Thursday, June 07, 2007

Plan for Education Reform Now

The West Roxbury & Roslindale Transcript pens this editorial on Governor Deval Patrick's education proposals so I don't have to. Here's a bit of it:

There are some strong voices in Massachusetts — Barbara Anderson, legislative leaders of both parties and the talk show crowd — whose political vision begins and ends with keeping taxes down. They begrudge even the status quo if it requires new revenue. They have no ideas and they want to hear no ideas that don't involve tax cuts.

Deval Patrick didn't run for governor to do nothing but engage in a constant struggle to maintain current programs. He campaigned on a pledge to launch a new wave of education reform, and Friday he began to define that vision. He called for a longer school day for every student, a universal preschool program, new curriculum requirements in math and English and new teacher training programs. He vowed to make community colleges an engine for economic development as well as educational attainment.
There seems to be this idea that if we can't pay for a project in full right now, we shouldn't even discuss it. I don't get that. There's no reason we can't phase in some of these educational programs, see how much they really cost and look for efficiencies as we implement them. Sure, they won't be free, but saying that we can't afford them because we're currently in mediocre economic times implies that the economy will never improve. Certainly opponents don't believe that. We should be planning for how we want to improve education now, because it's too important to wait around until we have a big pile of money we don't know what to do with. Observers of the Statehouse know that just doesn't happen, and if it did, the legislature would just spend it on so many gazeboes and gaslights. Let's have an aggressive goal for education reform so that we have some sort of direction when funds free up.