Massachusetts Board of Education

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The Massachusetts Board of Education (BOE) is the state education agency responsible for interpreting and implementing laws relevant to public education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Public education in the Commonwealth is organized according to the regulations adopted by the BOE, which are good faith interpretations of Massachusetts state and federal law. The BOE's responsibilities include granting and renewing charter school applications, developing and implementing the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), submitting yearly budget proposals for public education to the Massachusetts General Court, setting the standards for and certifying teachers, principals, and superintendents, and monitoring — as well as intervening to ameliorate — the achievement of underperforming districts in the Commonwealth.


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The board was established in 1837[1] and is the second oldest state board of education in the United States. Governor Edward Everett had recommended the establishment of a board of education in his address to the 1837 legislature's opening session. His brief argument ran as follows:

While nothing can be further from my purpose, than to disparage the common schools as they are, and while a deep sense of personal obligation to them will ever be cherished by me, it must yet be candidly admitted that they are susceptible of great improvements. The school houses might, in many cases, be rendered more commodious. Provision ought to be made for affording the advantages of education, throughout the whole year, to all of a proper age to receive it. Teachers well qualified to give elementary instruction in all the branches of useful knowledge, should be employed; and small school libraries, maps, globes, and requisite scientific apparatus should be furnished. I submit to the Legislature, whether the creation of a board of commissioners of schools, to serve without salary, with authority to appoint a secretary, on a reasonable compensation, to be paid from the school fund, would not be of great utility.[2]

The legislature's Committee on Education, led by Senate chairman Josiah Quincy, Jr. and House chairman James G. Carter, sponsored a bill which was initially soundly defeated in the House. Largely as a result of efforts by Mr. Carter, the bill was eventually passed.[3] Horace Mann, President of the Massachusetts State Senate at the time, was appointed the board's first Secretary.[4]


The BOE is composed of eleven members. 10 are appointed by the governor, including his Secretary of Education, who serves ex officio, and one is a public school student elected by his or her peers. The 11 voting members are: "the chairman of the student advisory council established under this section; 1 representative of a labor organization selected by the governor from a list of 3 nominees provided by the Massachusetts State Labor Council, AFL-CIO; 1 representative of business or industry selected by the governor with a demonstrated commitment to education; 1 representative of parents of school children selected by the governor from a list of 3 nominees provided by the Massachusetts Parent Teachers Association; and 6 members selected by the governor." [1] The Chairperson of the BOE is appointed by the governor. The secretary of the BOE must be approved by a two thirds vote and serves at the Board's pleasure as the chief executive officer, the Chief State School Officer for Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Commissioner of Education. The Commissioner attends BOE meetings, but does not vote. He is responsible for managing the Massachusetts Department of Education and receives a salary which is determined by the Board. [2]

Prior to legislation introduced by Governor Patrick in 2008, the Board was composed of 9 voting members.

Advisory Councils[edit]

A number of Advisory Councils, created by Chapter 15: Section 1G of the General Laws of Massachusetts, support the Board with research, recommendations and — in the case of the Student Advisory Council — is represented by a voting member of the Board. The advisory councils include:

Adult Basic Education [3]
Arts Education [4]
Braille Literacy [5]
Community Service Learning [6]
Educational Personnel [7]
Educational Technology [8]
English Language Learners/Bilingual Education [9]
Gifted and Talented Education [10]
Global Education [11]
Interdisciplinary Health Education and Human Services [12]
Life Management Skills and Home Economics [13]
Mathematics and Science Education [14]
Parent and Community Education and Involvement [15]
Racial Imbalance [16]
Special Education [17]
Massachusetts State Student Advisory Council
Technology/Engineering Education [18]
Violence Prevention
Vocational-Technical Education

Student Membership[edit]

The Massachusetts BOE is unique in that 1 of its 9 members is a Massachusetts public school student. Legislation was filed in 1971 by Governor Francis W. Sargent which created the position. By this same legislation, the Massachusetts State Student Advisory Council was established. The Chairperson of this Council sits as a full voting member on the Massachusetts BOE. Governor Sargent said at the filing of the bill, "If we are to replace confrontation with deliberation and shouting with dialogue, youth must be invited in, not shut out. We have ... a climate where young and old can sit together, talk, and listen."[19] Nathan Moore is the current student member of the Massachusetts BOE.

Current members[edit]

Paul Sagan, Chair
Ed Doherty, Jamaica Plain
Nathan Moore, Chair, Student Advisory Council, Scituate
Katherine Craven, Babson Park
Vanessa Calderón-Rosado
Margaret McKenna
James Peyser, Secretary of Education
James O'S. Morton
Penny Noyce
Mary Ann Stewart
David Roach

Mitchell D. Chester, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, Secretary to the Board

Former members[edit]

Horace Mann - First secretary of the board (1837)
Charlie Baker[20]
Maura Banta, Chair, Melrose
Harneen Chernow, Jamaica Plain George S. Boutwell
James G. Carter, Leominster
Gerald Chertavian, Cambridge
Richard E Cohen
Dr. Stanley Z. Koplik
Trevor Frederick
Thomas E. Fortmann, Lexington
Dr. Judith Gill
Beverly Holmes, Springfield
Jeff Howard, Reading
Jody Kelman
Emily Levine
James Madden
Dana Mohler-Faria, Bridgewater
James A. Peyser [21]
Ann Reale, Boston
Paul Reville, Secretary of Education, Worcester
Michael Sentance, Secretary of Education, Concord
Dr. John Silber, Chair, Boston
Sandra L. Stotsky, Brookline
Abigail Thernstrom
Henry M. Thomas, III
Jonathan Urbach
Daniel Brogan, Chair Emeritus, State Student Advisory Council
Ryan Casey, Chair Emeritus, State Student Advisory Council
Jeff DeFlavio, Chair Emeritus, State Student Advisory Council
Andrew "AJ" Fajnzylber, Chair Emeritus, State Student Advisory Council
Michael D'Ortenzio Jr., Chair Emeritus, State Student Advisory Council
Donald Willyard, Chair Emeritus, State Student Advisory Council


  1. ^ George Adams (1853). "Education in Massachusetts". Massachusetts Register. Boston: Printed by Damrell and Moore. 
  2. ^ Massachusetts General Court records for 1837, Senate #1, Page 17.
  3. ^ Ellwood Patterson Cubberley (1913), "State of Massachusetts", in Paul Monroe, Cyclopedia of Education, 4, New York: Macmillan, pp. 147–157 – via HathiTrust 
  4. ^ Martin, George H. (1915). Evolution of the Massachusetts Public School System: a historical sketch. New York: D. Appleton and Company – via HathiTrust. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Massachusetts Board of Education, Annual Report, Boston – via HathiTrust  1837-1923, fulltext

External links[edit]