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Lawmakers fete 25 yrs of ed. reform

Teachers unions steer clear of event, call for more funding

Yawu Miller | 4/11/2018, 9:23 a.m.
State officials and education leaders gathered at the State House last Thursday to mark the 25 years since Massachusetts passed ...
Former Education Secretary Paul Reville leads a panel discussion. Banner photo

“We need to raise taxes,” he said. “We need to raise revenue. That’s evidently against the law in Massachusetts.”

The paucity of teachers and teacher’s union officials in the room was at times readily apparent. At one point Peyser lauded teachers and educators.

“Massachusetts schools are the best in the country because our educators are the best in the country,” he said. “It’s that simple.”

Yet, later in the program, when teachers were asked to stand, fewer than 10 in the audience of more than 200 stood.

Madeloni said her union is critical of the standardized testing regime mandated by the Education Reform Act.

“We know how destructive it is for our education system, particularly for children experiencing poverty and racial discrimination,” she said.

Riley, who was sworn into his new role as the state’s commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education during the event, spoke about the importance working collaboratively to move education reform forward in Massachusetts.

“I truly believe that this will only be done by bringing all voices back to the table,” he said, urging charter and district school leaders to work together. “We are living in fragmented polarized times, but we must put down our partisan swords if we are to provide for our kids the best possible education.”

There appeared to be broad support at the event for charter schools, which were ushered in with the Education Reform Act of 1993, with many of the speakers representing parts of the charter movement. Peyser was a board member of Families for Excellent Schools, the now-defunct New York-based group that led the failed 2016 ballot question backing charter school expansion. He and Gov. Baker, who also spoke, were vocal supporters of the ballot measure. Keri Rodrigues, a former organizer for Families for Excellent Schools, was an invited panelist, but was not present at the event.