Boston- State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) on Thursday voted for targeted improvements in the state’s education system to create a comprehensive and cohesive public education experience for students that will prepare them better for the workforce.
“I am encouraged by this Administration’s commitment to strengthening our public education system. We need to take a fresh look at this system and find ways to improve the classroom experience to better prepare our students for the real challenges that await them,” said Downing. “This creates accountability in the system and paves the way for further reform to public education.”
The bill creates an Executive Office of Education and adds a new cabinet-level Secretary of Education appointed by the Governor. The Office and its Secretary will focus on improving policy and coordination between the areas of public early education, K-12 and higher education.
“This legislation takes the necessary steps to enhance the Commonwealth’s education system,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “I want to acknowledge the Administration for its foresight and leadership in this effort to streamline education efforts. This bill will increase the level of opportunity for students throughout their educational experience and into the workplace.”
The legislation allows for the Executive Office of Education to contain the existing Department of Early Education and Care, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (formerly the Department of Education), and a new Department of Higher Education.
The bill expands the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to 11 members; the Board of Higher Education to 13 members; and the Board of Early Education and Care to 11 members. Expanding the Boards will help ensure greater diversity in experience, talent and perspective that will benefit the system and provide a wider range of input to the new Secretary of Education.
Under this legislation, the Secretary is responsible for reviewing and approving goals, requirements, mission statements and five-year master plans for the entire public education system. The Secretary will also review and approve the Departments’ budget recommendations and serve as a voting member on each of the Boards.
The Secretary will also serve as a member on the Board of the University of Massachusetts pertaining to higher education.