Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Update to BESE on NASBE Legislative Conference

My comments to BESE at yesterday's meeting.

This marked the third NASBE Conference I've attended since last July. Each has been of high quality, with respect to both relevant content and presenters. I hope some others from BESE will consider attending the Annual Conference in Kansas City KS, October 19-22.

In the week before the conference,
Education Week ran a cover story about the urgency of the work of State Boards of Education (SBEs) under new ESEA reauthorization - ESSA.

LegCon was focused on the reauthorization, looking at four key areas: assessments, accountability, effective teachers, and high school turnarounds.

At the Board Meeting Sunday afternoon Indiana SBE member Gordon Hendry shared information about their new law to fund a teacher scholarship program to lead top students into teaching in an effort "to curb persistent teacher shortages".

NASBE Board members and staff joined "the chiefs" at dinner Sunday night, where I met up briefly with the Commissioner, Jessica Leitz (Director of DESE's External Partnerships), and Lauren Green (Assistant Chief of Staff).

During LegCon, NASBE released a new report, Policymaking on Education Data Privacy: Lessons Learned, paired with another report from the Future of Privacy Forum on how data analysis empowers students and schools.

LegCon had 30+ states and territories represented.

  • Executive Director, Kris Amundson addressed attendees about State Board Leadership for all students.
  • Stephan Turnipseed from Destination Imagination, formerly with LEGO Education, gave a keynote on establishing collge and careet expectations (he believes critical thinking is best in hands on, project-based learning programming).
  • Charlotte Danielson talked with us about using your state teacher evaluation system to promote effective teacher practice.
 Panels addressed a range of issues:
  • effective communication with families
  • the federal policy landscape
  • early learning and accountability requirements of ESSA
  • student data privacy (lessons learned and federal implications of it
  • designing your own accountability system and
  • questions SBEs should ask about state assessment systems
There was an enlightening and thought-provoking keynote from Michael Leachman on criminal justice reform and its implications for schools.

The morning of our last day, US Secretary of Education John King spent the better part of 90 minutes talking with us about supporting state leadership to promote educational equity and excellence. 

As I had participated in NASBE's New Member Institute last July I was invited to participate in a "new member focus group" while in DC. The purpose was to facilitate a discussion over the ways in which NASBE could have better-informed new members, whether they attend the Institute or not. NASBE is in the process of revamping materials and access.

NASBE exists to serve and strengthen SBEs in their pursuit of high levels of academic achievement for all students. I'm glad Massachusetts is a member and I am grateful to have attended this conference.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Article 10: Appropriate for Municipal Capital Projects and Equipment

TMod asks Selectmen to move the entire Article (contains 19 sub-parts, a-s

TM will take three votes: on part g; on those parts requiring a simple majority; on those parts requiring a two-thirds majority
Good representation of public to address 10g (traffic lights or not, among other things)

Capital Expenditures Committee member (CEC) asks for separate vote on 10p: parking meters; Selectmen: no objection (simple majority)
So, that will be a fourth vote on Article 10
Total funds requested: $10,348,960 (unofficial)

For a description of the proposed projects see Section XI: Capital Investment section of the FY2017 Town Manager's Preliminary Budget and Financing Plan dated January 11, 2016 and found at 

Selectmen MOVE 10g: Massachusetts Avenue - Three Intersections Improvements and Easements

Board of Selectmen: 3-1 in favor (one Selectman is an abutter and will not vote)

CEC: unanimously in favor

Appropriation Committee (AC): unanimously in favor

Planning Board: unanimously supports

Transportation Advisory Committee: approves this portion

Commission on Disability: is in favor of the signals 

A Selectman, opposed, stands to give "minority report" - cites historical roadway, "this is Lexington"

TMM this is not a question about roundabouts this is about getting $6M to address deteriorating roadways

TMM at YES: the design is not up for a vote tonight; thorough process and public. All have been heard. We are voting on the first funds the Town needs to move the project forward

TMM at NO: We have discussed the design for Mass AV, and I commend the Selectmen for the open process. Implications of all the stop lights.

Citizen: Urges YES vote. Roundabouts make it very difficult to cross roads there.

9 TMMs behind YES mic

TMM Q: I'm confused. Told we were not voting on design.

