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Governor Chafee names working group for Educator Autonomy Project

17-member team to submit proposals for greater flexibility in schools, districts

Committed to seeking out new ways to provide greater autonomy and flexibility for teachers, principals, and superintendents, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee, along with the Board of Education and the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), has appointed a 17-member working group to manage the Educator Autonomy Project.

Led by co-chairs Yanaiza Gallant, a Rhode Island Milken Educator Award winner, and Patricia Page, the 2014 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year, the working group will meet monthly in sessions open to the public and by the end of June will submit to Governor Chafee recommendations for action.

"The objective of the Educator Autonomy Working Group is to make specific recommendations on ways we can increase innovation in the classroom and provide more flexibility for teachers, principals, and superintendents in order to improve the learning experiences for all Rhode Island students," Governor Chafee said. "I believe that these recommendations will assist us on the road to creating world-class education for the students of Rhode Island."

"As we focus our statewide efforts on improving student learning and achievement, we know that our educators – teachers, school leaders, and district leaders – want what is best for our students," said Eva-Marie Mancuso, Chair of the Board of Education. "With that principle in mind, we believe that decisions about education should be made as close to the student level as is practical and effective. Granting educators opportunities for autonomy will move us closer to that goal."

"Many of our most important initiatives over the past four years, such as our statewide transition to the Common Core State Standards and implementing the induction program for new teachers, have involved educators in their development but have emanated from the state level," said Deborah A. Gist, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. "As these initiatives take root in our schools, we need to shift the focus and find new ways to improve teaching and learning in our classrooms. The Educator Autonomy Project is a major step toward further empowering teachers and school leaders – and toward transforming education in Rhode Island."

The timeline for the project will encompass three phases: first, building a common understanding about the issue of autonomy and the barriers to effective teaching and learning in Rhode Island; second, determining areas for recommendations, including potential changes in governance; finally, developing specific recommendations to present to Governor Chafee.

The members of the Working Group are:

• Christina Batastini, Policy and Legislative Analyst, Office of the Governor • Ron Beaupre, Pawtucket teacher and President, Pawtucket Teachers' Alliance • Karen Castagno, Interim Dean, Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, Rhode Island College • Susan Chin, Principal, Veazie Street Elementary School, Providence • Rob DeBlois, Director, Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program • Tim Duffy, Executive Director, Rhode Island Association of School Committees • Yanaiza Gallant, co-chair, Principal Intern at the Burrillville Middle School and the 2012 Rhode Island Milken Educator Award Winner • Deborah A. Gist, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education • Patrick A. Guida, Vice-Chair, Board of Education • Pierre LaPerriere, Vice President and Director of Human Resources, Gilbane, Inc. • Valerie Lawson, East Providence teacher and Vice President, National Education Association of Rhode Island • Robert O'Brien, Superintendent, Smithfield Public Schools • Patricia Page, co-chair, East Greenwich teacher and 2014 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year • Rick M. Quiles, Pediatrician, Park Pediatrics, Cranston • Julian Santiago, Senior, Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School, Providence • Carolyn Sheehan, Director, Blackstone Academy • Alan J. Tenreiro, Principal, Cumberland High School

The first meeting of the working group is scheduled for Tomorrow (December 3), at 4:30 p.m., at the RIDE offices (255 Westminster St., 80 Washington St., Providence). The meeting will be open to the public.

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