Governor Creates Panel To Monitor Chelsea Accord

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts last week signed legislation enabling Boston University to take over the management of the Chelsea Public Schools for 10 years.

But in a move that pleased some critics of the landmark plan, the Governor also announced the creation of an advisory committee to monitor the agreement and ensure that the university complies with the "spirit as well as the letter" of state public-interest laws.

Nevertheless, a group of 51 Hispanic residents of Chelsea, contending that the agreement came about through a process "hostile to and ignoring the wishes of the Hispanic community," last week filed suit to block the plan. Hispanic students constitute 52 percent of the district's enrollment.

"That there are problems in the Chelsea schools--and there are some--lies with the duly elected officials heretofore responsible for running those schools," the lawsuit states. "It does not follow, however, that the remedy for the ineptitude of those political officials lies in depriving their victims, the people of Chelsea, of their rights."

Robert B. Schwartz, Governor Dukakis's education adviser, said the advisory committee would ensure that the university met its educational goals as well as its obligations to Chelsea residents.

"We all hope this demonstration project succeeds, and we want to be positive about it," Mr. Schwartz said. "But the state has a continuing obligation to make sure state laws are fully complied with."

Mr. Schwartz added that such an advisory body is unprecedented, but noted that "there is no precedent for a demonstration project of this magnitude."

The legislation authorizing the management agreement was passed by the legislature this month, after the Senate defeated amendments that would have limited the university's exemptions from open-meeting and open-records laws. As a private institution, the university had sought the exemptions to ensure that it would not have to open all its records and meetings to the public.

Paul Devlin, president of the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers, which had opposed the exemptions, praised Governor Dukakis's action.

"While we still vigorously object to the legislation and the essential nature of this takeover," he said, "the formation of this panel offers encouragement that an appropriate body will work to ensure that public-interest laws are not violated."

Thomas D. Cashman, the university's vice president for public affairs, said the Governor's proposal "opens a two-way street."

"The state can learn from what we are doing, and we can learn from the members he appoints," he said.

The enactment of the legislation, according to Mr. Cashman, enables the university to focus its efforts on raising funds to implement its reform proposals. To date, he said, officials have raised about $900,000, less than half of the $2 million the original proposal estimated would be needed.

Meanwhile, the New England Legal Foundation, a public-interest law firm, has intervened on behalf of Chelsea parents who support the management plan in a lawsuit filed earlier by the teachers' union and other critics.

The suit charges that the agreement violates the state constitution by transferring authority over the public schools to a private institution. In papers filed with the court, the parents claim the unusual arrangement is necessary to rescue the troubled school system.

Vol. 08, Issue 39

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >