Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Deval Patrick proposes expanding the Board of Education

The governor has proposed expanding the board of education from 9 to 13 members, with the goal of expanding his authority over the Department of Education to match his responsibility as a governor who has chosen to make education reform one of his primary objectives.

I don't like this move as a political means to overcome an independent board, but I do support the governor's objective, and there is some historical context to support the move, both very recent (outgoing governor Romney stacked the board with two new appointees on his way out the door), and relatively recent (Governor Weld dissolved the existing board and cut the board from 17 to 9 members in 1996).

It appears that the Massachusetts Senate also supports the objective of shaking up the existing Board of Education, given that the Governor's action was at a committee hearing for an initiative sponsored by the chair of the Senate Education Committee.

A couple of letters to the editor of the Boston Globe this week shed more light on the issues.

Ed board shuffle: a lesson in irony, on how the Board of Ed was restructured in 1996, with the reconstituted board dominated by conservative think-tank appointees affiliated with the Pioneer Institute.

Schools beset by regulations, by the executive director of the Mass Association of School Committees, expressing concerns about the regulatory burden put in place by the now status-quo board of ed.

Last month's newspaper headlines blasting Deval Patrick for appointing a parent representative approved by the PTA and school committees appeared to me to be a preemptive strike in support of the existing board of education and a warning to the governor regarding the appointment of the next commissioner of education.

I think it is interesting to see the Boston Globe at least allowing letters to the editor expressing a more expansive view, rather than a followup editorial chalking up a second strike against the governor in his actions regarding the board of education. "First he appoints Ruth Kaplan, and now this!". Maybe the Globe's Pioneer delegate has gone sailing for the holiday.

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