A: Comprehensive review, peer review; Selectmen voted in January.
TMM: Claims that all of the Historical Commissions, etc support
A: Historical Commissions discussed over a year ago. Have not discussed since. Characterization is true
TMM: I will be voting YES
TMM at NO: Very busy corridor: pedestrian, cars, bikes. Drivers most lethal. (???)
TMM at YESmissed it
Citizen: Loves Lexington, dismayed and alarmed at the number of pedestrian accidents. Lexington has had more accidents than surrounding towns combined. For a high volume street, roundabouts will not improve pedestrian or cyclist safety. Urges support from TM.
TMM Q for Selectmen voting no: Path to signalization?
A: [Peter Kelly] yes
TMM: Even though all of the boards and committees support this?
A: We can do this and do it safely.
TMM: I'm conflicted. If this is only about funding, I'm for it.
TMM Q: When does the 75% design need to be submitted and what happens if we don't meet the deadline?
A: Within the next couple of weeks. MassDOT will make a decision as to whether or not they will keep this project on the list. If forced to compete, there's a v.g. chance this project will be dropped
TMM: so, if we fail to submit on time, we will lose funding, correct?
A: Correct
Citizen: I oppose the article. [Remarks that the Historical Commissions have not rescinded their support] Traffic lights will destroy the historical nature of the Battle Road.
TMM at YES: Misleading comments. "Bucolic Nature of Lexington" - - that bus left long ago. I checked the dictionary for bucolic: "rustic and rural, and sometimes related to shepherds". Ensure the safety of all our citizens. Lexington will always be recognized for its historic contributions
TMM at NO: Just two weeks ago, this TM voted to restrict people's property rights...yet, we are not willing to stand up to preserve the historic character of the Battle Road.
TMM Q: 10g is about intersection improvements. As written, it's for the traffic light proposal. Is it still valid to use that money for roundabouts?
A: If we approve this the project will move forward as currently designed with the traffic lights
TMM: This should be voted to be funded, no matter what.
A: to change the design this late in the process
TMM: I understand the urgency. To use this as a stop gap - - support no matter what.
Citizen: Think about the double lane roundabout at Fresh Pond and of how difficult it is to cross, or ride a bike through. Roundabouts are not safer. Look at safety first. Urges NO
TMM at YES: was motivated by the crashes and accidents involving people and pedestrians to support safer roads. Please support 10g
TMM calls the question
TMod takes voice vote - APPROVED
Final comments from maker of the MOTION
TMod calls for Vote on MOTION
Technical glitch prevents TM from electronic voting
TMod asks Clerk for Roll Call Vote:
Precincts 1&2: majority support
Precincts 3&4: majority support
Precincts 5&6: majority support
Precincts 7, 8, 9: majority support
Town Clerk Tallies the votes
While the glitch was being addressed, TMod asks CEC and AC, TMMs for any questions on other sub-sections of Article 10.
10a will be Indefinitely Postponed (IP'd)

With vote on 10g behind us, TM is still working through other parts of Article 10:

a: IP

b: DPW Equipment

c: Street Improvements & Easements

d: Storm Drainage Improvements and NPDES Compliance

e: Hydrant Replacement Program

f: Comprehensive Watershed Storm Water Management Implementation

g: APPROVED by Roll Call Vote

h: Sidewalk Improvements, Additions, Designs, and Easements

i: Town-wide Culvert Replacement

j: Town-wide Signalization Improvements

k: Cary Memorial Library Walkway Replacement

l: Pleasant Street Sidewalk and Easements

m: Replace Town-wide Phone Systems - Phase V

n: Head End Equipment Replacement/Packet Shaper - Phase V

o: Election System Upgrade


q: Transportation Mitigation

r: Ladder Truck Replacement and

s: Public Safety Radio Stabilization

Simple majority required for Article 10 parts a, e, j, m, n, o, s: APPROVED

Two-thirds majority required for Article 10 parts b, c, d, f, h, i, j, k, l, q, r: APPROVED

Adjourned 10:30 PM (unofficial)

Special Town Meeting-2

TMod calls STM-2 back into order

Selectmen move to adjourn STM-2 until Monday, May 9, 7:30 PM

MOTION PASSES by voice vote

STM is adjourned until Monday, May 9

Article 43: Banking & Real Estate Service

Meeting called to order
Sound checking the new sound system
Attendance tonight (now): 140/198
Town Moderator (TMod) calls a brief recess so that Town Meeting Members' Association (TMMA) can make a few announcements
Three TMMs are acknowledged for
their service to the Town as elected representatives for 30 yrs or more: Janet Perry, Shirley Stoltz, and Ed Grant. Each receives a certificate and Seal of Lexington pin.
Meeting is back in session
Meeting is open on Article 2: Reports of Boards and Committees
Richard Canale for the Planning Board: Moves amended Article 43; TM approves
Meeting is now open on Article 43: Banking & Real Estate Service. This article would delete the sections of the bylaw related to the banking moratorium established by the 2015 Annual Town Meeting while proposing a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to establish, move, or expand banking and real estate service business in center storefronts in the Center Business (CB) District.
Seven criteria for the ZBA to look at to make findings before issuing a permit for [another] bank in the CB. Criteria have to do with where they're located [proposed] - - several banks are clustered together right now, by right. A special permit with very specific and stringent criteria.
Planning Board: unanimously supports this article
Board of Selectmen: unanimously supports
Lexington Center Committee: wholeheartedly supports
TMM Q: Concerned by criteria c - "undue concentration"
A: The ZBA would need to take a look at the proposed use of the streetscape and see what effect it will have on the CB vibrancy
TMM: on g: "adjacent to the storefront"
A: Gives us the best chance to "strengthen"
TMM: I find this confusing and will offer an amendment
TMM Q: One of the criteria the use will not be used for office or conference space - not typical for banks...
A: Please clarify
TMM: Do you really mean that it will not contain those things?
A: The bank will have all of those things inside, ZBA needs to look to make sure that storage (e.g.) will not be in the front windows
TMM Q: Does the ZBA feel these are sufficient guidelines?
A: [Chair of ZBA, Jeanne Kreiger] ZBA has not taken a position on this article; Chair feels the criteria is sufficient
Amendment is offered by TMM to change "the area adjacent to the storefront" to "the interior area of the property adjacent to the storefront"
Planning Board already looked at this language and didn't feel that it helped. We do not support changing the language at this time.
Board of Selectmen: agrees with Planning Board that this is not a necessary amendment
TMod looking for statements, questions to amend:
TMM Q: Is that amendment specific enough?
A: add a subsection - - 2g, gg (e.g.)
Appropriation Committee (AC) asks Town Counsel if the amendment clarifies
Town Counsel thinks this amendment clarifies
TMod calls for a Vote to AMEND
Back to debate on the MOTION as AMENDED
TMM Q: Office Space or meeting with a customer?
A: That would be determined by the ZBA as to a specific proposal
TMM calls Question [to end debate]
The Ayes have it
Vote on the MOTION as AMENDED (requires 2/3 majority)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Town Meeting Tonight: Article 34 - Assault Weapons and Guns

Meeting in Margery Milne Battin Hall, Isaac Cary Memorial Building, 1605 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington MA
This is the sixth meeting of the 2016 Annual Town Meeting
Article 34: Assault Weapons & Guns
Resolution is offered by Town Meeting Member (TMM) Robert Rothberg:
RESOLVED that Town Meeting requests the Board of Selectmen to inform the Great and General Court of its concern that existing Massachusetts laws regarding assault weapons (M.G.L. c. 140, § 131M) may not sufficiently protect citizens of the Commonwealth, and Lexington. Town Meeting asks the Selectmen to initiate a town-wide discussion about assault weapons and gun violence that would lead to fully considered proposals (to be conveyed to the Great and General Court) for a strengthening of those laws.
Town Moderator (TMod) calls 6th session to order, introduces herself, and welcomes the many visitors in the balcony tonight - the hall seats 800+ and is quite full
Tonight's vote will be on a non-binding resolution
Electronic attendance indicates a quorum: 153 TMMs present out of 198 total members

Mr. Robert Rothberg moves the motion that would:
  • have the Board of Selectmen appoint a committee to study assault weapons and guns and report back to the Town Meeting at next year's Annual Town Meeting (ATM)
  • Massachusetts has strong laws, but not the strongest
  • The Commonwealth's laws difficult to enforce
  • AG Healy: gun violence is a public health issue; suicide is 5x greater when gun in the home
Mr Rothberg concludes, asks TM for support

Board of Selectmen has not taken a formal vote, though two are opposed, two are supportive, and one is undecided until hearing floor debate on the issue

Town Mod opens the floor for debate at Yes, No, Question, and Citizen microphones
TMM at YES: Some say TM should limit their deliberations to financial, zoning, and leave issues outside of Town borders alone. This is our concern. All statutes and regulations should be subject to our review.
TMM at NO: I do not own a gun. 23 months in Viet Nam taught me about guns. Had to walk through a metal detector to a public meeting. I'm able to shop, go to restaurants, and to usually go to meetings without a metal detector.
6 people standing behind YES mic
Public/Citizen's mic: I'm a resident and, apparently, a minority on this issue. Disagreed with the initial MOTION and disagree with the present RESOLUTION. Thinks "...a town-wide discussion... 'may' lead to proposals...for a strengthening of those laws."
TMM Q: I'm not a gun proponent, don't own a gun. Reading that assault rifles fire 600-900 bullets a minute. Under MA law can't have more than 10 bullets in a magazine - please explain
Mr. Rothberg asks Town Moderator to acknowledge Mr. Barry; she does
A: I'm not an expert in these weapons, I only license these for the Town
TMM: Am I understanding correctly that one pull of the trigger will fire more than one bullet?
A: Not sure
TMM/Selectman at YES: The resolution is inconvenient and comes at a time when the Town is grappling with many issues. The many letters, emails, phone calls has received speaks to the need for a discussion.
Citizen mic: Resident, former TMM. Doesn't think a Town-wide discussion is warranted.
TMM Q: Whether this MOTION passes or not, will the League of Women Voters of Lexington address this in a Community Conversation
A from LWVL: Yes and what a community can usefully do
TMM: WOuld this be agreeable to you
A from Mr.R: Yes
TMM: Yes, No, and Abstain are blunt tools. I hope people will take part in discussion, in light of current conversations. I will vote NO
TMM at YES: Recognize the seriousness of the issue and talk about it. Understand that many of those here were very unhappy with the RESOLUTION and want to start over. Let us say, "Less gun violence and more conversation." The Point is we need to do more.
Citizen: Want to know why TMMs would object. I look to this august body to look at the differences and move forward. Sense of safety and security for our children, and for respect for what happened on the [Battle] Green to ensure our security.
TMM Q: Introductory Q - do we have fewer TMMs tonight?
TMod: NO
TMM Main Q is - can we take a secret ballot?
TMod: NO - TMMs were elected through a public process and those votes are part of the public record.
TMM at YES: I applaud the impulsiveness of the maker of this MOTION
TMM at NO: Massachusetts has the most comprehensive gun control laws. Not arguing with statistics and facts - they're horrible. I'd like to see our community to come together with LWVL to discuss all issues; we don't need a resolution
Sargeant from Hanscom AFB: [in answer to previous Q about whether or not one pull of the trigger can shoot more than one bullet] No a semi-automatic weapon cannot fire more than one bullet. I have spent last 9 years of my life in the Army. April 19, 1775 - men laid down their lives. We don't have a gun problem we have a heart problem. We need to address mental health, not guns.
Citizen: Resident. We are not criminals and not a danger to the community. Guns don't kill people, people kill people.
TMM Q: Did Mr. R intend for the Town-wide convo to be limited to guns?
A: I was hoping to keep my MOTION within the scope of Article 34; would welcome other issues to be addressed.
TMM at YES: I studied this quite a lot. Looked at the Constitution for guidance. I think the framers had Muskets in mind, not semiautomatic weapons in mind.
Citizen: My first time to TM since moving here in 1986. Heartily hope we will pass this resolution. Reasonable regulations of guns is constitutional.
TMM Q: Scope on assault weapons in handout?
A: All of them
Q: Selectmen or LWVL?
A: Selectmen haven't taken this up
TMM at YES: Nitpicking on "should" to "could".
Citizen: Resident. First time to Town Meeting. This is literally "cart before the horse". Unfair to gun owners.
TMM Q: I don't own a gun. Has Mr. R given thought to the message we are sending to neighboring towns?
A: Lexington is the center of the universe. Towns will do what we do if we do it well. [Town of] Lincoln has already had the discussion at their TM and has passed.
TMM Q: What about violence that emanates from neighboring towns?
A: We can have a convo about what goes into decisions in Lexington
TMM at YES: I'm glad we are discussing this. This is a function of Town Meeting.
TMM Q: For Police Chief - laws that ban, how many weapons have the Lexington Police confiscated?
A: Zero
TMM: Follow up - how many gun-related killings do we know of from some reasonable period in the past?
A: Killings by another individuals - zero; suicides
TMM: how many recently?
A: last 5 years - best estimate=3
TMM: I plan to vote NO
Citizen: Laws enacted in 1994 did not address assault weapons. MA is one of 7 states that banned assault weapons. It is far more important to ensure all provisions of MA law are funded and supported.
TMM at NO: Initially wanted to offer an amendment but withdrew because this MOTION is solely focused on assault weapons.
TMM Q: Is this a correct reference to MGL?
A from Town Counsel: There are a number of sections that reference. I don't have it in front of me
TMM: I don't see how we can vote on this.
A from TMod: since this is non-binding vote, the exact reference is of little consequence, so long as it is in there somewhere

