So much for it being about the children. Now it’s about party politics.
Just a few hours after I tweeted that Deborah Gist lost control of the narrative about education reform in Rhode Island, she may have found a way to recapture it. The embattled education commissioner will get a plug from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who will lobby local reporters today on her behalf, according to the Providence Journal.
The call from Duncan comes a day after the Providence Journal reported that “Governor Chafee waffled Monday on whether he supports a multiyear contract for state Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist.” It also comes just a few days after President Obama, Duncan’s boss, went out of his way to praise Chafee for becoming a Democrat.
The show of support from the White House puts Chafee in an awkward spot. Locally, labor put him in office but if he’s to stay there it will require lots of help from Obama.
The call puts Chafee in a difficult position. He’s being lobbied hard by teachers and their union representatives to declare the Deborah Gist a wash and replace her.
A spokesperson for Duncan said she did not know about the call. Elliot Krieger, a spokesman for Gist, declined to provide me with a contact number. Effectively, this is Gist’s office trying to control which reporters are allowed to ask Duncan questions.