Showing posts from January, 2018

Charter School Redux

We're nearing the end of "charter school season" and await the recommendations of the Acting Commissioner to see if any are advanced to the Board for approval later this month.

Some criticize charter schools for not educating all children, those with special needs or who are English language learners, in particular. Others say that charters and core public schools shouldn't be compared because the rules are different. Still others say the problem is with how charters are funded.

But if you go back to the original law (and it's been amended several times since enacted) one thing is clear: Where core public schools have always been about taking in and educating all children, charter schools never were -- and that was supposed to provide their edge.

"Labs of innovation" meant that they were not going to take everyone on purpose. Instead, they would take a small number of students so that they could try something new and different from what was offered in the …

A personal connection with the arts

My parents were musicians.

Mom was a concert pianist and organist. One of her gifts was that she could read any piece of music put in front of her. She loved playing Debussy, Schumann, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Bach, and Franck. She was frequently called upon to accompany vocalists and instrumentalists for upcoming recitals and auditions.

Dad was a sax, clarinet, and boom-chick piano-player who played in a dance band in high school, gigging on weekends with pals from his small town school. One of his gifts was that he could play anything by ear. He played at the piano during down time, weekends mostly, after he had finished chores with my younger brothers in tow. He enjoyed writing original vocal and instrumental compositions, including vocal arrangements for his barber shoppe quartet and for the religious in the convent on the far side of the fairgrounds in the small rural coal-mining town in Pennsylvania where we lived until I was ten.
I grew up in a time when arts education was the pri…

Economy in the Commonwealth

Reports on public transportation (specifically, the breakdown of public transit), appear in local and regional news on a regular basis. Most people see economic growth as the number one reason to invest in our transportation system. A comprehensive public transit system for all communities would include improvements to our existing transit infrastructure, as well as expanding smart, transit-oriented development that's affordable.

Transportation infrastructure isn't just about economic growth, it also overlaps with our affordable housing, education, climate change, and energy goals and we should seek to adopt the holistic model of "complete streets" when considering what those community goals should be.

Employers argue that a strong economy doesn't exist without a strong workforce and see investment in vocational technical education as a key to keeping the Commonwealth competitive.

We need an energy infrastructure that reduces pollution, promotes clean energy, red…