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[Susan notes: You don't have to be from Massachusetts to worry about James A. Peyser's connections.]

Published in Metro West Daily
02/12/2004

To the editor



Barely two months after his top education advisor, James A. Peyser, left to join a venture capital group specializing in starting networks or

chains of charter schools, Gov. Romney has proposed rewriting state law to allow, for the first time, chains of charter schools in Massachusetts.



Could there be a connection here?



NewSchools Venture Fund, where Peyser is installed as a partner, has been most active in California. Peyser's role is to promote networks of so-called Charter Management Organizations in the East.



One of the CMOs that NewSchools has backed, San Diego-based High Tech High, is already collaborating with the founding group of a proposed charter school in Cambridge.



Meanwhile, Peyser remains chairman of the state Board of Education which will be voting this month on the Cambridge application, along with four other proposals for commonwealth charter schools.



Peyser's tenure has been shrouded byconflicts of interest since he became board chair in 1999, first because of his job as executive director of the conservative Pioneer Institute, a leading voice for charter schools, then because of the many hats he has worn within

succeeding Republican administrations.



However, his latest conflict, as a charter-school-promoting venture capitalist while chairing the public board that not only approves

applications for new charters but oversees the operation of existing schools, may be the most egregious.



It's time for Gov. Romney, the man who claims to have cleaned up the Olympics, to expend a little elbow grease to his own kitchen. It's time he told Peyser to step down.



Paul Dunphy, Citizens for Public Schools


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