A Good Thing: House Puts Brakes on Ed Reform Bill

Just when it looked like the Education Reform Act of 2009 was going to speed through the legislative process with virtually no time for public comment or scrutiny, the House of Representatives sensibly put the brakes on the bill’s progress and adjourned. This gives us all time to consider the original bill, Senate amendments and to let our state representatives know what we think.

Longtime Lincoln-Sudbury High history teacher Bill Schechter does a great job in his letter to the editor of the Boston Globe (published Nov. 27, 2009) of articulating why it’s a good thing that someone hit the pause button on this bill.

To the Editor:

A recent Globe editorial criticizes the state House of Representatives for adjourning and urges it to go back into session to pass a “landmark education reform initiative” so that Massachusetts can compete for federal education dollars (“Fix schools and budget – Legislature’s recess can wait,” November 20, 2009).

The bill sped through the state Senate like a legislative bobsled. One would hope that all sincere education reformers remain more committed to chasing good ideas than federal dollars. The Globe is a great champion of charters and was looking to this bill to dramatically lift the cap on their creation. Unfortunately, Globe reportage and editorials over the years have not focused sufficiently on the uneven performance of charters and how their funding formula hurts public schools. The House is to be commended for wanting to examine these issues more carefully.

The recent public disclosure of private emails from Education Secretary Paul Reville concerning a proposed Gloucester charter school suggest that approval was favored despite town opposition, partly in order to assuage Globe editorial writers.

It must be challenging for the Globe to fulfill its journalistic responsibilities to report objectively on charters when it has assumed such a vigorous advocacy role. Informing readers about what is happening behind-the-scenes becomes much more difficult when the paper itself is part of the cast.

Bill Schechter
Brookline MA