>Citizen: Please vote NO.

>TMM Q: Does the Chief of Police have an opinion? Has the LPD taken a position?
A from Chief: My personal opinions are for myself not my position. I addressed my opinion at public meeting of Selectmen; suggested changing from Bylaw to RESOLUTION
TMM at YES: Is a physician. Sees lots of injuries. Has to report patterns in types of injuries. Address mental health, yes, but if we are to have a discussion about this, let it begin here.
TMM at NO: Need broader discussion.
TMM at YES: thanks TMMs for their service. Applauds Mr. R for bringing this RESOLUTION forward. Come with open minds.
TMM Q: If this were to pass tonight, what would the process be?
A Selectmen Chair: hasn't discussed. Expectation is that we would find a way to discuss as requested
TMM Follow up: Can we hear thoughts from other Selectmen?
TMM/Selectman: I voted NO. My feeling is that discussion through LWVL. RESOLUTION is on ground I'm not comfortable with.
Another Selectman: I also voted NO. Feel there are flaws. The convo tonight is robust but doesn't hear from all our neighbors and it needs to.
Another Selectmen who wanted to wait to hear TMM discussion tonight: I have talked with Mr.Rothberg. I am very much in favor of having a Town-wide discussion about this whole issue. Does not feel it is up to the Selectmen to set up a committee, subject to postings, what-not. Leaning toward YES.
Citizen: From Lowell. Thank you for letting me speak to your TM. Even as a young student in Lowell I always appreciated our regions's role in American History. We are facing the same over-reach in Lowell. Please vote NO.
TMM at YES: Whatever the outcome
Two TMMs at NO
Three TMMs at YES
10 Citizens
MOTION to close debate
VOTE on MOTION on non-binding RESOLUTION
TM adjourns 9:34 (unofficial)

"Some Relevant Numbers and Facts" - distributed to TMMs by Mr. Robert Rothberg:
  • From 2005 to 2014, 310,000 Americans lost their lives in or near their homes from gun violence. During the same period 229 Americans were killed by terrorists
  • Since Sandy Hook in 2012, more than 106,000 Americans have lost their lives from gun violence
  • In 2015, there were 13,000 gun killings
  • In 2015, there were 330 mass shootings
  • This year, already, there have been nearly 3,000 gun killings
  • So far in 2016, there have been nearly 56 mass shootings, involving 4 or more people
  • Each day 88 Americans are killed by guns
  • 1 in every 3 people in the US knows someone who has been shot
  • Nearly 2,000 children are killed each year by guns in the US, and 9,000 children injured
  • 7 children and teens are killed every day of every year by guns
  • More than 342,000 Massachusetts residents own one or more firearms
  • The US ranks number 1 in the world in gun ownership, followed by the Yemen
  • The US homicide rate from firearms is 20 times higher than the combined rates of twenty-two countries with similar wealth and population
  • There are 270 million guns in the US, the equivalent of 88.9 guns per 100 Americans
  • Assault rifles are the weapon of choice for mass shooters because of their high, rapid rate of fire
  • An assault weapon is a semiautomatic rifle with a detachable magazine and a pistol grip, a folding stock, a grenade launcher, a flash suppressor, and/or a bayonet lug
  • Assault rifles fire 600-900 bullets a minute
  • When the Federal government had a law (1994-2004) against assault weapons, it managed to remove military-style weapons from the nation's streets. After the ban expired, mass violence escalated
  • A Justice Department study of the Federal assault weapons ban found that it was responsible for a 6.7% decrease in total gun murders, holding all others factors equal.
  • The same study also found that "Assault weapons are disproportionately involved in murders with multiple victims, multiple woulds per victim, and police officers as victims."
  • The use of assault weapons in crime declined by more than two-thirds about nine years after the US 1994 Assault Weapons Ban took effect.
  • When Connecticut toughened its laws recently, assault killings went down. When Missouri axed its similar laws, killings went up.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

