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Mass. Secretary of Education Makes First Tour of Berkshires

The recently appointed Massachusetts Secretary of Education visited with school superintendents and local officials in the Berkshires today to hear suggestions for improving the state education system.

Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone made his first trip to the Western-most communities in the Commonwealth since taking office in January of this year. At a luncheon at Berkshire Community College with local leaders, he spent time talking with school superintendents and elected officials in support of Governor Patrick’s reforms to education introduced in his FY 2014 Budget Proposal.

The Governor’s plan calls for a raise in taxes to pay for a number of education initiatives from K-12, as well as more support for community colleges and public universities.

Secretary Malone also received feedback from attendees on several state education issues. Though in support of the initiative, Superintendent of North Adams Public Schools Jim Montepare raised the issue of smaller school districts in the Western part of the state finding challenges in adapting to the state’s new Common Core curriculum.

Michael Supranowicz, President and CEO of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, and also a member of the Berkshire Community College board of trustees, said that he wishes Massachusetts would participate in a U.S. census program called Local Employment Dynamics. Supranowicz said that if Massachusetts participates in the program it can help the business community work with schools to determine how to educate students for the jobs available in their area.

And 3rd Berkshire District State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier suggested that with the Governor’s education budget putting a strong focus on early education, the state must ensure that teachers and educators are adequately supported.

After the meeting, Secretary Malone said he learned about the needs of a community far different than Boston.

The Secretary continued his tour of the Berkshires with a stop in Peru, and to the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.