Citizen Group Welcomes Dr. Peg Luksik to Shrewsbury on September 17th
SHREWSBURY, MA - Massachusetts parents, grandparents, activists as well as former and current educators recently formed Common Core Forum (CCF) - a grassroots organization dedicated to enlightening the public about the proposed Common Core States Standards, usually referred to as Common Core (CC). Common Core Forum is a statewide all-volunteer, non-partisan group that does not accept donations.
Donna Colorio, founder of the Common Core Forum, and former Worcester School Committee member explains, "CCF's goal is to educate parents, school committees, school administrators and legislators." She continued, "Consensus is growing that implementing Common Core, and adopting the imploding PARCC exam will actually lower student achievement and threaten the gains Massachusetts has made with Ed Reform."
Following a very successful presentation last summer by leading Common Core and PARCC critic Dr. Duke Pesta, Common Core Forum's informational series continues this month with Dr. Peg Luksik.
Dr. Luksik is a Pennsylvania teacher with over 35 years of experience in both special education and elementary education. Dr. Luksik has taught at every level from pre-school to college in regular classrooms, resource centers, self-contained special education classes, and in alternative educational settings. She has trained teachers in curriculum and classroom management, written and evaluated curricula, authored several books on education issues, and hosted a nationally syndicated television program dealing with education in America. Luksik also worked for the U.S. Department of Education, where her task was to review and evaluate education reform initiatives.
Dr. Luksik will speak at Saint Anne's Church, (the Fr. Smith Center), 130 Boston Turnpike, Shrewsbury, MA on Wednesday, September 17th, starting at 7:00 pm. Doors open at 6:30.
Greater Boston Tea Party September 2014 meeting:
The Homeschooling Alternative:
Monday September 8, 7:30PM
Lir Restaurant 903 Boylston Street (Back Bay)
For most of the last fifty years the ranks of parents who decided to take charge of their children's education grew slowly. But in the new century this growth has started to snowball. In Massachusetts parents are becoming frustrated, first by the oncoming hollowing of standards through Common Core, second by the State's refusal to lift the cap on charter schools, and third by the expense of private institutions.
There are now thousands of families in Massachusetts who educate their children at home with the aid of inexpensive teaching materials online and with the support of parent groups and homeschooling co-ops. But homeschooling itself invites a fresh way of think about education and the preparation of children for adulthood.
Speakers to the Greater Boston Tea Party on the 8th will be:
Samuel Blumenfeld, critic of public education for fifty years, author of numerous books including "Alphaphonics" and "How to Tutor."
Patrick Farenga, frequent public speaker and prominent spokesman for the "unschooling" movement founded by John Holt .
Christopher Murphy, private tutor in classical languages and other subjects, and adviser to various city churches on education issues.
Bill Heuer, member of the board of the Massachusetts Home Learning Association (MHLA)
Malcolm Lillie, Western director of MassHOPE (Massachusetts Homeschool Organization of Parent Educators)
Citizen Group instrumental in putting brakes on new high stakes test for students
WORCESTER, MA - Massachusetts parents, activists and former educators have formed Common Core Forum (CCF) - an organization dedicated to informing Moms and Dads and other stakeholders about the proposed PARCC exam and related Common Core State Standards.
In a few short months, CCF has worked to educate local officials and parents about the serious drawbacks of PARCC and the results are astounding. To-date, over 60% of all Massachusetts Public School Districts have opted to delay, defer or reject the new high stakes exam touted by both the Patrick and Obama Administrations, making it's future implementation highly questionable.
After a closer review of the state's 408 school districts, a whopping 66% have either remained undecided, or have chosen to remain with MCAS as of the June 30, 2014 early decision deadline. (Source: Massachusetts Department of elementary and Secondary Education)
Donna Colorio, founder of the Common Core Forum, and former Worcester School Committee member states, "CCF believes in high academic standards and maximum parental input. PARCC removes local decision making authority due in part to the test being privately copyrighted. Our members strongly believe implementing PARCC and Common Core will lower student achievement and threaten the considerable gains Massachusetts has made with Ed Reform."
Colorio notes that Common Core Forum will now push ahead with rallying support for new legislation designed to expose the flawed PARCC/Common Core initiative.
