Monday, August 11, 2014

11th Essex State Rep Q&A: Brendan Crighton

Lynn Councilor At-Large Brendan Crighton is one of three candidates running for the 11th Essex District State Representative seat vacated by Steven Walsh (D) this January. The 11th Essex consists of Wards 4-3, 5-1, 5-4, 6 and 7 in Lynn as well as the Town of Nahant. 


Brendan Crighton is a lifelong Lynn resident and product of the Lynn Public Schools. He attended Lincoln-Thomson Elementary School, Breed Junior High, and Classical High School before earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Government from Colby College and Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Suffolk University. Crighton was elected to the Lynn City Council in 2010 as Ward 5 Councilor, which he served for two terms before being elected to Councilor-at-Large in 2014. Crighton has worked for State Senator Tom McGee for the past nine years, the last four as his Chief of Staff. In Senator McGee’s office, he has had the opportunity to work on a number of issues including budgetary and legislative matters, Transportation, Labor and Workforce Development, Public Service and Veterans Affairs Committee work, and most importantly, constituent services. Crighton serves on a number of boards including the Gregg House and My Brother’s Table Boards of Directors, as well as an active member of the Lynn Democratic City Committee, North Shore Young Democrats, Friends of Ward 5, Ancient Order of the Hibernians-Division 10, Friends of Lynn Woods, Friendly Knights of St. Patrick, and Friends of Lynn and Nahant Beach. Crighton currently resides in West Lynn with his wife Andrea. 

Here Brendan answers a few education related questions: 

 What is your understanding of the major education related issues facing Lynn? How does this compare to the issues Nahant is facing?

I believe I am uniquely qualified to be a strong advocate for education issues in the 11th Essex district because of my proven commitment to supporting and strengthening public education during my 9 years working for State Senator Tom McGee and 4.5 years on the Lynn City Council. One major issue facing Lynn is the conditions of the school buildings. I voted to fund the new Marshall Middle School in Lynn and worked hard to make sure it passed a city wide referendum. We need to continue to work with the Massachusetts School Building Authority, and advocate for other Lynn school building upgrades and replacements. Our young people have so much to offer and that is why I started the Lynn Youth Council to give students a voice in their government and to encourage civic participation. Most importantly, I meet regularly with parents and students to hear their ideas on how to improve the public school system based on first hand experiences.

As State Representative, I vow to push for Chapter 70 funding increases so that they continue to be reflective of the student population increases. Two other education related priorities are universal pre-kindergarten and increased after school funding and programming. Children who participate in high-quality early education, develop better language and social skills, test better, and have fewer behavioral problems once they enter school. Currently 80% of children and youth in Massachusetts do not have access to affordable, high quality after school and expanded learning opportunities. I was fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of some of Lynn’s after school programs during my youth, and I believe that every young person should have that same opportunity. Both of these education programs are in high demand and are critical in closing the achievement gap.

In addition to Chapter 70 funding, one of the biggest education issues facing Nahant is reimbursement for circuit breaker special education which has a tremendous impact on their overall budget. For small towns like Nahant, the state needs to provide direct funding for special education to ensure that every student is getting the high quality education services that they deserve.

    The current Massachusetts school funding formula was originally developed in 1993. Do you believe the formula to be outdated? In what sense?

As State Representative, I would support legislation to revive the Foundation Budget Review Commission to examine and report on the resources needed for all students to achieve success and identify operating efficiencies that can be made by school districts.

    According to the latest Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reports, there are 1,026 students from Lynn and Nahant that are pre-enrolled in a charter school for school year 2014-15. What is your stance on charter schools? Do they have a place in public education, specifically in Lynn?

I am a proud product of Lynn Public Schools K-12, where I learned so much from the hard working teachers and faculty. I am against raising the cap on charter schools. I do not believe that public tax dollars should be diverted to charter schools because of the adverse impact it has on the students and educators in traditional public schools. Public schools need every dollar of dedicated funding they can get.


  In an article titled ‘A fairer test score measure’ Jack Schneider and Massachusetts State Senator Pat Jehlen (D) write: “Standardized test scores, which constitute the lion’s share of how we evaluate school effectiveness, are highly problematic. Standardized tests capture a narrow slice of life in schools and reflect only a fraction of what the public values. …And they are subject to gaming.” What is your opinion on standardized testing and the use of test scores to measure school quality as well as teacher effectiveness?

Though I believe there must be some measurement we use to evaluate our public school system, I have concerns about the use of standardized test scores to primarily measure school quality and teacher effectiveness. Every school district is different and faces unique challenges when it comes to educating students.

Standardized test scores are the tool that is used to measure schools effectiveness, yet it is not always reflective of the progress a student has made year to year. That is why it is important when analyzing our schools’ quality that we don't narrowly focus on test scores for a single year, but rather look at how students have improved year to year. I believe growth model assessments are important in order to comprehend a student’s preparedness and college readiness throughout their school career.

  If elected, in what ways will you advocate for better public education for the students and families living the 11th Essex District?

If elected, I will work hard to make sure our communities get the education and special education funding they deserve, along with access to pre-kindergarten and after school programs. I have already fostered relationships with education advocates and agencies through my legislative and budgetary work in Senator McGee’s office. Just recently, I earned the endorsement of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. The future of our state depends on our hard-working teachers and a strong public school system. Education must always be a top priority and I look forward to working hard to make sure the resources are there for our teachers and students.

Thank you for your time in reading this post. To keep up with the campaign, please check out, find Brendan Crighton for State Representative on Facebook and Twitter. Also, please feel free to email us at

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