The article below was submitted to Patch.
Massachusetts Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Rep. Alice Hanlon Peisch, were awarded the 2012 Walter G. Turner Award by the American Educational Service Agency (AESA) Dec. 10. The co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Education were selected for the prestigious award for their outstanding contributions to the advancement of regional education programs in Massachusetts.
Joan Schuman, Executive Director of the Collaborative for Educational Services, nominated Chang-Diaz and Peisch for the award, and introduced them at the award ceremony at the AESA Annual Conference in Tampa, Florida Monday afternoon.
Schuman said the two legislators have “opened the eyes of the state as to what educational collaboratives can accomplish.” As new co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Education in 2011, Chang-Diaz and Peisch led a legislative commission exploring the benefits and liabilities of school regionalization. Their report to the legislature recommended public schools in Massachusetts “develop and implement a more effective statewide model of collaboration, which can be achieved by expanding the existing network of educational collaboratives in Massachusetts.”
Schuman added the legislators’ understanding of the breadth of services and support collaboratives provide to public school districts was critical when “the malfeasance of one of our members brought intense scrutiny by a variety of state agencies to all educational collaboratives around the state.” She said Chang-Diaz and Peisch were able to “stave off the anger of their peers who proposed dismantling the network of collaboratives in Massachusetts.”
Steve Theall, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Organization of Educational Collaboratives agreed. “We are deeply indebted to and thankful for the leadership, wisdom and courage they demonstrated in resolving a very difficult situation,” he said.
The Education Committee co-chairs designed legislation that according to Schuman “ensures accountability while allowing collaboratives to continue their excellent efforts in supporting public schools.”