Starting in 2015, CCF calls for both (D) and (R) sponsors at the State House to support a new Let's Stay #1 Legislative Package:
• CCF endorses new "opt out" legislation empowering MA Moms / Dads to remove their district children from an inferior and duplicative high stakes exam (PARCC) which is not internationally benchmarked nor supported by our leading teacher unions.
•CCF endorses new "snuff out" legislation immediately halting the unnecessary Data Collection Process undertaken by Common Core, implemented by PARCC and the MA DESE. This Is an unnecessary intrusion that violates parental rights and family privacy.
•CCF endorses filing new "time out" legislation placing a two-year moratorium on PARCC implementation for Massachusetts until further independent review is completed. CCF favors staying with the MCAS exam and a return to the pre-2010 MA Curriculum Frameworks WHICH are academically superior to Common Core.
•CCF calls for the re-introduction of a "de-funding Common Core" bill for Massachusetts. The President's so-called "Race to the Top" initiative should be replaced with "A Race to Localize" emphasis for successful public education states like Massachusetts. (See Rep. Jim Lyons 2013-2014 Bill)
•CCF supports a new "cost/ benefit analysis" requirement calculating the unfunded mandate, price tag placed on the Commonwealth's 351 city/towns. These are public tax dollars not spent on Special Education, professional development or vocational education. (See Rep. Keiko Orrall's 2013-2014 Bill)
The Common Core Forum is a statewide all-volunteer, non-partisan group that does not accept donations.
Yes, we've done it again -- six new votes added to the MassFiscal Scorecard! As usual, you can check out a brief explanation of each new vote follows, then head over to the site itself to find out how your representative and senator voted.
SENATE (4 Votes)
1. Study PARCC Implementation Costs (Roll Call #406): This amendment sought to require an analysis of the costs associated with switching from the current MCAS assessments to the proposed PARCC tests. MassFiscal would have voted YES. The amendment failed 14-25 (D: 10-25; R: 4-0).
2. Senate Version of Charter School Expansion (Roll Call #407): This vote was on the Senate version of a proposal to raise the cap on the number of charter schools in Massachusetts. Unlike the House version, it included guarantees of more funding for school districts whose students transfer to charter schools. MassFiscal would have voted YES. The proposal failed 13-26 (D: 9-26; R: 4-0).
3. House Version of Charter School Expansion (Senate Vote - Roll Call #408): This vote was on the House version of a proposal to raise the cap on the number of charter schools in Massachusetts. Unlike the Senate version, it did not include guarantees of more funding for school districts whose students transfer to charter schools. MassFiscal would have voted YES. The bill failed9-30 (D: 5-30; R: 4-0).
1. House Version of Charter School Expansion (House Vote - Roll Call #378): This vote was on the House version of a proposal to raise the cap on the number of charter schools in Massachusetts. Unlike the Senate version, it did not include guarantees of more funding for school districts whose students transfer to charter schools. MassFiscal would have voted YES. The bill passed 114-35 (D: 85-35; R: 29-0).
MASC's legal counsel Stephen J. Finnegan has determined that It is the right and responsibility of elected School Committees to decide whether to use MCAS or PARCC for the next school year. Contrary to what we have heard from state officials, superintendents and proponents of PARCC and Common Core, it is NOT the State Board of Education, local Superintendents, or the Commissioner of Education's decision, but rather
the local school committee's decision.
We strongly URGE you to continue with MCAS, as is happening in a growing list of diverse communities such as Peabody, Cambridge and Uxbridge, MA. We also urge you to vote for MCAS tests based on our
pre-2010 standards. Elected School Committees are beginning to understand that the quality of MCAS when it was based on the PRE-2010 Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks was the measure for other states to emulate.
It is no accident that the Educational Reform Act of 1993 had been working in our state and we urge you to reject PARCC/Common Core and work with us to roll-back this latest attempt to nationalize education policy. The proposed PARCC exam is a serious unfunded mandate placed upon our localities at a time when overall local aid has been reduced. There are many entities benefiting from this recent move to CCSS, including technology, publishing and testing organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft, Apple and Pearson.
