The DeVos phenomenon in Massachusetts

Betsy DeVos has absolutely no experience in public education, and she is now the Secretary of Education. This is not just a federal problem. In Massachusetts, state law (MGL Ch. 15 Sec. 1E) prohibits persons employed by or receiving regular compensation from any school system, as well as school committee members, from serving on the state board of elementary and secondary education. The MA secretary of education, James Peyser, previously served as Managing Director of the NewSchools Venture Fund, “a non-profit grant-making firm that seeks to transform public education in high-need urban communities by supporting innovative education entrepreneurs.” In other words, while DeVos and her friends were donating tons of money to privatize public schools, Peyser was one of the guys handing out the money.

It’s not enough to complain about the nonsense in Washington. We also need to act to get the Massachusetts legislature to fix the mess we have at home.



Discuss

6 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Peyser

    The link says he advised two governors. Who was the other one?

  2. Maybe only tangential to the point of this diary...

    …but it seems to me that people who work in school system or serve on school committees are exactly the people you would WANT serving on the state board of elementary and secondary education. Prohibiting that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense IMO.

    • Same issue

      People who are qualified are not at the table, people with no public school experience are the decision-makers.

      The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) governs educator licensure. For every other trade or profession, the board regulating the profession has a majority of members in that vocation, some boards require members to hold the professional license. For educators are prohibited from serving the board that regulates their licensure.

      • Uncertain...

        People who are qualified are not at the table, people with no public school experience are the decision-makers.

        … if that strictly obtains, or if that’s a result of a deliberately obtuse reading of the law. Does the law stipulate simultaneity? Or absolute ban? So, for example, somebody on a local school committee nominated to the state board would have to step down from the school committee to serve of the board (or refuse the nomination, to remain on the school committee).

        Do the knucklehead politicians (I’m looking at you Charlie Baker) simply not nominate persons on school committees because that’s how they read this law? Or do they just go for their Pioneer Institute buddies (again, got my eyes on you Baker) because of their general antipathy to all things public school?

        There’s nothing in the law, by my reading, that prevents an expert who’s once served on the school committee from serving on the board… they just, it seems to me, can’t do it simultaneously… kinda like you can’t be a Senator and POTUS at the same time. So, I don’t disagree that “People who are qualified are not at the table, people with no public school experience are the decision-makers.” but don’t, necessarily think this law requires that… I think it’s the politicians simply not treating local school committees as the farm team, as is done in so many other areas of politics…

        The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) governs educator licensure. For every other trade or profession, the board regulating the profession has a majority of members in that vocation, some boards require members to hold the professional license.

        With the possible exceptions of police and firefighters, no other trades are political footballs. The evident need for police and firefighters protects them from undue interference… but the continued wrangling over the purposes of, processes of and, indeed, definition of, public education sorta invites the very interference.

        Also, in other trades, like electricians for example, licensure relates as much to personal and public safety as to craftsmanship: it’s very easy for an electrician to accidentally kill himself or create the conditions for a fire that’ll kill others. This is true for cops, firefighters and builders, also, so the licensure boards are, in part, inclusive of licensed professionals because they have experience in not killing themselves or others. Without slighting, in the least, the job teachers do, they aren’t in danger of — under color of license — either accidental homicide or accidental suicide.

        This is not to agree with the notion that experienced teachers, administrators and local committee members should be excluded. It’s just exploring where the necessities are perceived to be in the circumstances. If I were Governor the very first place I would look to for a spot on the State Board of Education would be to local school committees. But I believe in public education. Charlie Baker and James Peyser, simply do not.

        For educators are prohibited from serving the board that regulates their licensure.

        Again, I don’t see this required by the law. If you do see it, please clarify for me. I think it’s the politicos and particularly the right leaning ones, who have a general antipathy to the very notion of public schools that forbids them from appointing people with actual experience. It does look, from where I sit, that the makeup of the board is as you describe, but I don’t think it stems directly from the law…

  3. It sounds on the surface as though the intent of the ban on school committee members

    from serving on the state board was to prevent conflicts of interest. Or was it really to enhance the influence of people trying to privatize education in the state?

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Wed 29 Mar 3:23 AM