Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Governor visits Worcester

Governor Patrick was in town yesterday to visit University Park Campus School. (It even made his Twitter feed.) He's citing UPCS as an example of the "Innovation Schools" that he has put into the bill currently before the Legislature.


  • Let's first of all remember that UPCS teachers actually operate under the EAW contract. In other words, all that stuff about having to throw the contract out the window? Not necessary.
  • Let's secondly remember that Clark is an amazing partner in this: they throw tons of support towards UPCS (including, but by no means limited to, tuition for those who graduate from UPCS). This is not a small thing.
  • Finally, UPCS is another "buy in" school. For a student to attend UPCS, somebody had to care enough and get enough together to get the kid into that school. There's a commitment involved in having a kid there that isn't true at other schools.

Don't in any way misread me: University Park does great work. Those kids are learning and growing, and (more important) they are enthusiastic about it.
But to suggest that this is a model for education reform, as if one can simply replicate this across the state misses what makes UPCS work: somebody bought in.

We in Worcester--and everyone in public education across the state--educate EVERYBODY: the ones whose parents care, the ones whose parents don't, and the ones whose parents aren't even around. Not every kid has a "buy in" and not every kid buys in himself. He needs an education, nonetheless, and we're responsible for that.
Innovation in education would require recognizing that responsibility, rather than holding up as examplary schools that aren't replicable.


Nicole said...

Do they have a different (stricter) code of conduct than WPS? If a kid is kicked out of the UPCS for a behavior issue, would that kid be allowed to attend the school in the future?

Something else you didn't mention: this school is TINY (231 students over 6 grades) compared to any public middle or high school in the city; my graduating class in high school was bigger than the whole school! Does its small size make it more difficult for a student to "fall through the cracks"? (I think this especially important, because there's been a lot of talk about cutting administrative costs by having larger schools.)

(And -- if I may -- when people talk about PILOT, I believe this school is a perfect example of a non-monetary (direct to city coffers, at least) payment in lieu of taxes. But that's my own ax to grind...)

Jim Gonyea said...

You hit the nail on the head with the "buy in factor." It's absolutely true. A lot of people make the mistake that somehow charters take the best students. They don't. They take students whose parents take a strong active role in their education. And only students with parents taking a strong active role. I will say that Worcester's magnet schools have a similar commitment. My daughter, when we lived in Worcester, attended Jacob Hiatt and we know how well that school performs.