PARCC and other new Common Core aligned exams are being rushed into operation without proper time and research. Please reconsider using the precious time and efforts of the children of our Commonwealth to test an exam that is no longer inevitable. The PARCC consortium now only has 9
states plus the District of Columbia utilizing the PARCC exam.
Ask yourself why so many states have left the consortium and if it is worth your district's time to field test an exam that is controlled by many other states besides Massachusetts. Continuing with MCAS means we have greater control
and power over the quality, structure and substance of the exam. Voting to utilize PARCC supports transitioning control and direction of the measurement of our children to organizations and individuals who are not in Massachusetts.
Finally, the recent election of Barbara Mandeloni as President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, who is an outspoken opponent of
Common Core and PARCC, is an indicator of the teachers' objections to the recent changes occurring in Massachusetts.
We sincerely thank you for your service to the children of the Commonwealth and encourage you to visit our website, Facebook page or Twitter for more information about PARCC and Common Core:
Facebook - Common Core Forum
For an immediate response, contact Donna Colorio at 508.450.0104 or CommonCoreForumMa@gmail.com.
Citizen Group Welcomes Dr. Duke Pesta to Shrewsbury, June 9th
SHREWSBURY, MA (May 27, 2014) - Massachusetts parents, grandparents, activists and former educators have formed Common Core Forum (CCF) - a new organization dedicated to enlightening the public about the proposed Common Core States Standards, usually referred to as Common Core.
The Common Core Forum is a statewide all-volunteer, non-partisan group that does not accept donations.
Donna Colorio, founder of the Common Core Forum, and former Worcester School Committee member states, "CCF's goal is to keep Massachusetts public schools #1. We are doing that by educating parents, school committees, school administrators and legislators." She continued, "CCF believes in local control of public education, high academic standards, and maximum parental input. Our members strongly believe implementing Common Core will lower student achievement and threaten the considerable gains Massachusetts has made with Ed Reform."
Common Core Forum's informational series begins with Dr. Duke Pesta, Professor of English, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. He will provide examples of how Common Core threatens to undermine, weaken, and centralize public and private education in the Commonwealth and throughout America. Dr. Pesta has spoken about Common Core to over 100 groups in the past year.
Dr. Pesta will speak at the Floral Street School, 57 Floral Street on Monday, June 9th in Shrewsbury, MA. Program begins at 7:00 pm. Doors open at 6:30. Admission is free and open to the public.
Amendment 67 to the state budget, filed by Rep. Jim Lyons, would have defunded Common Core and PARCC testing in Massachusetts. The language of that amendment is below
Mr. Lyons of Andover moves to amend the bill by inserting at the end thereof the following new section: - "Section XXXX. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), herein known as the department, shall expend no funds to develop or implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), nor shall the department expend any funds to develop or implement the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment."
The final vote was 119-31. The vote was mostly partisan, in spite of the fact that opposition to Common Core and PARCC is widespread across party lines. It was surprising to see legislators like John Velis, Diana DiZoglio, Hank Naughton and Danielle Gregoire vote against this common-sense amendment. Don't they realize how much their constituents are already being hurt by this new intrusion in our educational system?
Here is a question for all of the RMG readers - 'If mortgage interest rates go down, what happens to the price of houses for sale?'. Answer: They go up!
Second question, if mortgage interest rates go up, what happens to the price of houses for sale?'. Answer: they go down.
These are facts! And it is a fact based on the understanding that a person has a fixed amount of income on which to acquire housing. The cost is acquiring that housing is comprised of principle and interest. If one goes up the other must come down, and vice versa.
The same goes for education loans. A student/Parent has a fixed amount of money for which to acquire an education. If the student loan rates go up then the tuition must come down. If the student loan rate comes down then the tuition will go up.
By arguing for student loan interest rate decreases what Elizabeth Warren is actually doing is re allocating the cost of education away from the interest and back to the college's tuition. Schools know that if a person has $100,000 to spend for a 4 year degree then it will be split between tuition and the interest on the loans. Raise one and the other goes down.
Elizabeth Warren is in Washington it appears in order to fight for tuition increases for her Harvard buddies. She is not there to help those living on the ragged edge of the middle class..... Elizabeth Warren is a phony...
