I often take a moment to reflect upon the trajectories taken by local writers and political pundits. One political analyst who continues to elevate his game is Jon Keller of WBZ-TV. Keller began the process when he published “The Bluest State” last year. He followed up on that success with a thoughtful essay in The Wall Street Journal on Saturday. In it, he revisited the similarities between Governor Patrick and Barack Obama.
“Education may be the one area where Mr. Patrick could have done the most to demonstrate that he is indeed a new man of the left. Fifteen years ago, the state enacted strict testing requirements for both teachers and students and passed reforms that encourage the creation of charter schools. The result: Massachusetts consistently places among the top performers on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Sticking by these bipartisan reforms – or even expanding them to help minority children in poor areas – would seem to be an easy call.
But to the delight of education unions, Mr. Patrick instead appears to be laying the groundwork to dismantle these reforms. He appointed antitesting zealot Ruth Kaplan to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, where she repaid his confidence recently by disparaging the college preparation emphasis of some charter schools. She said these schools set ‘some kids up for failure . . . Their families don’t always know what’s best for their children.’
S. Paul Reville, chairman of the education board, has also drawn attention for his willingness to water down certification testing requirements for aspiring teachers. Under the guise of trying to overcome a teacher shortage, the administration wants to allow applicants who have failed the test three times to teach anyway. When pressed on the issue, Mr. Reville said publicly that the certification test ‘isn’t necessarily the best venue for everybody to demonstrate their competency.’ “