Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fire Paul Reville. Now.

When the Governor and his associates waded into a local decision about charter schools in Gloucester, residents were properly outraged. From the mayor on down, local officials with the best understanding of the needs of Gloucester students had rejected the idea of opening a somewhat-public school in the city. Deval's desire to promote the privatization of education in the form of charters was in the ascendant, however, and Patrick demanded that local officials re-examine this charter application until they came up with the answer Deval wanted. An answer that will cost Gloucester $2.4 million in diverted school fees.

At first, I thought this routine merely the product of somebody who hadn't spent any real time in a public school for over 40 years, elected on a platform that pretty much ignored education. Politicians like that typically use charter schools in place of a real program on education because they remain quite frankly ignorant of the real issues. Turns out, I was being generous. An email from Deval's charter-loving secretary of education Paul Reville makes this clear:

This situation presents one of those painful dilemmas. In addition to being a no-win situation, it forces us into a political cul de sac where we could be permanently trapped. Our reality is that we have to show some sympathy in this group of charters or we'll get permanently labeled as hostile and they will cripple us with a number of key moderate allies like the Globe and the Boston Foundation. Frankly, I'd rather fight for the kids in the Waltham situation, but it sounds like you can't find a solid basis for standing behind that one. I'm not inclined to push Worcester, so that leaves Gloucester. My inclination is to think that you, I and the Governor all need to send at least one positive signal in this batch, and I gather that you think the best candidate is Gloucester.

From this we can see a few things:
1 - The "political cul de sac" receives far more attention than the actual good of the students at stake. Reville is clearly used to making educational decision for the good of his boss's poll numbers.
2 - They think the Boston Foundation is moderate.
3 - Promotion of private charters inherently represents "fighting for the kids".
4 - Charter decision are based upon who Reville is personally "inclined to push" for, not educational data.

To reiterate -- the City of Gloucester is losing $2.4 million because Deval Patrick's team is concerned about his ability to win re-election. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is moving $2.4 million of our tax dollars from the city of Gloucester to a semi-public concern in order to court the Boston Globe.

Deval Patrick has a Bush-like inability to back down from personnel mistakes without an incredible amount of pressure (see Marian Walsh and Jim Aloisi). Hopefully people will realize that his decision to turn the DESE into a lever for his sagging poll numbers is not acceptable. Firing Paul Reville would be a good first step.

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