Warren's entire argument for fighting the cost of college education is based on lowering interest rates and making more money available for students - this will with absolute certainty raise the price of a 4 year degree. it is absolute and without question and the Harvard Law School Professor should know better or get educated...
MAYNARD- Candidate for the MA State Senate Dean Cavaretta (R-Stow) has issued the following statement showcasing the utter desperation of MA Democratic Party Communications Manager, Kevin Franck to try and link comments Cavaretta made in an online live chat appearance, with the silly assertion that Dean somehow claimed the endorsement of President Bill Clinton.
Here are the 5 top differences between myself and my 2012 State Senate Opponent:
#1 HE has voted to raise major state taxes in this Great Recession; Economically, I do not believe now is the time to raise Massachusetts taxes on anyone, or propose major new regulations on small businesses.
CAVARETTA CALLS ON OPPONENT TO DEBATE EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE AND THE FUTURE OF STATE TRANSPORTATION
STOW - Dean Cavaretta, Republican candidate for the Massachusetts State Senate, today called upon his Democratic opponent to debate education, health care and state transportation issues in the Middlesex and Worcester District.
"I am running for State Senate to offer new policies that will put education and the economy first," said Cavaretta in a statement. "My newly launched Education Web site will help me show voters how I will use my skills as a former teacher to support accountable and local education reform."
www.MomsAndDadsForDean.com features a collection of education-related information about Cavaretta and his 2012 campaign.
As an example, Dean's new site includes detailed information about Cavaretta's professional experience in the Ashland, Lexington, Acton-Boxborough and Concord Carlisle school systems - skills the candidate says make him perfectly-suited to know how to improve public education in Massachusetts.
Cavaretta has taught 8th grade, U.S. History in Lexington. Previously, he student-taught at Ashland High School while concurrently working as the History Department's Special Education Aide. He has also works as an area substitute teacher, and taught ESL and Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs to adult learners at the ABE Program at Devens and Mt. Wachusett Community College.
SAVE MEDICARE FOR SENIORS
"My opponent owes us an explanation why he continues to support a VT or Canadian-style health care system for Massachusetts when he knows such a massive expansion of government, even with all the tax increases would bankrupt our state," said Cavaretta.
"Our cities and towns lack the Local Aid they need to deliver essential services, and our state transportation network is in need of faster project delivery. Yet, my opponent, just this week, insists on imposing an unworkable health care scheme called 'MA Medicare for-All' that he knows would put us even further behind financially. During this fiscal emergency, I believe we have a responsibility to save Medicare for seniors first."
Cavaretta has proposed setting the bold goal of making all MA infrastructure projects take six years or less and transform the state's Project Delivery Process, similar to pilot reforms he previously worked on with the Governor's 8-year, Accelerated Bridge Program.
"I'll insist on performance based management and on-time delivery for all of MassDOT and the MBTA because reforming state transportation is central to our Economic Recovery," said Cavaretta. I've already done this at MassDOT and in the private sector, and will use my proven experience to get better results for our communities."
Cavaretta has proposed that the two Middlesex and Worcester State Senate candidates debate at a public forum to be held within their district sometime in the next 2 months.
During my tenure as Governor of Massachusetts I had to make many important decisions. I am writing now to ask that you join with me by making another important decision for our Commonwealth.
Throughout my years of public service our Commonwealth enjoyed tremendous triumphs, which included the landmark Education Reform Act, creation of tens of thousands of jobs and a reduction in the state's income tax rate.
Indeed, my Administration was able to get Massachusetts moving in the right direction and as a result our state enjoyed many years of prosperity and success that are now a distant memory for too many of our fellow citizens. But, our accomplishments came as a result of intense cooperation, compromise and consensus building among all branches of MA government.
Although we had differences, we were able to work with legislators to build consensus and come to agreement on many contentious issues.
Now, as our state is facing high unemployment, an increased tax burden and a dismantling of our educational gains, we need leaders that understand the importance of consensus building.
That is why I am pleased to announce my endorsement of Dean Cavaretta for State Senate.
As our next State Senator, Dean has the temperament, work ethic and skill set we need to get Massachusetts moving in the right direction once again.
