December brought a big win for kids in Massachusetts with Governor-Elect Charlie Baker’s appointment of James Peyser to the top education post. It’s no secret that Massachusetts is generally considered to have the best public schools in the nation and for that reason, it is often looked to as a model of how best to educate kids. We talk about the need for kids to have a champion and Peyser’s background certainly bodes well on that front.
Characterized in the Boston Globe as a listener and not an ideologue, Peyser speaks of his commitment to helping close the persistent achievement gap between poor and higher-income students.
It will take a champion to do that.
He also speaks of the need to strengthen vocational and technical education as well as make college more affordable.
It will take a champion to do that, too.
Expanding School Choice is a Piece of the Puzzle
“We need to do whatever we can do to create great schools and one of the ways, though not the only way, is through charter schools,” Peyser said. In a Boston Globe interview, he described children as the “customers…and not part of the system, and they need to be given options.”
Former Education Secretary, Paul S. Reville, describes Peyser as a “thoughtful reformer” and says, “he has convictions but he’s a listener and a doer.”
Part of Baker’s charge for Peyser is to help fulfill the governor’s promise to add 50 new charter schools to the 80 that already exist in the Commonwealth.
Massachusetts Teachers Association President Barbara Madeloni said the following in response to Peyser’s appointment: “Vigorous disagreement should be welcome in the debate over public education.”
Ms. Madeloni couldn’t be more right, though there is one caveat. The vigorous debate she cites must always, without exception, put the needs of students first. It can never be about what is best for adults; on the contrary, student learning needs to be the lens, the only lens, through which we make decisions about public education, not only in Massachusetts, but in the other 49 states as well.
The appointment of James Peyser inspires confidence that, at least in Massachusetts, 2015 means good things for kids.