Independent candidate for governor Timothy Cahill today pledged to support the commonwealth’s recent adoption of national education standards, even though he has opposed the move during the campaign.
Cahill told business leaders at an event sponsored by Associated Industries of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education that as governor, he will support the so-called Common Core standards as long as they do not water down the success of the Massachusetts education reform.
“I’m not here to fight old fights. I’m all about results, that’s what I care about,” Cahill said.
“You have a commitment that we will work hard and closely with you because we share the same goals.”
Cahill struck a pragmatic tone during remarks at the first of three AIM/MBAE gubernatorial forums on education and its importance to the Massachusetts economy. The state treasurer maintained that his experience restructuring the sprawling state school construction program underscores his ability to manage complex problems, promote efficiency and forge alliances with labor unions and other groups that are key to improving public schools.
On the issues, Cahill supports merit pay implemented at the school-system level, continued progress on education reform and attention to what he calls the “unspoken achievement gap” harming students in small communities that lack the political clout of large cities and affluent suburbs.
He also maintained that the commonwealth’s ability to improve its schools depends upon its ability to improve its economy. He said he does not intend to reduce funding for public schools but that “everything is on the table” given the current fiscal crisis.
“At the end of the day, we can’t solve any of our problems if people aren’t working,” he said.
The candidate said his approach to education reflects personal experience with public schools. One of nine children, he said the eldest four siblings in his family received better educations before the imposition of Proposition 2 ½ than the younger five children did after the measure that limited increases in local property taxes. He sent two of his own children to private school because of delays and political wrangling over the construction of a public high school.
But it is the school construction program, Cahill said, that offers the best glimpse into his approach for building a sound financial basis for educational improvement. The treasurer pushed aggressively during 2004 for a school finance reform bill and has since used that law to reduce construction costs, compress timelines for building schools and create more accountability among local school disctricts.
“We build schools and pay for them as we are building them,” he said.
AIM will post video of Cahill’s remarks in the next several days.
The next session in the AIM/MBAE series will take place September 22 from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. as Republican challenger Charles Baker discussed education issues. Incumbent Democrat Deval Patrick will speak on September 29 from 8:30-10 a.m. Contact Candace Kydd for registration information.