Published Online: July 12, 2005
Published in Print: July 13, 2005, as Not Seeing Eye to Eye

State Journal

Not Seeing Eye to Eye

Mass. Governor, PTA Spar Over Choice of Parent for State School Board

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A stalemate between Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the state PTA over naming a parent to sit on the state board of education shows no sign of ending any time soon.

Under a law passed last year, one of the nine members of the board must be a parent. The 18,000-member Massachusetts PTA had for years pushed for having a parent on the board.

The unpaid board members set broad education policy for the state.

But when the parent-teacher group sent the names of three candidates to the Republican governor in May, his administration asked for additional names.

The governor’s administration argued that the original candidates would not reflect the views of many parents because of their critical positions on the effects of accountability exams and charter schools.

The PTA has refused to offer new names, and says the governor’s stance is making it harder to ensure that a parent’s perspective will be represented on the board. The Romney administration, the PTA contends, is also generalizing the views held by its board candidates.

The governor’s office referred calls on the issue to the Massachusetts Department of Education.

A spokeswoman for the agency said late last month that the process was still under way, but would not comment on specifics of the controversy.

A parent was supposed to be named to the board by July 1.

Pam Richardson, a member of the Framingham school committee and a candidate offered by the PTA for the state board, described her interview with the governor’s staff last month as “gracious and pleasant.”

She said she does have reservations about the effects of high stakes testing, and she supports a moratorium on new charter schools, which are largely independent public schools that the governor has strongly championed.

“Charter school funding is punitive to district schools,” she said. “I agree with the governor on many things, but I may not see eye to eye with him on that.”

Vol. 24, Issue 42, Page 23

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