To the editor:
Gov. Deval Patrick believes the process that gave the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School its charter was "sound," yet he has twice asked for a "re-do" ("Patrick: Probation 'right thing to do' for charter," Times, Page 1, Wednesday, Oct. 19).
Some readers might also think it's odd that Paul Reville, Patrick's own secretary of education, is one of the members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education whom Gov. Patrick claims won't listen to him.
Let me explain.
The charter was granted for the GCA Charter School because, as Secretary Reville told his Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester, the Patrick administration needed to grant at least one new charter in 2009 in order to maintain the viability of their political agenda.
To Secretary Reville, the fact that the three finalists for new charters that year had been rejected by the Charter School Office's rigorous and independent evaluation process was an inconvenience.
This has been well documented, from news stories first reported in this newspaper to a scathing report from the state's Inspector General.
Even Mayor Carolyn Kirk, whose position on the GCA Charter School is finely nuanced, knows this. She told the Gloucester Daily Times in the fall of 2009:
"This memo (from Reville to Chester) is evidence that the Gloucester charter school was granted based on political calculation rather than on educational merits. It also explains why the commissioner overturned the state's charter review team's recommendation to deny the charter based on the weakness of the application. The Gloucester charter school should be stopped in its tracks now. I don't want my faith to beshattered in the Patrick administration."
Charter schools have been one of the hottest topics in education for the past few years. Gov. Patrick has made education a signature issue of his administration. He even has Secretary Reville's former chief of staff and director of his "Readiness Project" education initiative serving as his campaign manager.
The idea that Patrick's secretary of education went off on his own and decided that his administration's perceived political needs trumped the lack of merit in the those three applications for new school charters is hard to swallow.
Did Secretary Reville consult his boss before he made that call? Neither answer is a good one.
If anyone has been using children as political pawns in this mess, it is Patrick, Reville, and Chester.
Deval Patrick will not get my vote this year.
2006 Patrick Campaign