ED Secretary John King talks with NASBE

Tuesday morning, last day of the NASBE Legislative Conference. US Secretary of Education, John King has come to meet with NASBE members, first with an address, then to sit with Jim McNiece (NASBE President) for a conversation, followed by a Q&A.
The Secretary thanks Jim for his years  as educator and state board member (Kansas)
Thanks Kris [Amundson, NASBE Executive Director] for her leadership and strong voice for NASBE
Lots to celebrate in US: highest grad rate; fewer drop outs
More students accessing HQ preK
Most diverse class just graduating from college
ESSA presents an opportunity to redefine what excellent education means
We know there is much more that we want from a well-rounded education, for people prepared to engage in civic discourse, including science, soc studies, arts, SEL
Opps to define what excellent schooling means; talk to people you know in neighborhoods, states
Move away from one size interventions of NCLB
NCLB interventions didn't match specific challenges - there are new opps with ESSA            
ELLS: opp to focus on PD for teachers, recruit teacher leaders with experience with ELLs; opp to be more strategic
Leverage this law for Excellence
Want to partner with states in this work
Regs on ESSA by late fall so states can launch
He is encouraged that many states have already jumped in to reach out to diverse stakeholders: civil rights, early ed, higher ed, parents, struggling schools
Focus on excellence & equity
Will these initial efforts help or distract?
Goal is equity, to close achievement gaps
AP classes, IB, Dual enrollment
Rigorous evaluations
Integrate within ESSA to build on previous work
Start with ELLs, homeless students, foster students and build from there
Jim McNiece: How do you see your role in terms of helping states?
John King:  Three thoughts: 1.) Regs help to create a framework, prioritize 2.) tech assistance and guidance to states 3. bully pulpit is IMP - call attention to students at risk, getting a well-rounded education; acknowledge narrowed curriculum; wants to use his role to lift up teachers
JMc: We're not going to work with "you" - how do we work with the Dept? How is ED going to change to specifically work with state boards?
JK: lots of enthusiasm about this shift (state as customer); less about silos and grant-funding
JMc: Reality of Opt Out and 95%?
JK: ESSA commitment to student progress, 95%. Controversy around assessments about too much testing. one Q: are there too many? Redundant? Looked at this in NY - - 4 diff reading assessments as more and more leaders added favorites. Are there places where a district is using a low-level multiple choice could be replaced by a science experiment? ESSA allows a reset on this - so that we're not staling from instructional time
JMc: Parents have gotten into the discussion about Quality Assessments, the scores, and how they should be used?
JK: We've got to make the assessments better. To demonstrate problem solving skills; tech can help; tech is a challenge, too. How to shorten the time to get results back? Results are one measure. Should inform evaluation, along with judgments from Supts about leadership.
JMc: Technology. It's a huge issue in the buildings. Can we provide the bandwith? Requires a great deal of infra and support. Can the Dept provide supports? How?
JK: ConnectED, FCC has helped. Opp with ESSA for Title IV - technology to support instruction. Technology for instruction, not assessment. President proposing doubling Title IV
JMc: Teacher evaluation. Huge when it was tied into NCLB. Moving now that evals do not have to include assessments. how to move to E&E?
JK: Very strong consensus on first principles. If it feels like "gotcha", won't work. Has to provide support for practice. Observers must be well-trained. Student learning should be a factor in how we evaluate - - create time and space to make meaningful evals. Must be a collaborative process at the local level.
JMc: How can we help you?
JK: 1.) you all have to be the champs for equity - state boards must be the ones asking how do we ensure high learning no matter the zip code. Lots of kids have gotten less. State boards have to lead. How do all kids get access. 2.) State boards must have big picture across sectors (early ed, K-12, higher ed, CTE). Must be in convos for communication and alignment. Connect with local districts. 3.) We need your voice to convey to us what you need. Where are the rules getting in the way?
JMc: State boards on the front line & local boards are in the trenches...takes Qs from the audience
NE/SBE member: Looking forward to this partnership. Early ed: how do we continue the focus to build capacity for Kindergarten, and how to engage states to connect within ESSA?
JK: A piece of RTTT, Lessons learned in that grant. PreK dev grant expanded access in 18 states. Want to add more states. ROI is high. Opp here. Over 30 states have increased their investment in early ed. Importance of local & state leadership early ed, prek, first & second grade to create enriched learning. How to do preK to prepare kids preK-2. In too many places, preK Ts need to communicate.
MI/SBE member: More about wrap around - - also, being from MI, Flint is front and center about addressing issues that impact health of our kids.
JK: We should be ashamed about what has happened in Flint. It's very hard to explain to my kids [9 & 12 y.o] what happened and why. I think it is a reflection that as a country we have been inattentive to infrastructure. We have to do better. The Edu impact, sadly, is lead poisoning. We want to work with MI. What is happening in Detroit is also a fundamental issue. Impact of a mindset where we value some kids more than we do others. Invest in education the way we would with our own kids. More access to food to children in summer, we're working to expand access.
Missed SBE member: Mindset. ED has a culture and mindset with NCLB. ESSA to change that mindset. Dept is clawing back authority through rulemaking. How do you view change in the Dept?
JK: On standards. ESSA is v clear: they are up to states and they have to be high to ensure college and career. State developed and adopted standards for CCR. ESSA creates space for more state l'ship on defining how resources are used. IMP role for states. ESSA protects civil rights. Prior to NCLB, we were underattending to some students. ED has the responsibility to attend in these matters. Will have to strike the right balance
WA/SBE member: Stakeholder engagement in dev of the plans. We at state level know how long that takes. Can you give us assurances that the time will not be cut short?
JK: Regs finalized by late fall, so states can have til spring and summer of 2017 to submit plans, implement in fall 2017. There may be things states want to do, ultimately, but perhaps not ready to do that by fall 2017 - - may wish to commit, but set implementation for 2019...staged implementation strategy and feedback loops.
DC/SBE member: HS grad rate. How to ensure kids are ready for college and career? Balance remediation?
JK: Important Q. Remediation in some states happens in grade 12. Dual enrollment opps. AP, IB classes opps to engage in college work in HS. CTE has to be re-thought. Opps for advancement. Smart partnerships that prepare kids for high value careers. How to improve, invest in tech ed. We need to be vigilant.
RI/SBE member: Cost of education. Crushing college debt. Your thoughts on where we are going WRT affordability in public & private?
JK: Many students start college and don't finish. They don't have the degree so they can't get the job. We're focusing on completion. PELL dollars. Incentive for students to take 15 credits or more/semester. Focuses students on graduating and focuses colleges on track to graduation. There is a cost and that is very hard to get our arms around. Some of the more elite institutions: decisions to invest in buildings, competitive. Needs consumer demand to shift demand:
JMc: Last word. What message do you have for state board members?
JK: Give us feedback, input. Right framework for your work in states. Schools, literally, save lives. Lost both my parents when young. School was my life. Bring that level of urgency to everything we do: school saves lives. Thank you.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Notes from Charlotte Danielson

