Why is this proposal a necessary step for the Commonwealth?

Massachusetts is a national leader in education and we should all be proud of that standing, but we've got to know that it is not enough.

Universal access to quality education has a tremendous impact not only on individuals, but on the society as a whole. Individuals with Bachelor's Degrees strength the states economy by over $800,000 over the course of an average working age lifetime. In comparison, high school dropouts cost us in the neighborhood of $200,000. Half of all kids in some of our public high schools drop out before they graduate - a large percentage of those young people are poor, minority or both. Those drop outs become the 75% of prison population and 69% of jail inmates in this country.

Far too many of our students - even those who do graduate from high school -are not ready. They are not ready for the coursework required in higher education. They are not ready to successfully enter the workforce. And if our students aren't ready, then no matter how well our state measures against others, we won't be ready.

One key component to being prepared is having the organizational structure in place to get the job done. This is why governance is so important. It gives us the structure we need to prepare for the future. The Executive Office and Secretary of Education will be focused on greater coordination throughout the system.

What is an Article 87? How does this process work?

Article 87 of Massachusetts Constitution authorizes the Governor to file one or more reorganizational plans for the purpose of "transferring, abolishing, consolidating or coordinating the whole or any part of any agency, or the functions, within the executive department."

After the Governor files a reorganization plan:

  • The plan is referred to the appropriate committee by the Clerks office of the House and Senate with the approval of the President and Speaker.
  • The assigned committee must hold a public hearing on the reorganization plan no later then 30 days after the filing.
  • The committee must report that it approves or disapproves of the plan within 10 days of the hearing.
  • The plan has the force of law upon expiration of 60 calendar days following the date it was filed by the Governor, unless it is disapproved by a majority of the members (present and voting) of either of the two branches of the legislature.

Why did the Governor decide to file an Article 87?

There are several reasons we decided to use the vehicle of an Article 87 for this bill:

  • It is the authority given to the Governor in the Constitution for the purpose of reorganizations, which this bill is.
  • An Article 87:
    • cannot be amended;
    • has a set time limit for being heard and decided;
    • ensures a public hearing on the issue

What is the role and powers of the proposed Secretary of Education?

The Secretary of Education would report directly to the Governor. He or she would be in charge of coordinating all sectors of the education system. Furthermore, the Secretary would be the entity responsible for looking comprehensively at our education system.

The more specific authorities of the Secretary include:

  • Approval authority over the hiring of Commissioners
  • A voting seat on each of the four sector boards
  • Approval authority over mission statements and 5-year master plans, both at the board level and within higher education, at the institutional level
  • Approval of budget and capital outlay requests at the board level and institutional level, within higher education

What is the difference between the proposed Secretary of Education and ones that the Commonwealth has had in the past?

There are several key differences between the Secretary the Governor is proposing and what existed in the 90's.

The Secretary we are proposing will have:

  • Approval authority over mission statements and 5-year master plans, both at the board level and within higher education, at the institutional level. The previous Secretary made recommendations around planning and goals for education, but had no authority to enforce those recommendations.
  • Approval of budget and capital outlay requests at the board level and institutional level, within higher education. The previous Secretary only had the ability to make recommendations on funding.

Why will Commissioners no longer serve on each others boards?

Originally Commissioners were placed on each others boards to create better coordination between the various sectors. Unfortunately, this has not worked out as well as we had originally intended. This is not the Commissioners fault, but rather a result of a structure that has self interested segments of the system all fighting each other for scarce resources. Under the current system there isn't any incentive or structural demand for someone who is thinking about the big picture and weighing priorities. This is why the creation of the Secretary is so important. We need a Secretary to sit on each of the boards and serve as a coordinator for the entire system.

Why is the size of the boards expanding?

The expansion of the boards is aimed at ensuring that educational stakeholders have a greater voice. We feel strongly that the board expansion will allow for a more diverse group of people to take part in shaping state educational policy.