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April 10, 2014

McGeney: Mitchell Chester needs to go

PEABODY — The School Committee is asking state officials to investigate whether state Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester has a conflict of interest with the new educational standards he’s promoting.

Committee member Dave McGeney, an outspoken critic of Common Core, believes there is a major conflict and Chester should be booted out of office. He said he’s had it with Chester, who’s been “utterly” disingenuous during the rollout of the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) trial test, and who, in fact, has a vested interest in Massachusetts jumping aboard the Common Core bandwagon. McGeney also says there’s no evidence to back up many of Chester’s statements on the benefits of PARCC.

Chester is the national chairman of the PARCC Governing Board for the third year and was instrumental in developing the standards.

“He’s been running around the state portraying the PARCC test as a two-year trial, and there’s all kinds of literature with his name attached to it and statements that it’s a trial ... but his actions belie that,” McGeney told The Salem News prior to Tuesday’s committee vote.

McGeney said what “pushed him over the edge” was when he learned Chester was due to speak to executives in Washington, D.C., on “how to handle Common Core dissenters,” according to McGeney. “That’s what we are now; we’re labeled as ‘dissenters,’” he said. “The deck is stacked, the game is rigged, and I don’t like it. We have the least to gain and the most to lose.

“When we took the Race to the Top money ... the federal government said, ‘We’ll give you this money, and you have to agree to adopt the Common Core standards’” McGeney said. “The standards hadn’t been written yet. It’s the same deal as Obamacare. We signed on to the deal and didn’t even know what it was.”

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