Using Your State Teacher Evaluation System to Promote Teaching and Learning

"Oprah Set-up" Conversation between Kris Amundson and Charlotte Danielson

Kris Amundson: You've observed that ESSA creates opportunity. Please say more about that.

Charlotte Danielson: We know that the quality of the teacher impacts learning tremendously. Common notion is that if there's a challenge with learning, must be "the teacher" (this is not lost on teachers...) and it isn't a very realistic way of thinking about quality. Evaluation is "quality assurance" (using public dollars, need for accountability). There are state laws around improving teacher has been focused on the 5-6% of teachers that need improvement. Most eval systems are for those 5-6%, and not for the 94%. We have to move the curve (on teacher effectiveness) so that the "results" are focused on teacher practice. What is the VISION. Teachers need to be able to teach in a way that promotes creativity. Also grounded in the view in the sense that Teaching is cognitive work (also exhausting physical work and demanding emotional work).

KA: Talking about moving the curve. Moving the curve is intellectual work and policy work. Let's talk about the policy work. What are the conditions WRT preparation, staffing, and time - what does all of that need to look like? SBEs don't hire principals, but create conditions under which that happens. What are the policy decisions here?

CD: How can you make even high stakes evals work? Cites Ohio's approach, involving mentorship, and Tier 2 certification process: after 3 years, teachers submit a portfolio, are assessed by trained assessors, receive a certificate and they are allowed to continue. Ohio created a state-wide standard. District evals are not very effective for tenure. Never overlook the power of good assessment to influence teacher practice.

KA: OK, so licensure is one policy lever. Talk about what goes into being one of those evaluators.

CD: Consistency. Accuracy. Accuracy is the key. Illinois adopted [Danielson] framework and required every Principal to pass the test - eventually they all did. By demanding that, more than anything else (more than policy), it increased the confidence of teacher unions in the system. Most teacher eval systems are at the district level - tenure decision is the critical one. (REferences an integrated HR System for Teacher Quality and Professional Learning). Learning is done by the learner - it's a cognitive process. Teachers need to design engaging learning for kids (make learning fun!). I've never known an intellectually lazy 4 year old; I've known many intellectually lazy 14 year olds. I would hate to think that we are switching off the lights [for kids as they get older]. How often have we heard kids say that school is "boring". We need the best and the brightest going into this work.

KA: Indiana has just passed new law, offers best & brightest high school kids to go into the teaching profession. Shows opportunity of SBEs to collaborate with State Legislators. You've talked about teacher prep. SBEs can say: these are skills, dispositions, and knowledge teachers need. How to rethink teacher prep?

CD: There's a lot of thinking that we need to get kids in the classroom sooner, I see the value of some of that, and don't necessarily disagree - - but, there's so much to know about children and their learning. Really understanding intellectual development is so important. Children are children and they're exploring and their minds are expanding. Development of abstract thinking is absolutely critical for kids as they get older. We've put a lot of eggs in the basket of Principal evaluation - - but, it's a medical model and unlikely to generate solutions to problems of practice. Schools & districts have protected PD time and also have to be sure it isn't squandered. Teachers need purpose and have access to the structures they need. Many are using teacher leadership roles to strengthen teacher practice (teachers leaders need skills in facilitation, working with adults).

