This letter came by email from a teacher in Massachusetts. Evidently, the Commissioner of Education believes there are some bad, bad teachers in his state, and he wants the power to remove them quickly. Bear in mind that by every current metric, Massachusetts is the highest performing state in the nation. It must have many excellent teachers. Why does Commissioner Mitchell Chester need a whip in his hand. This kind of power play is threatening and demoraling, as well as unprofessional.

For trying to intimidate teachers, for failing to congratulate them for their dedication, by demonizing them with actions such as those described here, Mitchell Chester now joins this blog’s Wall of Shame.

“Mitchell Chester is the MA Dept of Ed Commissioner who also had the serious conflict of interest as Chair of the PARCC Governing Board. He pushed for MCAS 2.0, which is 90% PARCC. He still has a job.

“MESSAGE SENT TO MA TEACHERS [apparently by the Massachusetts Teachers Association]:

“Below you will find some very disturbing information about DESE’s intentions around licensure changes that I have recently been made aware of.

“Back on March 10, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education released some proposed changes to the regulations around educator licensure…

“The concerning regulation changes are about how DESE can suspend, limit or revoke an educator’s license. In the current regulations, the Commissioner of Education can suspend or revoke a license if it is found that the “holder of the license is unfit to perform the duties for which the license was granted.” As you may have experienced, there are times when a member may have been investigated for some reason and DESE will also investigate to determine if the license should be suspended. In my experience, this happens in only the worst case scenarios.

“The proposed changes to the regulation give the Commissioner of Education, currently Mitchell Chester, much more flexibility in determining if an educator’s license should be suspended or revoked. The new regulations contain the following language changes: “The holder of the license is unfit to perform the duties for which the license was granted, or engaged in misconduct that, in the opinion of the Commissioner, discredits the profession, brings the license into disrepute, compromises student safety or the integrity of the student-educator relationship;” (the new language is in bold).

“As you can see, the new pieces of language have far-reaching implications and since it is determined based upon the “opinion of the Commissioner” our ability to contest these claims would be severely hindered.

“Some of the questions that come out of this are the effects on one’s First Amendment Rights by the broad nature of the statements: “discredits the profession” and “integrity of the student-educator relationship”. Do these statements mean:

*If you promote opt-out information, you could be subject to an investigation.

*If you state displeasure with any policies coming down from the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education or the Federal government, you could be investigated

*If you participate in a work action as part of a contract campaign, you could be subject to an investigation

“These are questions that have yet to be answered, but the MTA legal division has expressed to me and all the other field reps in the state that we should be concerned about this.

“Here is a general timeline that I know of at this point:

“The public comment continues until Monday May 1. In the coming days, I will have more information on MTA sponsored feedback on these regulations. If you are interested in giving feedback sooner, the website is:http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=24232.

“On May 20th, the MTA is co-sponsoring a rally at the Boston Common. Initially, this rally was to bring attention to the general concerns around education in the state, but I believe this proposal will become a focal point of this event. I have fliers that will be distributed early next week for this.

“On June 27, the BESE is expected to vote on these proposed regulatory changes. While no firm plans have been made for a presence at the meeting, I am almost certain that, if the Board moves forward with the changes, we will be asking if people would like to attend the BESE Meeting.”

Any questions please let me know. Also, if you want to forward this email to members, please feel free. Please read the attachment for further information.