Dean has what it takes to be a great State Senator. His commitment to public education, his pledge to keep taxes low and his jobs plan will help get MetroWest and Assabet Valley working again. These are all important issues that Dean is on the right side of.
Dean Cavaretta is putting education and the economy first. Can you join with me today in support of his candidacy?
You can volunteer or donate online by visiting www.DeanCavaretta.com and www.MomsAndDadsForDean.com
Or, please make checks payable to:
The Cavaretta Committee
Post Office Box 136
Stow, MA 01775
We are facing some important decisions this November and it is just as important that we elect leaders that have the right priorities for Middlesex and Worcester, our state and, most importantly, our people.
Please join with me and help Dean Cavaretta for State Senate. Dean has my backing and I hope that you can take action and support him during this important election.
Argeo Paul Cellucci
Governor of the Commonwealth
(For every 10 spam posts I delete, Eno let's me blatantly plug one of my local candidates! Dean is running vs. "Progressive" Jamie Eldridge in the Middlesex & Worcester District. - promoted by Paul R. Ferro)
New Site Focuses on State Senate Candidate's Support for Education And Credentials As a Former Public School Teacher
STOW - Stow resident Dean Cavaretta, candidate for Massachusetts State Senate in the Middlesex and Worcester District, is featured in a new Web site highlighting his support for public education and his experience as a licensed public school teacher.
The Web site, MomsAndDadsForDean.com, was officially unveiled by the Cavaretta for State Senate campaign today.
"I am running for State Senate to offer new policies that will put education and the economy first," said Cavaretta in a statement. "This new Web site will help me show people how I will use my skills as a former teacher to support accountable and local education reform."
MomsAndDadsForDean.com features a collection of education-related information about Cavaretta and his campaign.
For example, the site includes detailed information about Cavaretta's professional experience in the Ashland, Lexington, Acton-Boxborough and Concord Carlisle school systems - skills the candidate says make him perfectly suited to know how to reform public education in Massachusetts.
A biographical page on the Web site notes that Cavaretta became dual-certified to teach United States History and Political Science to Grades 5-12 by the Massachusetts Department of Education. He taught U.S. History to eighth graders in Lexington. He also completed Secondary Education and Student-Teaching Coursework with Framingham State College's Post Baccalaureate Teacher Licensure (PBTL) Program. Cavaretta student-taught at Ashland High School while concurrently working as the History Department's Special Education inclusion aide. He has served as a substitute teacher in different systems, and has taught ESL and Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs to immigrant, adult learners at the ABE Program at Devens and Mt. Wachusett Community College (Adjunct Instructor), as well as at a Brazilian church founded in Marlborough.
The site also points out that Cavaretta has combined his teaching skills and a love of sports to help student-athletes achieve success on and off the playing fields. He served as the Freshman Football Coach at Concord Carlisle Regional High School and Acton-Boxborough Regional High School. He was also Head Junior Varsity and Assistant Varsity Lacrosse Coach at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, where he is a proud member of the Acton-Boxborough Athletic Hall of Fame.
MomsAndDadsForDean.com also contains information about how Cavaretta intends to reform public education, including a Ten-Point Plan the candidate is proposing as part of his campaign. Cavaretta has repeatedly vowed he will be the "Education State Senator" if he is elected, focusing on policies that grant higher performing school districts, including Middlesex and Worcester, more autonomy over school building assistance, regionalization agreements and curriculum decisions. Cavaretta also supports an MCAS Exam for U.S. History and greater state assistance for training rookie teachers, calling professional development "the new unfunded mandate" in Massachusetts Education Reform that needs to be fixed.
The Web site also contains testimonials from people supporting Cavaretta's candidacy.
Residents wishing further information about Cavaretta and his campaign can also visit the campaign's existing Web site, DeanCavaretta.com, in addition to following the candidate on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
It is baffling and telling that State Sen. Jamie Eldridge is scheduled to again travel outside his Middlesex & Worcester District (Wednesday evening, 3/14) to try and sell his Medicare-4-All Plan, (modeled after Canada or VT), when policy makers should be doing everything they can to save the near bankrupt Medicare for Seniors.