KA: Very productive, collaborative work potential. SBEs Professional Learning: it's a laugh line for many, because it's a "show and tell" and not related to what they're learning. SBEs do a good job to certify X number of hours of PD, but nothing about the quality of those hours. How to translate that info into policy to promote the highest level?

CD: Let's add one thing - the amount of money spent on teacher PD is extraordinary. "Going to things" is not productive learning. Collaborative learning isn't free, but cannot be as expensive as what passes for PD now. I'd love to hear some ideas.

KA: Let's open this up for productive convo. What are the questions we need to ask? of Charlotte? of Each other?


Q: Nebraska SBE member - For those of us who are retired educators, how do we think about transformation through systems that get to the heart that "learning is more than a test score"? Re-engage educators because of narrowing of curriculum? More about the "art" of education, as opposed to the last 15 yrs which have been the "science" of education.

A: I fear that some teachers that have been trained recently, it's more of a technical work and I think it's taken some of the heart out of it. Many have forgotten that these are children. They have their lives [to live, grow, and learn]. Making connections to each student is at the heart of teaching. The heart is in engagement in learning. Astonished that we do not have a very good understanding of what engagement is.

Q: Georgia SBE member - we looked at PD very closely; what we found was very disturbing to us. Teachers were going to large conferences, signing in, but we had no back up other than that. We were spending $50M a year on this PD and didn't know what we were getting for it. Had to make a change. We've been looking at best practices, at what successful districts are doing.

Missed a couple - in line for Q&A

Q: Family engagement in Teacher prep programs?

A: Teachers can learn from families about the child.

Notes from Keynote: Stephan Turnipseed

Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Destination Imagination & Board Member and Former Chair, Partnership for 21st Century Learning

KNOWLEDGE: making sense out of the world (NOT acquisition); how to understand experiences; HOW you learn, not WHAT you learn

SKILLS: 4Cs...creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, collaboration
Creativity: what is new, valuable, and unique (we're
born with it, need to try not to lose it); keeping kids creative (from imagination to innovation at DI...point is you need to foster creativity for kids in schools...

Critical thinking & problem solving: the 4 seasons...DOVE, DEER, DUCK, TURKEY; one of the best ways to do that is through PBL; make a rectangle

Collaboration: Heart of collaboration is respect; Mind of collaboration is sharing; recognize what can be accomplished, doesn't matter who gets the credit; how do we as a nation, an economy, how do we foster those ideas

Communicate: a uniquely human thing; Two ears, one mouth - - listen 2x as much as talk - - >this is where we are now; can't allow tech to supplant that which makes us human  -> our ability to communicate human to human

"When educating the minds of our youth we must not forget to educate their hearts." ~ Dalai Lama

Our culture will be held in our hearts.

Schools are a small crucible of our democracy; all means all

Competency-based learning: What if everyone had an IEP? Need for partnerships outside of schools.

Ultimately, we must NOT fail to reach every child so they thrive.

Notes from "Supporting State Board Leadership for all Students"

Kris Amundson, NASBE Executive Director

Life under ESSA

"With great power comes great responsibility" ~ Spiderman movie

"Be careful what you wish for..." ~ Kris' mom

ESSA: Accountability, Assessments, Turnarounds, Teachers

Under NCLB was largely based on the single summative test, Key requirements: disaggregated by school, by sub group

New legislation:
  • set long-term goals
  • Each state targets sets its own goals
  • Feds are not in any way halting its commitment for all kids, but is now saying that it's up to states to make it happen
In Virginia, SBE wants to know what content knowledge, community engagement, work experience, they want for students - ->then develop their accountability system

What do people [in MA] value?
What's important?
How can we use that accountability system to move kids THERE? - ->THEN, develop metrics. DON'T RUSH.

You can make change fast - or you can make change last

ESSA was a compromise bill
Every kid, every year, by subgroup - - IMP for civil rights groups
Summative tests are but one part of assessment system
SBE has the opp to shape that system

Who has the authority over state assessments: in 37 states, it's the SBE; in 45 states SBE sets standards

Opt out - suggests SAT is already developed and parents haven't opted their kids out of that test
  • Eliminate duplicative testing
  • Computer adaptive tests
  • Could institute a cap limiting time on tests - - some of the best assessments are what involve kids in doing things

ESSA has established a pilot program in 7 states for complete revamping of assessments: NH has been at it for 5 years; it's long and arduous work (they are no where near done); hold the line firmly on equity and rigor; state does not believe their criteria is rigorous enough

Suggests NASBE here to help all SBEs

If we're honest, we know there are a small number of schools that need help  to turn around on drop-outs, underachieving

Under ESSA: you still have to intervene for bottom 5%, drop outs, under-achieving...

ESSA says you have to work with districts then monitor what's going on

Create a schedule, create a plan, set aside $$

Think about the skills those schools , T, Principals will need

ESSA will allow states to play a much greater role in
HQ entrance and Evidence-based PD
Elimination of "HQT" requirement - now, what makes a really, really good teacher...?

