Sunday, November 8, 2009

Reville's Weak Tea

Today in Gloucester, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (whose membership is explicitly denied to teachers) met to consider, or re-consider, a charter school application. This application had been found significantly in need of revision. The application was approved anyway, and not long after that an email from Secretary of Education Paul Reville came out saying in part:

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.

From Gloucester to Boston to all points in the Commonwealth, this email was read to indicate that Reville had pushed for this charter for the benefit of Deval Patrick's position re political opinion leaders. Unsurprisingly, this subject came up again at the Board meeting today, and this was Reville's explanation for his remarks:

He said the e-mail was “one piece of a lengthy conversation’’ that education officials had while discussing applications for charter schools proposed for Gloucester, Waltham and Worcester, his hometown...He added that the e-mail was part of the “process of deliberations. We all get advice from staff on a variety of issues.’’

I don't doubt all of this is true. I don't doubt that there was a long conversation which prompted this statement -- and I have trouble imagining that conversation to be about anything other than Governor Patrick's political fortunes. The opinion of the Boston Globe is at best orthogonal to choosing which policy outcomes will benefit students. No, this advice and conversation was political. And Reville says nothing at all to change that consideration -- he refuses to say what type of advice he was seeking to elicit this reaction, or what wider subject was under deliberation. Heck, a criminal could say that a recent bank robbery was part of his more general retirement plan...that doesn't make it acceptable.

Given a significant amount of time Reville had to prepare some sort of defense for these egregious actions, he offers something short of satisfying. While getting points for a reluctance to outright lie, Reville clearly cannot bother to find some way to make this statement at all appropriate to a Secretary of Education.

This tells me that A-Reville knows there is no good defense for what he did, and B-Deval Patrick doesn't care, and will keep him on regardless.


Anonymous said...

Gloucester, Charter Schools, and the Smartest Man in the Room
by: David Whelan

Yesterday I attended the charter school hearing in Gloucester. What happened at that meeting had little to do with charter schools and everything to do with politics, arrogance, lawyers, and agendas. As a former school committee member and two year Chair of the Swampscott School Committee I have a passion for public education and have witnessed the hypocrisy of the Patrick administration. I have been on the front lines in the battle to get fair and equitable funding for my community. My post is not about the merits of charters. My post is about fraud, arrogance, patronage, and fiscal irresponsibility. My post is about the incompetence of Deval's education team.

Today's Globe (not exactly a conservative voice) includes a story about waste and excess in Deval's transportation departments. Reading the story left me with the perception that all of the excesses of state government occurred with the willing participation of Deval Patrick. While the Governor talks repeatedly about deficits and the need to "tighten the belt," it appears that the memo never was received by the Governor.

As I said before, yesterday's meeting in Gloucester was not about charter schools. It was about Paul Reville, Mitchell Chester, and the Board of Ed's insistence upon having its' way regardless of facts. The meeting was about Paul Reville's insistence that he is "the smartest man in every room." The meeting was about lawyers, money, and politics. The meeting had nothing to do with kids!

In spite of an apology from Reville, an apology that should include his resignation, the damage is done. Will there ever be another charter approved or dismissed with this cast of characters making the decision that will not be view through the prism of politics?

Finally, how convenient is it that the handpicked attorney hired to advise the BOE on how they fix their self inflicted mess determined that the BOE has little recourse. What's done is done to paraphrase their less than impressive and confusing counsel. So as the BOE sits around trying to figure out how to fix their own mess, those of us that give a damn about public education get to sit back and watch the Commonwealth piss away much needed dollars on friends and neighbors of Deval and his inner circle. Wouldn't it be nice if the BOE actually spent a moment in time trying to figure out how to fairly and effectively educate our kids? Instead we get hearings about process and news accounts about a job's program for friends of Deval. By the way, how long before they blame either Mitt Romney or the recession?

Can November 2010 get here soon enough?

Anonymous said...

Today in a facebook chat, Rep Dan Bosley blamed Mitt Romney for the transportation issues. Bosley is part of the problem if he continues to find fault in the Romney administration after three years of Deval Patrick. Or was it Romney that hired all of Deval's friends and neighbors?

David P. Whelan, Jr.