Bored with education progress

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It was something of a blast from the past that Governor Patrick appointed Paul Reville to chair the Board of Education. Entirely expected given that Paul chaired the First Task Force that led to the Second Task Force. But the appointment does say something about the “blast from the past” quality of education debates.

Paul was on the board from 1991 to 1996. A bipartisan agreement (Weld-Birmingham-Finneran) led to the replacement of Paul and others and the appointment of the top vote-getting Democrat (and previously electoral opponent to Weld) John Silber to the helm of the BOE. Positive qualities Paul brings to the BOE are that he listens, and that he has some broader academic training (M.A.), which could be somewhat relevant in connecting up the K-12 and higher education agendas.

Concerns center around the very reason why Governor Weld and the legislature made significant changes to the Board in 1996: It was moving way too slowly. Telescope to 2007, with ed reform stalled out, and the Second Task Force only reporting out in March 2008, and you have to ask: Can Paul give education a sense of urgency? He has signaled already a focus on transforming the DOE from a compliance to a technical assistance agency (Yay!), but realistically he needs to signal his view of accountability, the role of MCAS, and innovation through charters, pilots, voc tech and other choice vehicles.

See key Pioneer pieces on accountability (#1 and #2) and scaling up the level of innovation–core aspects of the education reform movement in the nineties.

Summary question for Paul: Are we moving forward or back to pre-1993?