Senate President Birmingham shows off his erudition online

Almost two months before the DOE’s online conference, Senate President Thomas Birmingham launched the State Senate E-vents by personally engaging in a 32-minute chat with students at Everett High School. It was the first in what’s billed as a series of online discussions about public policy between senators and schoolchildren. The September 26 exchange, an excerpt of which follows, reveals the senate president’s command of linguistic trivia (who knew?) and the students’ talent for calling it as they see it.

(A complete transcript can be found at

09:10:27 What are you studying now?
09:11:22 Indo-Europeans and the Minoans.
09:11:45 What do you mean by Indo-Europeans? Where did they live?
09:13:24 They migrated through different areas of Europe. Also, they helped the spread of language.
09:14:14 Can you think of a language that is not an Indo-European derivative, but which is spoken in Europe? I can think of three.
09:14:44 What are they?
09:15:14 Basque, Finnish, and Hungarian. Do you think questions like this should be on the MCAS test?
09:17:15 No, because there shouldn’t be such complex questions.
09:18:25 Generally, what do you think about the MCAS test? You took it last year and will take it for real next year.
09:20:10 They were stressful and we can’t study for them. Some of the questions were from things that we learned in past grades.
09:21:04 Getting back to your history studies, do you know the name of the written language Egyptians used?
09:21:37 Hieroglyphs
09:22:17 Very good, I think you all will do well on the MCAS. Do you have a question for me?
09:23:09 When will the new [public skating] rink [in Everett] be open?
09:25:19 Although it has been long-awaited, it will be open for the Fall of 2000 skating season. Anthony Guerriero, my staff person in your classroom, should know more details.