In his letter to the editor (“Ed board shuffle: a lesson in irony,” July 2, 2007), Dan French trots out a number of myths long perpetuated by supporters of the status quo in education.
- He contends that Governor Weld packed the Board of Education, overlooking the fact that changes on the board had strong support from a Democratic Legislature alarmed at what was then the slow pace of education reform. Weld appointed John Silber as the chairman of the Board, who, notwithstanding the views some may have of him, was the largest vote-getter among recent Democratic gubernatorial candidates until Governor Patrick’s election last year.
- He contends that five of the nine members had ties to Pioneer or other free-market think tanks. I count two: Jim Peyser and Abigail Thernstrom. Dan, please do enlighten us about who these other phantom Pioneers were that so terrified you.
- Much as we would like to take credit for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, it was the result of a broad, bipartisan consensus that included Tom Birmingham, Tom Finneran, Mark Roosevelt and Bill Weld. Without such broad legislative support, MCAS would not have survived.
Dan knows all that, but his mind is so beset with conspiracy theories and payback for phantom enemies, he is willing to walk away from key reform elements that have helped make Massachusetts the best education system in the country. He and the other “status quotists” are backing off standards, backing off accountability, and undermining the independence of the Board of Education.
Dan, get serious as this is serious business.