Showing posts from 2017

The State's FY18 Budget

We're less than halfway through the Fiscal Year (FY18), and, as I was re-reading MassBudget's FY18 budget analysis, I thought it worth noting a few of their key points.

Early Education: Quality early education and care helps prepare our young children for success in K-12 education and allows them to thrive more generally. Early education and care is also a critical work support for parents with young children, by offering safe and reliable care for kids while parents provide for their families. Funding for early education is -22% since 2001.
K-12 Education: Providing an excellent education to all children in Massachusetts supports future generations in the Commonwealth while contributing to our economy over the long term. Chapter 70 education aid is the main program for delivering state support to local districts across Massachusetts, and ensuring that schools have sufficient resources to provide the necessary services to all students.*The current (FY18) budget increased Chapter…


As a longtime activist and Lexington resident, I announce my candidacy for state representative for the 15th Middlesex District.* We’ve been boldly represented by Jay Kaufman for more than a generation and I heartily thank him for his service. Jay has been an effective leader who has tirelessly stood up for our values. His impact will be felt for many years to come. The causes Jay supported -- and the issues we face in our district and beyond -- still need a courageous leader who isn't afraid to speak up and make change. I will champion: Fair and adequate education funding for each childResponsible energy policy that protects and sustains our environment and natural resourcesImproved healthcare for allSocial justice and equal opportunity for economically disadvantaged, incarcerated, and vulnerable populations regardless of race, gender, religious identity, place of origin, or sexual orientationI’ve been called upon to play a leadership role in key areas. Beginning in 2007, I worked o…

Public Hearing: Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School, Lawrence

At least one member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) attends one public hearing on a pending application for a charter school and reports back to the full BESE. The idea behind the hearings is to provide members of the public an opportunity to voice their opinions on proposed charter schools and to present information for the Department and BESE to consider in deliberations. This year, there were two public hearings -- in Lynn and in Lawrence. (Read this Press Release for more on the process.)

The Phoenix Academy Lawrence (PAL) is an in-district school that the Phoenix Charter Academy Network (PCAN) is contracted to operate. PCAN is proposing to close PAL and open a new, regional  Commonwealth Charter School to be called "Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School, Lawrence" (PAPCHSL). If approved, it would also draw from Haverhill and Methuen Public School systems.

The hearing I attended and presided over was held in the Main Branch of the Lawrence Pu…

Lexington: Join me in voting YES

I'll be voting YES tomorrow (December 4th) in support of a new Fire Station Headquarters,Hastings Elementary School, and Lexington Children's Place preschool. I hope you will join me.
It is well past time to replace the Fire Station Headquarters, built when Harry S. Truman was president (1947). Our modern fire equipment is too heavy for the fire station floor (something akin to the family game, Jenga, provides support under the floor and prevents its collapse). Our first responders need this modern equipment and spaces to train and optimally meet the emergency needs of our community. Dwight D. Eisenhower was president when the Hastings Elementary School was built (1955). Repair is no longer an option. The Town will be reimbursed $16.5 million dollars to replace it, if the debt exclusion vote passes. If we vote no, we jeopardize this reimbursement and also miss the opportunity to expand capacity at the elementary level (by 9 classrooms at this location). It is time to replace. The…

Yes for Lexington

Due to a "a glitch in the system further up the food chain", the letter of support for the Yes for Lexington Campaign signed by former members of the Lexington School Committee didn't make it into last week's Minuteman newspaper. Please remember to vote this Monday, December 4 -- and I hope you will support these projects.

November 19, 2017
To the Editor: As former members of the Lexington School Committee, we have advocated for all children in our public schools. In each decade there are challenges that our town must work through to assure excellent and equitable education. We have seen a steady rise in the student population over the last 6 years. The School Committee has studied capacity at every school to determine gaps, and evaluated short-term and long-term construction solutions.  They also changed the policy on school assignment, allowing the administration to optimize available seats town-wide. Although some in town believe that money can be saved by increasing …

NASBE Town Hall

Jay Barth, NASBE Chair
John Kelly, NASBE Chair-elect
Kris Amundson, NASBE President & CEO

Amundson: 5 Takeaways from the Conference:
1. Our challenge now is to move beyond the state plan; it's about legacy leadership now.
Need to think about those children, epecially with regard to equity.
Children in poverty -- 30Million fewer words; they are two years behind when they come to school -- it is our problem to solve.
Thinking about what Gov. Deal said to us -- in Georgia, education is Pre-K through prison.

2. This is our moment -- the equity moment.
Answers are not going to come from DC, but from you all in the states.
There is no "magic pill".

3. SBEs can't do it alone.
You need tools and allies.
Need better understanding, better assessments.
Like Candice McQueen said: need to "get better at getting better".

