Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Crisis Foreseen

Just when we thought we had heard it all about the behind-the-scenes political machinations that led to the Gloucester charter school controversy, along comes another bombshell in today’s Boston Globe.

Citing new information released by the state’s inspector general, the Globe is reporting that the Gloucester charter school application was on the verge of being rejected “until the Patrick administration intervened.” That’s when the school was given the green light instead.

According to the Globe, on February 5, 2009 a “mid-level official” in the state’s charter school office drafted a letter to the Gloucester charter school group and a memorandum to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education denying the Gloucester charter request and listing the problems with the application. However, neither of these documents was ever distributed, because later that same day, Education Secretary Paul Reville sent his now-infamous e-mail to Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester urging him to approve the application so the Patrick Administration would not be seen as “hostile” to charter schools (see our January 7 post, “Charter School Politics”).

The continuing fallout from this whole debacle is hardly surprising. After all, Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei warned back in February of 2008 that the loss of an independent Board of Education would lead to many questionable decisions being made based not on sound education policy, but rather on political considerations. Be sure to check out Senator Tisei’s latest op-ed on the charter school controversy, along with his prescient Senate floor speech from 2008.