Monday, September 16, 2013

Not another phase, please: a gubernatorial wish list

I see from today's announcement over on Blue Mass Group from Martha Coakley that she's seeking the Governor's office that education might actually be an issue in this race:
 And we need to launch the next phase of education reform in this state so that every child and every adult has the skills they need to compete in a global economy.
 Yeah, yeah, I know: it's a year off and you really don't want to spend the next entire year talking about this. If we're going to, though, wouldn't it be good if we talked about real things that matter? Besides, at least it's not the next Presidential election of 2016!

Let's first recognize that it would be nice to have the statewide governor's race involve education as an actual issue that people talked about in a meaningful and knowledgeable way. We haven't had much of that, and some of the decisions that have been made in recent years reflect that: the last round of educations shifts came entirely in response to the state seeking the federal Race to the Top grant; the 1993 changes came in response to a lawsuit over state funding brought by cities seeking funding equity. It's been dismaying to sit in state Board of Education meetings and hear presentation after presentation, each of which is simply lockstep with whatever the latest federal initiative is.

I mean it when I say "meaningful and knowledgeable," though. Some of what's circulating in the Boston press on the mayoral race out there is simply ignorant of research or of anything beyond "truisms" like "charter schools are engines of innovation" and "public school teachers resist change" and "public education spends too much money."
No, no, and no.
I would dearly love to see gubernatorial campaigns that actually knew the research, whether it's the attrition rate of charter schools (across the state), or the innovations that public school teachers have invented and embraced, or the enormous gulf that exists in education funding to this day.

Maybe it's a little early for a Christmas list, but I don't think it's too early to ask:

  • May we be granted gubernatorial candidates that know, understand, and can cite the Mass Budget and Policy Center report on Chapter 70 (PLEASE!). 
  • May we be granted candidates that have some clue of what twenty years of ed reform have actually done to education in the state.
  • May we be granted candidates that have a clear-eyed view of the impact of poverty on our children.
  • May we be granted candidates who don't believe the names of organizations (whether they call themselves Democrats or those who Stand for something), but look at what those organizations actually do...and from whom they take their money.
  • May we be granted candidates that don't talk to parents but LISTEN to them; that don't talk of teachers but LISTEN to them; that don't refer to children but LISTEN to them...about not just education, but those things that surround education

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