Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Worcester Public Schools nutrition (and tastiness) cited in the Globe today

Nice reference to the Worcester Public Schools' nutrition department today in the Boston Globe:

Donna Lombardi, nutrition director for Worcester Public Schools, reports a 15 percent increase in participation since the system began offering more whole grains and fresh produce, baking its own muffins, serving baked or rotisserie chicken in lieu of nuggets and patties, and taking other steps toward better nutrition.

That's right: they made it healthier...and more kids bought it! Excellent news. If you go through the photo gallery, there's also a nice photo of the vegetables and fruits from local farms at Gates Lane.
And for those of you wondering: yes, Worcester's school lunch program does support itself.
h/t to Nicole for this one

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back to School

Just a reminder that the teachers in the Worcester Public Schools officially came back today ('though I heard from more than one principal that many were in last week during the rain!). The kids go back on Wednesday (watch for the buses!).
Kindergartners start next Wednesday, after their pre-kindergarten screenings this week and early next, and preschoolers start the same day.

Wishing everyone an excellent year! Study hard, think creatively, and enjoy learning!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Backpacks for Set for Success

The Set for Success school supplies drive is alive and going right now. You'll find yellow boxes at locations around the city including the library and City Hall.
For those who are not, perhaps, going out and stocking up on $1 packages of pens and such, or want to give more substantially, Brendan Melican has set up the following challenge:

I found a distributor who will sell 250 backpacks to me for just over $1,300. Think of this as a group buy, where for what amounts to pocket change we can make sure 250 Worcester Public School children will have one less thing to worry about when they start school this year. If you have a moment, please donate whatever you can fit in your budget. No donation is too small, every bit helps.

I know that we are a generous community that can make this happen! Please donate and share widely.

First week of school agenda

The September 2 agenda of the Worcester School Committee is up.
The first order of business is committee consideration of the recess policy (if you care, please come!). We also have the information regarding all of the summer transfers (including teachers who had to re-apply for their jobs), new hires, and retirements.
The Finance and Operations subcommittee report is coming back to the full committee. This includes the end of year balances for FY10, a proposed sign policy for Foley Stadium, a proposed course of action for South High's pool, and a proposed method of dealing with grants (making them all, in various ways, public).
Mrs. Mullaney has a couple of proposed items regarding summer: summertime administrative coverage, and the avaliablity of student schedules over the summer.
I've also co-sponsored an item on International Walk to School Day, which is October 6. I hope that if your children attend a neighborhood school and it's walkable, you'll walk to school that Wednesday, and ask others to join you! I hope this can also be a chance to have some conversations around what does and doesn't make it possible to have kids walk to school.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Duncan heads north

Apparently, Secretary Duncan will be in the area, 'though he's not stopping anywhere closer than Springfield.
I'm willing to bet that he will not be able to avoid at least one reference to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

filing old business

The administration has created a list of items that have been answered but not yet filed, requesting that they be filed.
suggestion of a new rule from the chair: Anything that goes to subcommittee and sits there for 18 months, it automatically gets filed (without prejudice, so the member can refile the item) (if the item is actively being debated, it obviously does not get filed). He adds "or referred to administration"
"it is incumbent on the chair of each committee to keep moving on these items" Monfredo
Some concern from O'Connell, Monfredo on this idea
it also has been the past practice (unofficially, of course) of some previous administrations to ignore items to which it has no intention of responding...though I will add, as I did from the floor, that such is not the case with the current administration.

