Peabody School Committee: Ed Commissioner's Common Core Role 'Breach of Trust'

The Peabody School Committee has called for the investigation of a Massachusetts education commissioner who simultaneously serves as national chair of PARCC, one of the Common Core testing consortia. The committee calls the dual role a conflict of interest.

Mitchell Chester is both the Commissioner of the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education in Massachusetts and the national chair of the governing board of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of the two testing consortia, the role of which is to develop assessments aligned with the highly controversial Common Core centralized academic standards.

On April 8th, the Peabody School Committee met and voted unanimously to send a letter to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D), Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the State Ethics Commission, requesting that they render an opinion on the matter.

Dave McGeney, a member of the school committee, sent Breitbart News a copy of the letter, which reads:

We believe the decision of whether to abandon MCAS, a test which is a fundamental element of the 1993 Ed Reform Act that has led to the unprecedented improvement in student achievement in Massachusetts, in favor of PARCC, a test which may hold promise but is, as yet, unproven and theoretical, is one of critical importance.

We believe also that this monumental decision demands objectivity, fairness and the impartial scrutiny of empirical data to determine the outcome.

We believe that Mitchell Chester, by virtue of his role as National Chair of the PARCC Governing Board and other actions represents a serious breach of trust, which is at odds with his primary duties and responsibilities, and at the very least gives the impression of bias towards PARCC and compromises the decision making process.

Therefore, the Peabody School Committee, by a unanimous vote, requests that you render an opinion on this matter.

McGeney’s powerful statement at the Peabody School Committee meeting Tuesday evening is a must-see:

In an editorial in the Worcester Telegram Friday, McGeney quoted the Seinfeld character George Castanza, who said, “Just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it,” to illustrate “the numerous and utterly false assertions made by Mitchell Chester” in a recent article in which Chester praised the PARCC test.

McGeney wrote:

It's important to understand, for starters, that in addition to his role as the Massachusetts commissioner of elementary and secondary education, Mr. Chester is also serving his third term as national chair of the PARCC Governing Board. This hardly makes him an objective evaluator of PARCC during this sham of a so-called "two-year test drive."

Here are just two untruths stated by Mr. Chester:

 — "PARCC provides a solid bridge from K-12 to higher education."

 — "It offers a much clearer understanding of whether a student is ready for college."

There is absolutely zero evidence to support these statements. By Mr. Chester's own admission, PARRC is not even a finished product, so how could any thoughtful person assert that this "untested test" will definitively do what is claimed?

Since Massachusetts has enjoyed high acclaim for its exceptional academic standards, curriculum, and test, McGeney asserted that the state has “the least to gain and the most to lose” by replacing the successful Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) with the untested Common Core standards.

“It’s unimaginable that any rational person could even consider such a shift without the empirical evidence showing that it would guarantee a better result,” wrote McGeney. “The near fanaticism of Common Core proponents in the absence of such proof raises profound questions.”

“It is my firm belief that this runaway train called Common Core has far less to do with education than it does with the colossal build-up of the ‘Educational Industrial Complex’ from which obscene profits and unbridled-power shall be amassed,” he concluded.


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