I couldn't show James Peyser's face in this cartoon because, as of the due date for this cartoon, no photograph of him had appeared in either Boston paper. Now that I have seen a picture of him I can say that this doesn't look entirely unlike him.
Peyser is the head of the Pioneer Institute, a rightwing think tank in Boston that advocates for vouchers, charter schools, and other measures leading to the privatization of public education. Massachusetts Board of Education Chairman John Silber and Governor Cellucci wanted Peyser to be named Commissioner of Education on the theory that he would be a ruthless reformer (read: teacher-basher). In an unexpected revolt against Silber's autocratic leadership, however, the Board refused to give Peyser the necessary votes. To resolve the impasse, Silber resigned and the job of Chairman (which is appointed, not elected) went to Peyser, while the Commissioner job went to David Driscoll, regarded as anti-reform because he opposes testing of veteran teachers. Nevertheless Cellucci has claimed the outcome as a victory for his policies, and this cartoon expresses the fear that he may be right.
This cartoon also expresses the fallacious notion that heating oil adds fuel to a fire. Now my brother Chris tells me you probably could put out a fire with home heating oil in its liquid state -- it's vaporized oil that we burn in our furnaces. Don't tell anybody.
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