On Tuesday voters in Massachusetts will have an opportunity to decide who will fill the senate seat that has been vacant since Senator Edward Kennedy passed away in August of last year. On the ballot are Martha Coakley, Democrat; Scott Brown, Republican; and Joseph Kennedy, Libertarian. Each candidate has a unique position about education, education reform and education policies on a national level. The individual who wins on Tuesday will have the responsibility of creating laws that will affect the quality of education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
As an individual who cares about education in the Commonwealth, it is essential to consider where the candidates stand on issues concerning education to ensure that you make an informed decision. The candidates are concerned primarily with charter schools, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System). Where do you stand on the issues? How do your opinions match up with the candidates?
Martha Coakley, Democrat, is currently the Massachusetts Attorney General and has been involved with public service for the last 20 years. As senator, Coakley would revise many of the policies related to education.
Charter Schools: Martha Coakley has seen some of the benefits charter schools have brought to school districts across the Commonwealth. However, she is concerned that charter schools have had a detrimental effect on the education budgets of the districts in which they are located. Coakley recognizes that charter schools can be useful opportunities for student engagement and teacher innovation, but wants to be sure that the funding sources for charter schools is transparent and supported by the federal government to avoid causing difficulties for the school districts in which they are located.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB): Coakley recognizes the benefits of working toward goals. However, she also acknowledges that not providing the tools necessary to reach those goals is counterproductive. As senator, Coakley would work to reform NCLB so that it lives up to the promises of its intentions. Coakley realizes that NCLB is a program that has been handed down by the federal government and places states in a difficult position of meeting the goals of NCLB with inadequate funding. Coakley supports initiatives that would provide necessary funding to local districts thus providing them with a tool to meeting the goals of NCLB. As well, Coakley supports the transition away from using a single-minded approach to measuring a school’s success toward measuring the growth and progress a district is making in improving its academics. In this way schools would not be unfairly labeled as underperforming or “failing” and would be praised for making strides toward achieving proficiency.
Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS): Coakley would like to see school districts move away from relying heavily on standardized testing as a means for assessing the quality of a school district. A standardized test, MCAS is a uniform approach to measuring how well students are performing across the district. Coakley is looking into systems in which a student’s growth is tracked and measured over time instead of in isolated testing situations.
Martha Coakley is a believer in public education. She knows that it is essential that every person have access to a high-quality education in order to reach his or her potential. Martha Coakley believes that with some reforms to the current system, public education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can be affected for the better.
Check in tomorrow for a profile of Scott Brown, Republican candidate for senator in Massachusetts.