Just got through with another delightful appearance with my friend and political antagonist Barry Richard on 1420AM WBSM this afternoon talking about the James Comey debacle as well as Senate President Stan Rosenberg’s comments as the keynote for yesterday afternoon’s Education Party at the Omni Parker House. I’m so proud to be a member of the Democrats for Education Reform Advisory Board in Massachusetts — what a great event!
(Here’s a picture of me and Senate President Rosenberg. He’s a former foster kid, too — and we’ve done some work together on the issue in the past.)
I’ll save my comments regarding this disaster of the President and his reckless and alarming shoot-from-the-hip decision making that is throwing our country into chaos for another blog — but I will address some of the interesting tidbits from the Senate President’s remarks on education yesterday:
Senate President Stan Rosenberg told an education group on Tuesday afternoon that his priority is pushing the proposal for a new income tax, which supporters want to have appear on the 2018 statewide ballot, and he worries that other education policy debates, including on a bill supported by the state’s largest teachers union, could hurt the effort.
“My opinion at this point is that we focus on the fair share ballot question that’s coming up in November of ’18, because that $2 billion or so that will be raised will be the major source for funding the future of education,” said Rosenberg. “And anything that distracts from that debate and divides us and doesn’t allow us to move forward successfully on that is, I think, a mistake.”
Rosenberg’s comments came in a question-and-answer session following remarks he delivered to the Massachusetts chapter of Democrats for Education Reform.
He was responding to a question asking his view on a bill supported by the Massachusetts Teachers Association that calls for a three-year moratorium on the use of high-stakes tests, including the 10th grade exam that students must currently pass to graduate from high school. Some view the legislation as the first step in an effort by the teachers union to dismantle the state’s system of education standards and accountability.
Rosenberg’s answer was not what the union wanted to hear. His comment likely pleased many at the luncheon event at the Omni Parker House – Democrats for Education Reform has been a strong supporter of the accountability framework the state put in place with the 1993 Education Reform Act.
This is great news. Without the support of the Senate President, it would seem that a bill filled by Michael Rush of West Roxbury and written completely by the Massachusetts Teachers Association that would kill the testing and accountability system that has made the Commonwealth’s education system #1 in the nation is dead on arrival.
The Senate President was incredibly clear in his remarks: He understands that education reform — including the system of testing and accountability we have build over the last 25 years — is the reason why we have made the advancements we’ve seen in education and why our economy has continued to thrive — even in the worst of times. He also made clear that "Education Reform 2.0" is on the horizon — and a moratorium is NOT on the menu.
(Here’s a picture of me asking Senate President Rosenberg a question about whether it’s important to hear from parents on the issues and whether he is open to listening to their concerns. The answer: A RESOUNDING YES. In fact, it’s more important than anything else!
And my partner-in-crime/fellow blogger Erika Graham Sanzi looks on)
Now, it remains to be seen what "Education Reform 2.0" will actually mean, but overcoming the achievement gap in our gateway cities and among communities of color is a major priority. I would suggest mandating collaboration to stop the turf wars and political tantrums that keep our school communities from engaging in the exchange of ideas that would move things forward for the children in the Commonwealth should be on the menu. As I’ve said before and I’ll say again — parents don’t care what you call a building — district, charter, private, WHATEVER — we want high performing schools for every child. It’s time to stop the bickering and start putting advancing the educational outcomes for our children first instead of the wants of adults in an already bloated system.
All of this is going to take money. That’s why I’m a supporter of the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition and our fight to pass the Fair Share Amendment that would bring more revenue into state coffers. I’m with Stan when he says we need to come together to fight for more funding for our schools — and I think that’s something we can all agree needs to happen sooner than later.
My only worry is that these resources be used for the policies, procedures and programs that have the most direct impact on overcoming the achievement gap for these children who need it the most. Continuing to pad teacher salaries can’t be the only answer. We need a very specific plan for how this money will be used — or we will be losing yet another opportunity to make a real difference in our communities.
Political courage needed. Who is ready? Let’s make a plan, Stan.
What do you think?