The latest from The Trail Report E-mail the Globe politics staff
at email@example.com The Political Trail is a bi-weekly column about Mass. politics that runs in the Globe's City Weekly section.
See who's donating to the candidates for governor Maps
The Nov. 7 elections may dramatically change the face of Congress.
Key House and Senate races
GLOBE EDITORIALS: Mass. Matters
Search local video and audio about a candidate or campaign topic.
• Gubernatorial debate at Jordan Hall: Nov. 1
• General election: Nov. 7
Discuss the candidates and issues in this year's Massachusetts election.Following Mitt Romney as he eyes a possible run for president
Other issues: Environment | Gambling | Gay marriage
Healthcare | Mass. exodus | Public safety | Taxes, the economy
The issue: Education
(By Maria Sacchetti, Globe Staff, 9/5/06)
Thirteen years into a crusade to overhaul schools, the Bay State's students regularly are among the top in the nation on standardized tests. But the new governor will inherit public school systems that appear to have hit a plateau.
In the speech announcing her candidacy, Healey called for "a new focus on education, creating enhanced opportunities for early childhood learning, intensive early intervention for kids with learning difficulties, more time in the classroom for everyone, and better access to affordable public higher education."
On the campaign trail she has repeatedly called for increasing the age at which students are allowed to drop out of school from 16 to 18. "Over 80 percent of people in our jails dropped out of high school; you have to wonder -- where would they be instead if someone had cared enough to keep them in school?"
Healey also has called for an increased emphasis on science, engineering, and math in upper grades. If elected, she says she would concentrate on testing students twice a year to see whether they are improving. As lieutenant governor she has supported the education proposals being pushed in the legislature by Gov. Mitt Romney, including basing teacher pay on performance, and bonuses for math and science teachers.
Healey's campaign says she is a strong backer of charter schools and supports lifting the cap limiting the amount towns can spend on them. "She thinks they are a great asset to Massachusetts," campaign manager Tim O'Brien told the Globe.
Healey sends her two children to private school. She told NECN she made the decision "because I want my kids to be in an environment where they can talk about values and talk about perhaps values in a way that you can't always do in a public school setting, and I want uniforms and a very structured environment for my kids."
One of the keystones of Mihos's campaign is a proposal to end all academic and activity fees in public schools. It's one of the three proposals in "Proposition 1," legislation he vows to include in his first budget and to take directly to voters if he is rejected on Beacon Hill. "There's no excuse for such fees and localities shouldn't be in a position where they feel as if they have to penalize their own children for being active and involved."
Mihos says he supports the concept of charter schools, but does not favor raising the cap that limits the amount of money districts can spend on them. "I am just not ready to lift the cap," he told the Globe.
Mihos's children attended private schools, and he, too, says that experience helped shape his policy on education, especially his proposal to devote more state funding to local communities for schools and to eliminate activity fees.
Patrick is a proponent of early childhood education. He has proposed full-day kindergarten for all 5-year-olds, and called for expanded pre-school opportunities for 3- and 4-year-olds. He has also proposed lengthening the school day in higher grades (with additional pay for teachers) and wants to "explore the feasibility and academic impact" of extending the school year.
He has pledged to reduce class sizes in early grades by addressing issues of space, funding, and qualified staff.
All the gubernatorial candidates support charter schools, but Patrick's support is the most nuanced. He opposes raising the cap that limits spending on charter schools to no more than 9 percent of a district's total spending. His support of unionized Horace Mann schools is stronger than his support of non-union commonwealth charters. His education issue paper says: "I will support charter schools (especially Horace Mann charters) by developing funding mechanisms that do not disadvantage district schools and measuring charter schools in part by whether they are producing innovative ideas that can be imported into district schools."
He supports requiring students to pass the MCAS exam before they can graduate, and would add a test in science, but says the state should develop "additional assessment tools" so MCAS is not the only measure of a student's academic progress.
He has also proposed issuing bonds to pay for expansion of public higher education in the state. As one example, he has proposed a bond measure, similar to one passed in California, to support stem-cell research, proceeds from which would be invested in developing research facilities and a skilled faculty at the state's public colleges and universities.
Patrick's children are either attending or have graduated from private schools.
Grace Ross (Green-Rainbow Party)
Ross says we have a constitutional commitment to public education in this state. In a statement posted on her website, Ross says, "After years of tax loopholes to big corporations, while the state starves our towns of local aid and transportation reimbursement, Massachusetts public schools have had to cut extra-curriculars, shift to larger classroom sizes, and impose fees many parents cannot afford, etc. I will work to fully fund public education for all students - including bi-lingual students."
If elected, Ross would phase charter schools back into regular public schools. She says, "Subgroups of children in our Commonwealth, ones who happen to have certain types of highly motivated and involved parents effectively enjoy more educational options than the rest of the children. Meanwhile, the existing mechanism of public funding for charter schools means that scarce dollars are being further suctioned away from the budgets of public schools where regular kids are educated..."
Ross is no fan of the MCAS. She says the test "compounded the problems our children face in school, rather than helping to solve them." She calls MCAS a "one-size-fits-all test" that distracts children from meaningful teaching. Ross blames MCAS for the rising high school dropout rate. Globe columnist Eileen McNamara wrote earlier this year that "Ross makes sense to parents who know that MCAS scores are an ancillary issue in education when 1 in 4 high school students is dropping out."
Ross supports providing more opportunities for adult education. She wants the state to fully fund basic adult education in order "to improve our skill base and citizens' lives and opportunities." In regards to higher education, she says, "With tuition and fees at our state institutions pushing public higher education out of the reach of much of the public who want and need it most, in-state tuition becomes a political football. We must lower the tuition and fees for all of our residents."
* Compiled by Boston.com Staff from published reports in the Boston Globe, the candidates' campaigns, and other sources.