Letter: Our former governor

In both presidential debates, Mitt Romney has been trumpeting his successes as governor of Massachusetts. He claims to have balanced the state budget all four years — though he actually left behind a hefty deficit. He lauds his plan to furnish health insurance for “all the people, all the children of the state” — but would never allow that model to be adopted nationwide. What’s more, he takes full credit for the excellence of Massachusetts schools during his administration. What did he do for schools and for public higher education in this state? I once met the then-governor at a conference where he was to give a speech and was introduced to him. When I said I lived in the Five College area and worked for Five Colleges, Incorporated — he looked blankly at me and asked “What’s that?” I had to explain that it was the oldest and one of the most distinguished consortiums in higher education in the country (this at a time when collaboration among colleges and universities was being much discussed as a means to maintain excellence while holding down costs). Then he asked me, “What are the colleges?” I listed them — Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith and UMass Amherst. He thanked me and promptly walked away. To be governor of the whole state, he might at least have familiarized himself with what’s here in western Massachusetts — some of the nation’s finest and oldest liberal arts colleges and the flagship campus of the state system of higher education. And now he’s taking credit for their excellence and that of schools in this state. Quoting Bill Clinton: “that takes brass.”



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