



Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals President Frank Flynn stated, “For too long Commissioner Gist has spoken of her support among classroom teachers. We decided to put that notion to an independent test. This survey found that she is not supported by classroom teachers. In fact, there is overwhelming evidence that her leadership is almost universally rejected.”


The survey highlights speak for themselves:


  • 82% of RI’s classroom teachers feel less respected today than they did when Commissioner Gist started a few years ago.
  • Commissioner Gist’s highly touted Race To The Top initiative has been nothing short of a disaster for RI education. Classroom teachers, in overwhelming numbers, felt it was somewhat ineffective 22%) or a waste of money (60%).
  • Teacher morale is abysmal under Commissioner Gist. Classroom teachers, at the rate of 68%, thought morale was poor, and 22% just fair. A remarkable 88% of teachers feel morale is unacceptable in RI schools today.
  • When asked about Commissioner Gist’s communication with teachers, the teachers responded that it was 63% poor and 27% fair. Only 8% thought her communication with teachers was excellent or good.
  • 72% of teachers believe the NECAP test should not be a requirement for graduation from high school.
  • When asked if Commissioner Gist’s contract should be renewed in June, teachers responded 85% no and only 7% yes.


Robert Walsh, Executive Director of the National Education Association Rhode Island, concluded, “It is imperative that RI’s classroom teachers be heard on the important matter of Commissioner Gist’s contract renewal. On behalf of RI’s roughly 10,500 public school teachers, we are calling on Governor Chafee and the Rhode Island Board of Education to hold a public forum on this important matter. These results go far beyond a simple ‘no confidence’ vote in Commissioner Gist’s leadership. They spell out a serious need to immediately address the lack of leadership facing Rhode Island’s education community today.“


To view the press Release and Survey results, click here.