SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 14, 2012

Ex-Swampscott schools chief named ed secretary

By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

---- — SWAMPSCOTT — With two years remaining on his second term, Gov. Deval Patrick yesterday announced a major overhaul of his senior Cabinet, including the appointment of former Swampscott Superintendent of Schools Matthew Malone to education secretary.

Patrick announced the shake-up of his Cabinet yesterday at the Statehouse flanked by all current, outgoing and incoming members of his team. He said he asked each member of his Cabinet to commit to another two years, or step aside so that he can move into his last legislative session with a team that will be in place until the end.

Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez, Health and Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby, Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan, and Education Secretary Paul Reville all plan to step down next month.

“Each has contributed significantly and earned their rest. Some are ready and able to continue and some cannot,” Patrick said, brought to the verge of tears after offering praise for each and noting that in addition to being “wise advisers,” they “are also my friends.”

Reville, the governor’s first and only education secretary after he created the post in 2007, plans to teach at Harvard and pursue other opportunities, saying that two more years was too much to commit to.

Asked about his legacy in the secretariat, Reville mentioned “achievement gap” legislation in 2010, a lift on the charter school cap, the state’s work to secure Race to the Top grants and recent community college reforms. Going forward, Reville predicted that funding will be an issue in two areas in particular.

“I think matters of getting the sufficient amount of money to do the things we want to do within the Board of Education, particularly in early childhood and higher education where costs are going up,” Reville told the News Service, in response to a question about what he saw on the agenda.

Malone comes to the administration from Brockton, where he clashed in recent years with that city’s elected leaders and planned to depart before being offered the secretariat position. He came under particular criticism in 2011 when he acknowledged that the School Department had not been properly conducting background checks of employees after a tutor had been charged with raping an elementary school student in a city school, and it was learned the tutor hadn’t had a criminal check, according to the Brockton Enterprise.

Though Malone may have clashed with the Brockton School Committee, Patrick called Malone a “rising star” in education. “The overwhelming feedback on secretary-designate Malone from his time in Brockton and before that in Swampscott and San Diego has been overwhelmingly positive. I think he’s exactly the kind of implementer we need at this moment. He’s also a protege of the outgoing secretary, so he’s been touched by the seeder of education reform and I think he’s going to be great,” Patrick said.

Glenn Koocher of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees credited Reville with shielding public education from the worst effects of the recession and said he looked forward to working with Malone.

“Having an education secretary like Malone who has actually run a public school district, evaluated a principal, negotiated a collective bargaining agreement, and confronted reams and reams and reams of state regulation will be extremely helpful when we’re trying to deal with educating children at the local level,” Koocher said. “Malone’s personal courage is legendary. Personally, I look forward to working with him.”

As for the other Cabinet posts, Gonzalez, Bigby and Heffernan will be replaced, respectively, by Health Insurance Connector Authority Executive Director Glen Shor, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center President John Polanowicz and Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral.