I don’t have a dog in this Congressional fight, don’t know most of these candidates, live hours away. But I’ve learned this: Will Brownsberger supports the Keystone XL pipeline and Citizens United, and he is one of two Democratic State Senators sponsoring a bill that targets collective bargaining rights for those teaching our Commonwealth’s neediest students. This bill, H529, basically seeks to make it easier to throw out inconvenient promises made by towns and cities.
I’ll try for a brief summary. About 50 Massachusetts schools have been labeled “Level 4″ based on test scores run through a complex formula, a branding which confers authority on administrators to shred the contract and force more work for no more pay, engage in mass firings, or privatize…power in the hands of the same culpable administration that can skate through with their comfortable six-figure salaries intact. Three years into this latest approach, there is no strong evidence if this approach works. (In September, the Commissioner of Education will make a rather arbitrary decision about what happens to these schools, with some moving to a higher level, and others possibly moving down.) And in a surprise to absolutely nobody, these schools are all in diverse urban communities. Brownsberger’s bill would expand these methods of punishment to select “Level 3″ schools — those whose test-scores emerge from the formula in the bottom fifth in the Commonwealth. That’s right, doesn’t matter how the students are actually doing, as the priority is to ensure there are hundreds of schools to label and punish. Which of those hundreds of schools, ticketed as Level 3 based, would be targeted, is unclear. These are the 20% lowest schools according to that same arcane formula.
So we have a bill that seeks to shred legal contracts to make it easier for people who drove an organization into a ditch to blame other people. The targets are those working in the most challenging environments, and the lesson is clear: don’t help those who need it the most, lest you be next on the hit list. Most Democrats seem unready to attack working men and women absent evidence that it actually does any non-politician any good. Brownsberger seems ready to go full steam ahead on this idea. I don’t know much about the Senator, but the more I know the less I like.