Romney’s half-hearted education efforts

“Romney education record was mixed” reads the headline on today’s front-page Boston Globe story. It’s a look at Mitt Romney’s track record on education issues while Massachusetts governor, and the headline is probably more generous than the story, which generally pans Romney’s record from his four years in office.

Some Romney-backed policies clearly were an overhyped bust. The Adams Scholarship covers tuition at state colleges for high-performing Massachusetts students, but fees make-up 80 percent of student charges under our wacky state system. And Romney strongly supported a successful 2002 ballot question mandating English immersion for all non-native speakers, the implementation of which has been widely seen as an abysmal failure.

But in many ways the Romney report card is mixed because he advocated serious reform policies but didn’t seem serious about actually trying to get them adopted. With enough support in the Legislature, he managed to stave off an attempt to impose a moratorium on charter school growth.  But much more sweeping proposals to hold teachers more accountable went nowhere. “His impact was inconsequential,” Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, sniffs to the Globe’s Tracy Jan. “People viewed his proposals as political talking points, and no one took Romney seriously.”

As the story recounts, Romney collided head-first with a Democratic Legislature and hostile teachers unions, which together formed an unshakable obstacle to his plans. Those plan were easily dismissed as the anti-labor bluster of a corporate Republican. A decade later, however, some of the same positions have become the talking points of liberal Democrats like Deval Patrick. Just days ago, Patrick signed legislation that will elevate the role of teacher evaluations over seniority in staffing decisions.

Romney’s tenure as governor was often marked by an aloof style and seeming indifference toward others in government with whom he would need to work in order to get anything done.  But it’s unfair to compare his inability to make progress on teacher reforms with the strides that are now being taken. The time is now ripe for the sort of changes Massachusetts is adopting — and having a Democrat in the governor’s office saying so has been part of the reason. At the time Romney was in office, there was no broad-based support for such reforms.

Perhaps he was half-hearted in pushing such changes because, as the broader critique of his tenure has it, he always viewed the governor’s post as a stepping stone to be exploited on the way to a White House run.  “He didn’t want to do the groundwork. He was here to look for his next job,” state Rep. Patricia Haddad tells the Globe.

But some of the school reform positions Romney supported were destined not to get much traction seven or eight years ago no matter what he did. In that way, Romney can say that at least some of the shortcomings of his education record are the mark of someone who was ahead of the curve.

                                                                                                                                                    –MICHAEL JONAS


Berkshires lawmakers put forward a revolving loan fund proposal to repair hazardous dams, which they hope to get passed before the end of the session, the Berkshire Eagle reports.


Caesars CEO Gary Loveman, the pompous pitchman for a Suffolks Downs casino, tells the Globe he foresees no competition for his company’s proposed partnership with local business moguls to capture the license designated for the Greater Boston area.


A Scituate grandfather has launched a protest against the town’s ban on beach bonfires for the Fourth of July, painting patriotic slogans on the wooden pallets he had planned on burning.

Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan, frustrated with the number of complaints he’s been getting about illegal signs posted around the city, hopped in his car and began removing some of them himself.

Nine of the top 10 earners working for Bridgewater last year were police officers, a direct result of staffing cuts that reduced the force by 25 percent in the last decade, says the town’s police chief.

Neighbors of a toxic Attleboro chrome-plating plant lobby for Superfund status.

ELECTION 2012’s political editor Glen Johnson and Jon Keller take a look at the Supreme Court’s health care decision and its effect on Mitt Romney’s campaign as well as how it will play in the Senate race. New York magazine finds something in the ruling for all sides to like. Republicans look to go on the offensive against the country’s newest biggest tax.

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Lake Winnipesaukee gets to know the Secret Service.


Forget Facebook. Two Massachusetts Internet companies are doing well following recent IPOs.

Manufacturers in western Massachusetts are taking advantage of tax breaks to finance expansions.

Can you resell music you buy in digital form?  The question is now in federal court, and a Massachusetts company, ReDigi, is at the center of it.

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Vicki Kennedy, appearing yesterday on ABC’s This Week, urges the country to accept the new health care law, which her late husband called the cause of his life, and work together toward its successful implementation.


The MBTA fare increase took effect yesterday, NECN reports. Some riders mobilize for a fare strike. The increase is hitting those who depend on The Ride particularly hard, the Globe reports.  If you have MBTA tokens tucked away in a jar somewhere, you have until July 20 to redeem them. Meanwhile, The MetroWest Daily News says no more bailouts, let the adult conversation begin.

The T backs off plans to charge a $3 surcharge for commuter rail tickets bought on board the trains, the Gloucester Times reports.

New Wonderland parking garage opens in Revere in a bid to spur development, the Item reports. The garage was featured in a CommonWealth report on the state’s use of federal stimulus funds.

Uber, the app that lets you summon vehicles, is expanding its focus to hybrid taxis and even ice cream trucks in Boston, the New York Times reports.


The state Department of Environmental Protection will undertake a noise study of the new Freetown wind turbines to determine if the blades are creating problems for neighbors.


The police chief in Washington, DC, is changing the way crime is fought, Governing reports.

A teenage car passenger is shot in the arm on I-495, a victim of what police are calling a road rage shooting, the Eagle-Tribune reports.


A 22-year-old Associated Press intern is found dead in Mexico City, the Washington Post reports.