The Eldridge Bill in the MA State Senate (S Bill 509) contains FIVE new state taxes on income, capital gains, payroll, employees and employers. It will cause private sector layoffs, drive Mass. doctors from medicine, and reduce the quality of care throughout our state.
ITEM: Across my district Local Aid is down, Property Taxes are up and Home Values are falling. Road, Bridge and MBTA jobs take 7-10+ years to build. Chapter 70 School Aid relative to MetroWest vs. the Big Cities is still not equitable.
Yet, Greater Marlborough's State Senator this winter and spring has focused almost exclusively on repeating the Evergreen Solar boondoggle for new job creation, a non-binding resolution re: a U.S Supreme Court Decision, changing the Electoral College to a popular vote, and a Single Payer Health Care Bill that is so radical and unworkable it would never pass the Legislature.
It is time to put Education and the Economy first, rather than a failed and progressive policy agenda catered exclusively to the Special Interests. Let's speed up road, bridge and MBTA projects, create new jobs by supporting all small businesses and improve public education by once and for all eliminating unfunded state mandates that cost-shift expenses on to local taxpayers.
2012 Candidate for State Senate
BOSTON - (March 1, 2012) Massachusetts regained the top spot on the 11th Annual Beacon Hill Institute's State Competitiveness Report. Last year the Bay State ranked third behind Colorado and North Dakota, which finished first last year. Longstanding strengths in human resources, technology and openness buoyed Massachusetts.
The BHI competitiveness index is based on a set of 44 indicators divided into eight sub-indexes - government and fiscal policy, security, infrastructure, human resources, technology, business incubation, openness, and environmental policy. The breadth of the BHI index distinguishes it from more narrowly-focused measures of competitiveness that target only taxes, high tech, or economic freedom.
Massachusetts continues to show real strengths in its human resources (particularly with its top-scoring student achievement), technology (with its large base of scientists and engineers and high-tech employment) and business incubation, where Massachusetts draws the top ranking in terms of venture capital per capita. The state ranked first with the fewest number of residents going without health insurance. It is a favorite destination of National Institutes of Health grant money.
With the introduction of the Great Teachers Great Schools initiative - An Act to Promote Excellence in Public Schools – earlier this month, and the subsequent lawsuit the MTA filed to challenge Attorney General Martha Coakley’s decision to certify the initiative, a lot of information, some accurate and some inaccurate, has been circulating throughout the Commonwealth.
One point being made is that a recently updated and more rigorous teacher evaluation system is already being implemented. Stand for Children was proud to join the MTA, state education leaders, and other stakeholders in advocating for that new system. Not only did we sit on the task force that made an initial set of recommendations, we educated and mobilized our membership on the issue, generating 700 pieces of written testimony from educators and parents that were submitted to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
All groups involved in advocacy around the content of the regulations were unanimously committed to creating a more functional and productive evaluation system centered on improving teaching and learning. While these evaluations represent a step in the right direction, unless key changes are made to state law, there is still no promise that all school districts will be using them as a benchmark for teacher placement anytime soon.
Will ensure that every classroom is led by an effective teacher. This is critical to closing the alarming achievement gap in Massachusetts.
Takes current evaluation systems one step further by guaranteeing that they will be consistently implemented by schools across the Commonwealth.
Has received significant statewide support - a UMASS Amherst poll showed 85% of MA voters believe teacher staffing decisions should be based on performance rather than how long a teacher has been in the classroom.
Successfully passed all procedural and constitutional reviews for introduction into the state legislature
Yesterday, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin transmitted to the state legislature An Act to Promote Excellence in Public Schools. The proposed initiative, if passed, would make necessary changes to state law to ensure every public school in Massachusetts gives effectiveness a more prominent role than seniority in decisions regarding teacher assignments and layoffs. This very concept not only has significant support from Massachusetts voters (with a recent UMASS Amherst poll showing 85% of voters approving), it is a critical next step to closing the achievement gap and providing every child in Massachusetts, regardless of their background or zip code, access to a great education.
