DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL candidate Maura Healey’s campaign won’t release the questionnaires she has filled out seeking the endorsement of special interest groups.
A spokeswoman for the campaign initially said the decision about releasing the questionnaires was up to the interest groups. One of the groups, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said it was leaving the decision to the candidates. Healey’s campaign then said it wouldn’t be releasing the candidate’s answers, offering no explanation why.
The issue of questionnaires first surfaced earlier this year, when Chris Dempsey, a Democratic candidate for state auditor, said he would be releasing his responses to be fully transparent and accountable. (He hasn’t released the questionnaire of Reproductive Equity Now because the organization asked him not to.)
Dempsey called on his rivals in the race to be equally transparent; his primary opponent, Sen. Diana DiZoglio, released several, but not all, of her questionnaires, while Republican Anthony Amore has released none of his so far. A Boston Globe editorial urged all candidates to release their questionnaires, saying they shouldn’t be making promises in secret.
Healey, who is currently the state’s attorney general, is facing no challenger in the Democratic gubernatorial primary and has participated in no debates, so releasing the answers to the questionnaires could illuminate where she stands on issues of importance to special interest groups.
In an interview with CommonWealth on August 12, Healey was asked if she supports MCAS and its graduation requirements.
“I think assessment is important. I think accountability is important. How you assess is something that I think is really open to discussion right now, as we know more about students and particularly their social emotional capacity,” she said.
Asked whether she believes a high-stakes test is the best way to assess students, she didn’t answer directly.
“I’m saying it is appropriate to look at MCAS right now and look at what it is measuring and what it is not measuring and are the things that are being measured the things that are actually setting students up for success,” she said. “I support an assessment test. I support standards and accountability. However, I also believe it is important that we actually engage with what that assessment is and make any changes that we need to make. This gets to the graduation requirement. What is it achieving? What is it not achieving? And I, as somebody who wants to be the education governor, recognizing the imperative of providing a quality education to every child in the state, regardless of zip code or income level, these are the kinds of hard conversations that we need to be having right now.”
The Massachusetts Teachers Association says in its candidate questionnaire that it favors eliminating the high-stakes nature of the MCAS test for high school graduation, supports “alternative measures of academic success,” and wants to expand state support for local school districts to develop their own assessment frameworks. Candidates are asked whether they agree or disagree with the MTA’s position.
In the auditor’s race, DiZoglio checked that she agreed with the MTA’s position. Dempsey checked neither box and instead wrote that his sister teaches at a consortium school in New York City that hasn’t adopted standardized testing and instead uses an alternative approach that provides “a fuller picture” of what students know and can do. He said he wants to explore alternative approaches to testing, although he believes “measurement is essential.”