Assistant Director of COE's Center for Education Policy Named to State Committee

From the Hampshire Gazette

Amherst's Churchill Named to All-State School Committee
by mcarey

Amherst - Amherst School Committee Chairman Andrew Churchill has been recognized by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees for his service on the local board and statewide.

Churchill is "exceptionally well briefed on the issues of education and the education reform movement," said Glenn Koocher, executive director of the MASC. "He's probably in the 99th percentile of people who are knowledgeable about the ins and outs of what happens here."

One of 10 school committee members statewide to be named to the organization's 2008 All-State School Committee, Churchill will be honored at a Nov. 20 MASC conference in Hyannis.

He represents Division V of eight divisions. Past representatives from the area include Northampton Mayor Clare Higgins and Nathanael Fortune, of Whately.

Churchill said he was surprised to receive the honor.

"It's nice to have somebody give you a pat on the back."

But it takes a whole board, not just a single committee member to get things accomplished, he said.

"From that perspective I think it recognizes that in Amherst we're wrestling with real stuff. I see it as a credit to the entire board."

Churchill, who was first elected to the town panel in 2004, the first public office he had ever run for, is assistant director of the Center for Education Policy in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts. He is married to Jacqueline Churchill and the couple has two children in the Amherst schools.

He has been involved in "so many different elements of the education and education reform movement," Koocher said. "As a School Committee member, he's been a marvel of a person who combines diligence and knowledge of public policy and the mechanics of actually educating children."

Besides serving on tasks forces and helping with training sessions, he has been nominated to represent the MASC on a state oversight board.

The MASC offers training to individual School Committee members as well as to entire boards statewide. It could offer something along the lines of a retreat, if a school committee requested that, Koocher said. The Regional School Committee is considering taking one soon.

"I don't want to circumvent the School Committee in whatever they are deliberating, but MASC is an organization that does training for its members. It's up to the board to decide what they have to do," Koocher said.

Their fellow school committee members nominate candidates for appointment to the All-State School Committee. Criteria include that the nominee keeps education of children foremost, does not represent special interest groups, channels complaints to the proper authority, does not make commitments on behalf of the entire committee, is open and honest with administrators and other members and "avoids surprises whenever possible."