4. It is so important that SBEs model civility.
Our work is not partisan.

5. SBEs all have day jobs.
You can't do all this by yourselves.
Reach out to N…

Excellence through Equity

Pedro Noguera, UCLA

Was once an elected local school board member in Berkley CA.
Didn't particularly like it.
Referred to it as "my sentence".
Thought we were only barely managing a "status quo" that didn't work for most kids.
We were cutting budgets all the time.
So, acknowledge how important this is.
Applaud you for your service.
In Colorado, can't fill many seats, can't get people to run for those offices.
That's a problem.
Democracy depends on people running.
I'm going to say some things to shake you up.
I think that's my job.

Need now for equity and deeper learning: making high standards and powerful learning opportunities available to all teachers and students.

Was in Alaska recently -- school leader there, "We do not know how to educate Alaska-native children".
There's a crisis.
High suicide rates.
Kids barely coming to school.

A failure of reform.
We have focused on the wrong things.
Our education policies …

Leading Innovation to Advance Teaching and Learning

Ash Vasudeva, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (Research)
Glen Harvey, WestEd (Policy)
Candice McQueen, Tennessee Commissioner of Education (Practice)
Robert Hull, NASBE (moderator)

How do you think creatively to solve a problem? This session brings together leading experts in reasearch, policy, and practice to consider how state board members can pursue and support innovation. How can improvement science foster a more user- and problem-centered approach to improving teaching and learning? We will explore ways to build state capacity to identify, adapt, and scale up promising innovations.

Collectively, we expand decades of research, practice, and policy-making.
Wisdom in this room, and classrooms -- education systems continue to face extraordinary challenges.
Many times, "what gives" is a rich and rewarding educational experience.
[Missed the name of the person referenced in his example here]: Addressing families at large community foru…

Rethinking Teaching and Learning

Presenters: Linda Darling-Hammond, Learning Policy Institute; Donna Johnson, Delaware State Board of Education

Session takes a deep dive into a rethinking of teaching and learning with leading researcher; covering recent research on professional learning and a systems approach to retooling curriculum and instruction. "Only well-prepared, culturally skilled, committed techers can ensure that all students graduate ready for college and careers".

Darling-Hammond is live-streaming with us online.

D-H: What kind of learning are we talking about?
Demand for skills is changing.
Top skills for Fortune 500 companies in 1970 were Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic; today, they are teamwork, problem-solving, communication skills.
Knowledge is expanding and exponentially.
Working with technology that hasn't been invented yet.
Need to transfer knowledge to new problems.

Teaching for learning ability, the abilities to:
Transfer and apply knowledgeAnalyze, evaluate, weigh, and balanceCommun…

Welcome and Plenary

We're in Atlanta for NASBE's 59th Annual Conference. The Conference theme is Moving Beyond the State Plan: Excellence - Equity - Innovation

Presenters: Kris Amundson, NASBE President and CEO; Jack Griffin, Food-Finder (attending by video); Dr. Meria Carstarphen, Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools; Mike Royal, Georgia Board Chair/Presiding; Jay Barth, NASBE Board Chair
Royal: Welcome. Legislative action for a GA Chief Turnaround Officer, GA/SBE just hired yesterday, NASBE ran the search.
Carstarphen: Welcome to Atlanta. Believes that Education is the cornerstone for our Democracy -- "I have drunk the Kool-Aid". Kids need career skills and decision-making skills and also need to have the heart to be better people than we are to do the work with pride and hope and inspiration and thunder. Important to hear from other Superintendents from beyond your schools for better perspective.
Barth: Thanks members of NASBE Board of Directors. Transformative year, with power shift…

Special Town Meeting (STM) 2017-3 *

Back in Cary Hall tonight to continue with STM 2017-3.
Warrant is HERE.
Motions for STM-3 Articles 1,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,11,13,HERE.
Motions for STM-3 Articles 2,5(revised),10,12, HERE.
Report of the Appropriation Committee (AC), HERE.
Report of the Capital Expenditures Committee (CEC), HERE.
October 16, 2017 Votes of Town Meeting Members (TMM), HERE.
My post for the previous night (STM-2, Monday, October 16) HERE.

Madam Moderator (MM) indicated previously that we'll begin with the following Articles:
Article 2: Amend Zoning Bylaw -- 45-55-65 Hayden AvenueArticle 12: Appropriate Community Preservation Act ProjectsArticle 8: Appropriate Design Funds for Visitors CenterTime permitting: Articles 3 & 4 -- Amend General Bylaws -- Recreational Marijuana Facilities Prohibited & Amend Zoning Bylaw -- Recreational Marijuana MoratoriumTime permitting: any other unfinished STM 2017-3 Articles. Holding Monday, October 30 for a possible 3rd night, if needed.
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Madam Moderator (MM) has called the …