One of the little-noticed aspects of the recent events regarding the nomination of Bill Beardsley to be Maine’s commissioner of education is a recommendation letter written by the Maine State Board of Education to Gov. LePage.

State law requires the board to interview candidates and offer its opinion about his or her qualifications. The board’s “support” for the nominee rivals that of Shakespeare’s Mark Antony.

For his eulogy of Julius Caesar, Antony agreed to only speak positively of Marcus Brutus, who had aided in the murder of Caesar. So Antony wrote a thinly veiled attack highlighted by the now-immortal line of sarcasm: “But Brutus was an honorable man.”

The board’s members (LePage appointees all) channeled Shakespeare’s Antony, speaking in glowing terms while leaving evidence to the contrary between the lines.

Beardsley lacks experience in K-12 education: “However, his wife is a long-term educator and he admits that she has strongly assisted in his preparation for this position.”

Beardsley is a poor communicator: “Bill needs to be more succinct and understandable in his public communication. He is such a deep thinker that his points are sometimes lost on his listeners.” Since communicating is a huge part of the job, “he needs to make certain that staff assist him in making his remarks clear to the audience.”

Then this ouch: “He is a ‘big idea’ person. This could be a weakness because now is not the time for huge changes.”

Anyone who has written a recommendation that they didn’t really want to write knows what the phrase “damning with faint praise” means. And, as the letter says, the board knows Beardsley well. “Bill was a colleague on our board for three years. We therefore know him better than we might from an interview.”

And Bill Beardsley (wink, wink) is an honorable man.

Benjamin Reid