And that's it! Meeting next week, September 2, starts at 7pm!

early retirement

participation in the early retirement incentive
potentially employers only need 20 years of service to participate
If we had 20 people take advantage of the early retirement incentive and used 30% backfill, we could save UP TO $546,420
we want to make sure that we don't end up with underserved schools
cap at 20, but SC can sort numbers (so many custodians, administrative clerical, school clerical, parent liaisons, those being the positions recommended for participation in early retirement)
SC recommends UP TO 6 positions each in custodians, administrative clerical, school clerical, and 2 parent liasons for the total of 20 positions
Allen: assuming that we will be at foundation next year, but we're STILL $10 million short heading into next year due to the loss of IDEA, ARRA funds. IF the economy doesn't improve and we AREN'T at foundation, we're going to be in worse shape than that.
This is a chance, thus, to save a half a million dollars and still be able to replace 30% of the salaries of the staff we lose
We aren't going to have that advantage next spring
recommendation that these moneys be used, then education jobs funds be forwarded to FY12

General business

(That's what "gb" in the item number stands for...did you know?)

recommendation on expenditure of health insurance trust fund and early retirement incentive
asking for report from Special ed director on expenditure of assistive technology for special education (are we behind on our expenditures?)

election of delegate and alternate to MASC Delegate Assembly of MASC in November (I was elected...which I'm honored to be entrusted with)

making recommendations to MA BoE on material for "Massachusetts Supplement" to Common Core Standards
states are allowed to add to the Common Core up to 15%
refered to TLSS
aligning our curriculum in mathematics and ELA to Common Core by the 2012-13 school year

the Maxine Levy scholarship fund is up to $14,752

rewrite of homeschooling communication in line with MA case law (added by the mayor: how we handle kids who are homeschooling coming in for part days. added by Biancheria: how many kids are homeschooled in Worcester)

another legislative meeting: Monfredo recommends meeting in November, then schedule meetings for the rest of the year (January, March, April)

charter school transportation costs: provided at no costs Monday to Thursday; Friday they have an early release, providing WRTA passes (about $5000) for that day
their transportation schedule and their location of students can use the same 90 buses that we have
$750,000 for private/ parochial/ charter students to be bussed
the mayor would like to know if the kids signing up qualify for free or reduced lunch (using addresses of students asking for transportation)

Public testimony on recess

Public testimony
mother of two at Midland: "policy to create healthy environments"
"growing evidence of the impact of district-level policies on weigh status...not enough to leave it at the individual schools, there's a need for district level policies...a right, not a privilege...needs to be another solution, rather than to hold kids inside for misbehavior. Too often weather becomes a reason not be outside."
Liz Sheehan Castro: Hunger-free and Healthy
"ensures that all students in the elementary schools have a recess..have it before the lunch period rather than after the lunch period"
"reduced food waste, increased consumption of calcium and protein, decrease misbehavior, and increase time on task" to have recess BEFORE rather than after lunch
Pioneering Healthy Communities
recess before lunch, an active recess
obseity and inactivity--->diabetes
Worcester County Bank and Worcester Food Advisory Council
"that nuture the whole child...their minds, bodies, and spirits"
"we help to guarantee the learning return on our investment...how we can leverage all those resources for all our children"
Foley: recognize the need for policy change across our communities : "see this as being a first step"
recess policy HELD until next week, with the policy forwarded to principals to arrange their schedules with the assumption that the policy will be passed on the second day of school

recess from subcommittee

recess: formal policy to come back in December 2010 from administration after the principals, teachers, parents, and students see how this proposed draft policy works on the ground
(is there a way of asking students how this is working? K-6?)
list of localized concerns around recess
committee conversation around recess will be held until next week, as O'Connell makes motion to hold recess policy until next week
the mayor asks that the admin forward the policy as passed in subcom to principals, as it is the intent of the School Committee to pass this next week, two days into the new school year, and ask them to arrange their schedules accordingly
(So did you catch that? The committee held the policy, but it will be forwarded to schools this week, as School Committee will pass it or something like, next week)

TLSS subcommittee report (except recess)

TLSS subcommittee report
review of math curriculum (particularly around the question of the common core)
special ed students at Tech: report on pilot program
status report on the program in Jan 2011, plus systematic review
annual progress report on parent involvement: Monfredo calls for re-establishement of Family Involvement committee
Level 4 schools reports: School Committee suggestions
parents to serve on citywide committees
asking that librarians be added to those schools
preschool being added to Union Hill (as it has been de facto)
parental liaison
subcom also asked for a report on the summer projects at Chandler Elementary and Union Hill

