'The Right Direction To Go In': Former Mass. Education Secretary Reville On Gov. Baker's Push To Reopen Schools


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Speaking on Boston Public Radio Thursday, former Mass. education secretary Paul Reville expressed support for a proposal presented Tuesday by the Baker administration, effectively forcing elementary classrooms to reopen by April.

"I do think it’s the right direction to go in,” he said, citing decreasing COVID-19 cases in the state, and increasing knowledge about how to conduct in-person learning safely. He acknowledged, though, that the process is likely to be "complicated and controversial.”

During the announcement earlier this week, Education Commissioner Jeffery Riley said he plans to ask schools in March to give him authority to determine when hybrid and remote learning models no longer count towards state-mandated learning hours. He added that the goal is to bring elementary student back by April, followed by middle and high school students “later in the school year."

"It is not a set mandate,” Reville explained, calling the proposal an “indirect route” to getting children back in classrooms. “The governor has not done something he could do, which is declare emergency powers and mandate and require local districts to do it.”

"I think the motivation and the statistics they’re citing, particularly on children’s mental health issues, is really compelling when you take a look at the number of cries for help that are coming in and being unmet by the mental health system,” he said, “many of which were being met in some way shape or form by school, or by virtue of being in schools.”

Reville is the former Mass. secretary of education and a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, where he also heads the Education Redesign Lab. His latest book, co-authored with Elaine Weiss, is: "Broader, Bolder, Better: How Schools and communities help Students Overcome the Disadvantages of Poverty.”

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