Massachusetts has always been a leader in public education; we had the nation’s first public high school and consistently rank high on national and international assessments. Yet, we still have incredible inequities within our schools. The large achievement gaps that separate low-income students and students of color from their peers clearly demonstrate that we are failing too many of our kids in too many of our schools.
Massachusetts is my home. I was born and raised in Fall River, and I have always been proud of the strong value our Commonwealth places on education. As the first person in my family to graduate from college, I experienced the power that a quality education has to change students’ lives and increase their chances to succeed. And in my years as a teacher in one of the nation’s toughest school districts, I saw firsthand the power that teachers have to transform kids’ lives.
After graduating from Boston College, I taught 6th grade math and science in East Oakland. One of my students entered my classroom years behind his peers and far behind where he needed to be to succeed. To cope with the embarrassment of not being able to read, he would often act out in class, which led many adults in previous years to give up on him. I couldn’t accept that. Instead of writing him off, I pushed him, encouraged him, told him he would succeed, and raised his and my expectations for what he could become. And he rose to the occasion. In just one year, he grew academically at an astonishing pace, proving to himself and the school that he could achieve. If he had continued down that path, with a great teacher pushing him to achieve every year, he would have been back on track with his peers in just a few years. Unfortunately, the school system failed him. He wasn’t pushed, wasn’t supported, wasn’t challenged, and as a result, he’s no longer with us. He suffered the same fate too many of the kids we fail face when he dropped out of school and his life was taken at a young age due to gang violence.
I hold the story of this child – a young person who had a real chance to succeed if adults in the school system hadn’t failed him – close to me every day as I advocate to improve our public schools. He proved that if we give children a chance, and push them to be the best they can be, they can achieve.
That’s why I am proud of the work Stand for Children has done since 2003 to improve public schools across the Commonwealth, including leveraging more than $1.35 billion for our public school classrooms and helping to pass health benefit reform legislation, allowing communities throughout Massachusetts to save millions of dollars that helped to save teachers’ jobs, upgrade classroom technology and ultimately build better, improved schools for Massachusetts’ children.
Yesterday, as Secretary Galvin prepared to transmit the initiative to the State House, we launched a new website for the Great Teachers Great Schools campaign to inform, engage and mobilize voters to take action on this important issue. I invite you to learn more about this campaign at www.greatteachersgreatschools.org, where you can watch a video that features parents, teachers and school leaders from Massachusetts speaking about the significance of putting performance first in teacher assignment decisions.
Now that the initiative has been presented to the legislature, lawmakers have an opportunity to do what an overwhelming majority of Massachusetts voters support – ensure our schools promote and recognize teachers based on performance, not just seniority. Whether a teacher started 25 years ago or yesterday, we should show them the respect they deserve for mastering their craft and getting results for all children. In passing the changes to state law in the proposed initiative, lawmakers will ensure no child spends another minute in a classroom where they are not learning, living up to the longstanding and deeply-held Massachusetts value of providing a great education to all children.
I look forward to working with our elected leaders, parents, teachers, students and advocates in the coming months to accomplish this for our kids. Please join us – to learn more, get involved and take action, please visit the Great Teachers Great Schools website today and help us achieve this victory for all children in Massachusetts.
Sal Khan, online education innovator, spoke at our 14th annual Peters Lecture last week. He talked about how Khan Academy became a platform serving millions of kids around the world. He's witty, humble, and a great inspiration to all Americans. Here's the video.
The Peters Lecture was a special event for Pioneer members but most of our events are free and open to the public. We have a digital learning forum coming up on December 5th, featuring Julie Young, CEO of Florida Virtual School, and Jane Swift, former Massachusetts Governor, who is now with CEO of Middlebury Interactive Languages, LLC, a joint venture between K12, Inc., the largest virtual school provider in the United States, and Middlebury College. Please join us! Refreshments will be served
Monday, December 5, 2011
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Omni Parker House
60 School St., Boston MA
RSVP to Brian Patterson by Nov. 28th at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-723-2277 ext. 217
Back in February, Bill Gates gave an interesting lecture regarding the effects of unsustainable State Budgets on public education. He brings up a key point, one which lawmakers everywhere, but especially Massachusetts, should take note of - unfunded liabilities will not be remedied by increased revenues, but by increased reform. You can see the video here -