Sunday, April 22, 2012

::Revolution 2012

Back in 2011, I posted about the impact the shift was having on business and on American education policy. That shift is non-linear and not without challenges. The emphasis in business and in education is on collaboration, accountability, and teamwork requiring trust, support, experience, and time.

In education, the shift from teaching to learning requires the use of multiple strategies, sourcing media, creating original work developed in collaboration with others sharing the same goals for all students to learn, grow, and achieve. 

There is a lot to say about engaging students with the technology necessary for success, for example, the prevalence of iPads in kindergartens, or in the way Khan Academy is revolutionizing technology use, thereby flipping the way we may view homework, or through blended-learning strategies. In these scenarios, the teacher clarifies questions and students receive individual instruction; a teacher functions more as a coach and interactive content facilitator and less a "sage on stage".

And, what is tremendously exciting is there are simple structures in existence right now that can have a positive, widespread impact on schools and achievement. For example, with the dollars we have dedicated to LPS' professional development, it is exciting to partner and collaborate with educators (who are more responsible than ever) for meeting the needs of every child. Whole Professional Learning Communities are working to hone skills for individualizing instruction to successfully engage in a collective process that provides each child with targeted instruction, additional time, and support necessary to learn at high levels. 

I will have more to say about this - - it requires a bit more research on my part before I do so. 

Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

::School Matters @Panera

Join me in a relaxed atmosphere at Panera, 1684 Mass Av in Lexington Center, to discuss your concerns, questions, and thoughts about what's good and what we can improve upon in our schools:

Thursday, April 26, 9:30-10:30 AM
Wednesday, May 2, 3:30-4:30 PM
Wednesday, May 16, 9:30-10:30 AM
Tuesday, May 29, 3:30-4:30 PM
Wednesday, June 13, 9:30-10:30 AM

For LPS business, email Mary Ann at or email the School Committee: writing or responding, please be aware that the Secretary of State has determined that most email is a public record and may not, therefore, be kept confidential.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

::Public Testimony

Public Testimony of Mary Ann Stewart to The Joint Committee on Education
Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Co-Chair, Room 312D
Representative Alice Peisch, Co-Chair, Room 473G
Boston State House, Room B-1
April 10, 2012

Madam Co-Chairs, Honorable members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today about a proposal that threatens to undo what a 40-member task force was only able to accomplish in many, many hours of meeting discussions from August 2010 to March 2011.

My name is Mary Ann Stewart, I’m a parent of three, and three weeks ago I became the Immediate Past President of the Massachusetts PTA. As President, I served as a member of the Educator Evaluation Task Force. The PTA is the oldest and largest child advocacy association in the country - in Massachusetts we are 112 years old. I think it's fair to say that PTA has been standing for children longer than anyone. I know I did not spend hundreds of hours working for improvements to the evaluation system only to have a national group - with no particular expertise in education - threaten to undo them. This proposal is way out of step with what is happening in Massachusetts schools today.

Parents and teachers do not disagree on the need for outstanding teachers and schools and we already have a rigorous evaluation system to do that. The Task Force recommended balanced changes to the evaluation system for all educators through a collaborative, deliberative process. I am very proud of the Task Force's work and pleased that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted new regulations for improvement in June of last year, following a public comment period. Districts across the Commonwealth are preparing now for full implementation for the 2013-2014 school year.

I agree with Secretary Reville that we must give these Ed Evaluations a chance to work. There is no need to implement another system before the new one is rolled out. We need to stay the course and not get distracted from the real issues.

Thank you.