The other thing that's not in the legislation — I'm sorry to go on about this, this is, I think, very cool — the thing that's not in the legislation but comes from the experience of creating the legislation, is that there are a whole bunch of folks who didn't talk with each other or work together, that are working together now. We have had that heart-to-heart with the charter folks about sharing what works with the traditional district schools. We've had that heart-to-heart with the leaders in the great district schools about sharing what works in their schools with other district schools and with the charters that aren't performing. There are some mechanisms that have grown organically, they're not state-run — relationships I guess, is really the way to talk about this — relationships that have come out of this and that I think will last. There are some very, very enlightened businesspeople who are at that table as well to help sustain it.

THE PHOENIX Just one question before we move on to another subject. The one group you don't mention are the teachers unions, not the teachers. As someone who has three kids in public schools, I'm continually impressed with the dedication of the teaching staff, and am astounded by the intransigence of teachers-union leadership about even opening their mind up. Now, not to tear the bandage off a wound . . .

PATRICK [laughs] Which wound?

THE PHOENIX I guess I'm trying to ask you, what is it that the teachers unions — plural — doesn't seem to get?

PATRICK I know where you're going, Peter. Let me respond this way. First of all, I am careful about painting with too broad a brush, "the teachers unions," as you say, in quotes. For one thing, the MTA [Massachusetts Teachers Association], whose leadership are, I think, marvelous, were at the table from the beginning in drafting the ed-reform bill. And there's a lot about this bill that is stronger because they were at the table, there's no doubt about it.

Now we could not agree on everything and there were a couple of issues at the end where they really dug in. I will say I think, and I don't mean to limit it to the MTA, but in this respect they you know, stirred up their members. I was at a meeting last night in Belmont, I think it was, there might have been a hundred or so teachers there having meetings — classroom teachers I'm talking about now — to explain the bill, what is in it and what's not.

The point we were trying to make with the unions and that we make with the classroom teachers is that we're not trying to do reform to the field, we want to do reform with the field. We have consulted with teachers and we have consulted with teachers unions, but there's a way to respect collective bargaining, which I do, without saying — maybe I should put it a different way. We have to show a sense of urgency about the kids who have been left behind, and we have to not let the interests of the adults overtake the interests of the kids. It has to continue to be about the kids. Classroom teachers get that, union reps get that, at least the ones we've been dealing with. But there are some institutional issues when you get to the line around collective bargaining that it's their job to worry about that. I don't fault them for that. But it's my job to worry about the kids. And that is first, last, and always for me.

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