Think actively: the arts (real actors, dancers, musicians); and CTE

Reaffirm publicly to take advantage of everything under ESSA for equity & excellence

Power of Coalitions (for states) - NASBE replicating collaborative initiatives

Listening tour in KS: "Kansas Can" - convened public hearings across the state; resulted in creating a VISION for schools & kids; coalition included Teachers Union, Chamber of Commerce, & Governor

Sunday, April 3, 2016

NASBE Board of Directors Meeting

Tweeting and trying out live-blogging from a meeting room at The Liaison Capitol Hill, Washington DC

NASBE Sr. New Member Representative, Gordon Hendry shares new Indiana Law granting scholarship to Hoosier Educators: HB 1002

President Jim McNiece stuck somewhere over Kentucky ... unable to attend today ... Jay Barth (pres-elect NASBE, Arkansas SBE) chairing the meeting
  • Combo of things from January when the meeting was snowed out followed by NASBE Regular business meeting
Immediate past president, Mary Lord provides engaging history of NASBE
  • NASBE recommitted to equity for all
Scott Johnson, Treasurer, NASBE Board, updating on financials
  • NASBE exists to serve and strengthen State Boards of Education (SBEs) in their pursuit of high levels of academic achievement for all students (from Scott, also NASBE mission statement)
Overview of NASBE's work - presentation of programs and services from Robert Hull
  • NASBE's focus is on delivering Equity & Excellence:
    • What edu systems do (currently): CCR standards, CCR data base, Deeper Learning, ECE, NGSS, CTE, ESSA
    • Where they take place and under what conditions: school climate & discipline, nutrition & physical activity, health database, epinephrine
    • Who is responsible: Board L'ship dev, study group - CPRE, Teacher  Profiles, Early Learning workforce, Strategic Planning, Chief Evaluatoions, (missed a couple others here)
How this work happens is the work of local School Committees (Boards), local control!

Rebee Tybak Lang, Communications Director, on NASBE Communications
  • Collective power of SBE voice
  • Wants to share SBE stories
  • Case studies, information, in all of the work each SBE is doing
    • NASBE wants help to mobilize the "state board voice" - more authentic when members speak, tweet, write
    • I.D spokesmen - who can speak for NASBE on issues - - testify, social media, national voice
    • New education reporter at EdWeek - cites recent in-depth article in EdWeek

Valerie Norville, Editorial Director, on Publications: The Standard (magazine, in-depth), Policy Updates (short, one-pagers), State Innovations (case studies from states).

Board meeting concludes - we break into Staff/Executive Committee and Staff/Regional Area Directors' meetings

PDM's Issues Conference

I was part of the team that organized Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts' Issues Conference on March 19. The event featured two plenary sessions - one on Climate Change and the other on Funding Public Education.

  • Joining for Climate Change were Representative Paul Mark (2nd Berkshire), Joel Wool (Clean Water Action & Mass Power Forward), and Cathy Buckley (Massachusetts Sierra Club)
  • The session on Funding Public Education featured Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (2nd Suffolk), Superintendent Dr. Mary Bourque (Chelsea PUblic Schools), Tracy Novick (blogger, Field Director MASC), Colin Jones (Policy Analyst, MassBudget), and Kevin Murray (Executive Director, The Program for Human Rights and the Global Economy)

In between the two sessions, we had an "issues speed dating" segment. Nine presenters, each hosted three 15-minute quick takes on 9 issues: Eric Shupin on Affordable Housing, Mark Breslow on Carbon Pricing, Lew Finfer on Worker's Rights, Josh Beardsley on Criminal Justice/Prison Reform, Kade Crockford on Electronic Privacy, Mason Dunn on Transgender Rights, Jordan Berg-Powers on Key Upcoming Legislative Issues, and Tracy Novick on Social Media for Advocacy.

Here's the storify of the event.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Transgender Rights

Below,, my letter  sent to Governor Baker, copying Lexington's legislators. The letter was sent via the contact form offered on
Governor Charles D. Baker IV, Office of the Governor, Room 280, Boston 02133
April 1, 2016
Governor Baker,
Only recently did I learn about the Transgender Rights Bill (SB 735/HB 1577).
I was astonished to learn that under current Massachusetts law, there are not explicit protections (protections you and I probably take for granted) ensuring that transgender people can’t be turned away from a hotel, or denied service at a restaurant, simply because of who they are.
I also learned that our Commonwealth is behind in this regard, as 18 other states plus Washington DC have already passed similar legislation: CA - CO - CT - DC - DE - HI - IA - IL - ME - MD - MN - NJ - NM - NV - NY - OR - RI - VT & WA!
Massachusetts has always shone like a beacon in supporting equal rights and this is not the time to diminish our radiance.
The bill is stalled in the Joint Judiciary Committee and hasn’t been reported out from either House or Senate, yet there is a veto-proof majority in both.
Furthermore, though the Speaker has confirmed he has the votes to pass the House bill, many legislators there are lacking the courage to speak out publicly with their support for the bill unless they know that their Governor will support them.
It’s past time for transgender people to be treated fairly and equally in our Commonwealth. As your constituent, I urge you to provide the leadership that is necessary to speak out in support of transgender rights and commit to signing it into law.
Thank you for your consideration and for all you do.
CC: Representative Jay Kaufman, Senator Ken Donnelly, Senator Mike Barrett