Rhode Island Governor Picks New York Latina, ELL Expert to Serve as Next Commissioner

By Daarel Burnette II — March 19, 2019 1 min read
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Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, recommended Angélica Infante-Green, a veteran New York educator, expert on English-language learner communities, and first-generation immigrant to serve as the state’s next commissioner of education.

If approved by the state’s board of education, she will replace Commissioner Ken Wagner, who has served as the state education chief since 2015.

“This is an important, exciting moment in Rhode Island education,” Infante-Green said in a statement, according to local media reports. “The foundation is in place, and we we must have the courage and collective will to act boldly on behalf of all of our students.”

Infante-Green, the daughter of Dominican immigrants, received her undergraduate degree in architecture but, after college, decided to switch careers after a Teach for America stint as a dual-language teacher in the South Bronx. She rose through the ranks in New York City schools, serving as a dual-language project director, the founder of a school for recent immigrant arrivals, and the associate commissioner for bilingual education and world languages.

She currently serves as the deputy commissioner with the New York Education Department’s office ofiInstructional support.

She will start on April 29.

Many in New York thought she should be the chancellor of New York City schools and she was a finalist earlier last year for Massachusetts’ commissioner.

Rhode Island is in the middle of a wide-ranging debate over what it needs to do to improve its school system. Recent test results show that its students perform significantly worse than Massachusetts students do.

“This is our truth-telling moment,” Ken Wagner, Rhode Island’s superintendent said shortly after the release of the test scores, according to local media reports. “There’s no surprise we have tons of work to do. Massachusetts students aren’t smarter than ours. They’ve just been doing the work for the past 25 years. We’ve been doing pieces of it, but we haven’t stuck with it. We haven’t all been on the same page like Massachusetts has.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.