Jean Ann Guliano is the Robert McNamara of the Rhode Island ed reform movement, said our mutual friend Bob Houghtaling. It’s a good analogy. Diane Ravitch works too.
Guliano is a former school committee chairwoman from East Greenwich who ran for Lt. Gov. on the Moderate Party ticket. As chairwoman, she was very fiscally conservative – at one time she tried to outsource school custodians. She was also a big fan Deborah Gist fan and Race to the Top supporter. (who in East Greenwich wouldn’t want to race the likes of Central Falls and Woonsocket to the top).
She also has a son with autism. He’s one of those kids who might not fare so well on a standardized test. But he’s certainly smart enough to warrant a high school diploma. And Guliano is far and away smart enough to help him through that situation. The issue, as I see it, is not every kid with autism has a smart, politically connected and hard-working mom like Guliano.
Here’s how she put it in a recent GoLocal post:
As a former school committee member, business person and interested parent, I was an early supporter of Race to the Top and Commissioner Gist when she came on board in 2009. I also signed off for my district on the RTTT application. The goals sounded promising. Who wouldn’t want every child to receive an excellent education? Many of the numerous high profile goals of RTTT, especially those that have appealed to the business and political community, have been vigorously addressed. These include areas such as funding reliability, increase in charter schools, elimination of seniority-based promotion, teacher evaluation systems, data gathering, progress monitoring, accountability, etc.
However, with all of these accomplishments, the one thing that has not improved is the outcomes for our most vulnerable students. The original goals of both No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top were not about turning schools into businesses or testing companies into a cottage industry. They were about improving the educational outcomes for those students on the fringe – those who are economically disadvantaged, have limited English proficiency and special needs. These students generally don’t have powerful lobbyists. Businesses don’t necessarily line up to hire these students, and even schools even know that these are the students who bring down their test scores.