Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sound public policy or egregious example of pay to play?

BOSTON—Saying education is too important an issue to rush, House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. today called on Governor Deval Patrick to postpone tomorrow’s Board of Education vote regarding Education Commissioner’s Mitchell Chester’s recommendations. On Friday, Commissioner Chester recommended moving away from the state’s already high standards in favor of a national set of standards.

Representative Jones, like many others, is frustrated by not only the timing of this announcement but also the political expedience that seems to accompany the decision. “Governor Patrick’s reelection campaign was just endorsed by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, considered among the most powerful unions in the state, who spent more than $2.5 million on his 2006 election campaign. This decision is either a hasty public policy choice at best or an egregious example of the ultimate pay to play,” said Representative Jones.

In a letter sent to Governor Patrick today, the Republican Leader said, “I hope you will show true leadership and postpone Wednesday’s Board of Education vote in order to provide ample time for public hearings to be held across the state.” The letter went on to say, “Like any major policy decision, inviting public input is a necessary step in the process.”

According to the American Legislative Exchange Council, Massachusetts ranks third in the country in terms of academic excellence. Representative Jones stressed the quality of a Massachusetts public education in his letter to the Governor, saying, “I can appreciate why the large pool of Race to the Top funds would be so enticing to you and your Administration, particularly during these difficult economic times; however, no amount of money justifies the risk of lowering Massachusetts’ public school system standards.”