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Massachusetts Education Secretary Resigns from Cabinet

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's secretary of education, Paul Reville, will not be a part of the governor's cabinet during the final two years Patrick (a Democrat) is in office, the Boston Globe reported Dec. 12.

Reville is leaving the position not due to any personal or political spat with Patrick, according to the Associated Press, but because Patrick has asked all of his cabinet members to formally commit to remaining in his administration until his current term expires in 2014. Those not prepared to give that commitment are departing. The Globe subsequently reported that outgoing Brockton Public Schools Superintendent Matthew Malone will take Reville's place. Reville is expected to step aside officially in January.

In the Bay State, Reville's position is interesting because there is also a commissioner of elementary and secondary education, Mitchell D. Chester, who maintains national prominence in part because of his position as president of the Council of Chief State School Officers. Reville maintains a more general role in education in Massachusetts, since he works with the state's department in early child care, higher education, and the state university system, as well as the state K-12 system. But he does have a vote on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (where he formerly served as chairman) and is ultimately Patrick's top education advisor, as his biography states. His far-reaching role is somewhat similar to the position Rudy Crew has over education, K-12 and beyond, in Oregon. The position of education secretary in the state was created in 2008 and filled by Reville that year.

Reville has also worked at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and previously served as president of the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy, based in Cambridge, Mass., and led the Pew Forum on Standards-Based School Reform. In 2011, he (along with Jeffrey Henig) also wrote a piece for Education Week Commentary about nonschool factors influencing how people think about educational achievement.

Reville was involved in the Massachusetts Race to the Top plan, but his signature achievement was pushing through the state's Achievement Gap Act in 2010. This act, among other things, lifted the charter school cap specifically for "providers with records of success" that would work in relatively poor-performing districts, and also create more intervention tools for districts. Reville's support for charters, however, got him into some hot water in 2009, when he wrote an email to Chester saying that he (Chester) should support a charter school application in Gloucester, lest the state be perceived as hostile to charters in general, the Gloucester Times reported.

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