Superintendents in poorly
performing Massachusetts schools can impose major policy changes, charter school
operators can double the number of seats in low-scoring districts, and the state
may have drawn closer to $250 million in federal funding under a law Gov. Deval
Patrick signed Monday aimed at reducing educational disparities along
demographic fissures.


During a Martin Luther King Jr. Day bill-signing at the
Children’s Museum, where several speakers invoked the civil rights icon’s memory
in praising the bill, Gov. Deval Patrick said he was “most excited” with the
so-called innovation schools created under the bill, which are intended to allow
administrative flexibility at traditional public schools.


“We do our kids a
tremendous disservice when we identify underperforming schools and do nothing
about it,” Patrick said. “What kind of a message is that?”


The ceremony drew an
unusual number of legislative Democrats, several of whom brought their children,
home from school for the holiday, along with them. Several officials made
reference to the arduous lawmaking process that produced the bill, assistant
House Majority Leader Ronald Mariano thanking Speaker Robert DeLeo, who was not
present, “for giving me the opportunity to twist some arms and get this thing


Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he had made numerous phone calls and met
with legislators, some of whom, he joked, were no long talking to him. “I like
it when it gets rough,” said Menino.