Update on federal funds

update on Education Jobs federal funds and Race to the Top taken out of order, at the mayor's request
signed August 10 by the President
WPS does get backfilled funds on Ch.70 (cut by Legislature...not a full 4%), as well as the full $25 per pupil=$1,911,816
(one wonders what the state is going to use the stimulus funds they took back for?)
recommendation of the superintendent that we set aside the $1.9 million for FY12
Race to the Top: one of ten states award round 2 of RTTT
Massachusetts had the highest score of all states in both rounds
total of $250 million for the state; 50% for districts (via Title 1 funding formula)
the week of Sept.7, the state is beginning conversations about applying for the funds
Monfredo asks if there are any contracted teachers laid off: admin anticipates calling back all of them (without having to spend this money)
O'Connell supports the admin's recommendation that we use the funds for FY12
if it appears that FY12 will not be as bad as forecast, ask that we consider using funds this year, as needed
on RTTT, "the devil is in the details": prof development, recruitment of teachers, programs with other districts
issues that may well be sensitive
O'Brien comments that at some point we need a scorecard of how much money (and where it's gone) we've gotten from the federal gov't, and he requests a report on what we've gotten and limitations on what the money can be used for
Foley asks that they use a small font, and adds that saved jobs would be a good addition. "this would be a very, very different school district were it not" for the federal money

a wifi-less meeting

My apologies to those who were hoping for some during-the-meeting posts tonight. The wifi was down at City Hall.
And I know very well there are some of you who are reading this FROM City Hall, so if someone might nicely ask the tech department to fix that, I'd appreciate it!
I did take notes...they're coming up now! School Committee was in executive session until after 8 tonight.

Federal education jobs money

An excellent illustration of not counting chickens...
The state informed districts of the allocation of the federal "edujobs" money yesterday. The state had the choice of allocating the money according to the federal Title 1 rules or to the state's formula (Ch. 70, in the case of Massachusetts). As I mentioned below, either allocation privileges some districts over others; for Worcester, allocation by Title 1 would be advantageous.
The Governor went with Ch. 70.
A few things of note:
  • the state is first making up for the 4% Ch. 70 cut made to many districts this spring. Any district that would be cut below foundation did not receive this cut, Worcester included. This should be a help for the districts that did, 'though the last week of August is rather late to do much for this year.
  • the state is taking back $54.6 million that it had allocated to districts of federal stimulus money, and replacing it with this money instead. Thus, Worcester is losing $2.7 million in stimulus money and having it replaced by these funds. Keep that mind when totals starts flying around!
  • the state is funding Ch. 70 aid at $25 a pupil. This will get Worcester $1.9 million.
  • "State guidance reminds districts that the primary purpose of the Education Jobs program is to allow local school districts to retain existing employees, to recall or rehire former employees, and to hire new employees for the 2010-11 school year" says Superintendent Boone. It thus isn't to be used for textbooks, computers, repaving, or pay raises.
In total, Worcester will receive $4.6 million in funding, but count only $1.9 million of that as new money. For a complete list, district by district, see here.
The recommendation of the administration--and you'll agree if you remember slide after slide of the FY12 funding cliff!--is that the money be retained for the projected $10-20 million budget gap in FY12, particularly as "We anticipate that all licensed, contracted teachers will be recalled through attrition or through the addition of staff at the secondary schools."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Judge lets school, suit proceed

Sorry, I missed this in my re-entry back from vacation. Worthy of a late post, however.

So the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School will be allowed to open next week. However--and this is a big 'however'--the lawsuit filed by Gloucester residents regarding the process of approving the school is also allowed to go forward.
Judge Richard Welch III also refused to dismiss the parents' lawsuit and wrote that the plaintiffs "present considerable evidence" that the state education commissioner and Board of Education "blatantly ignored and violated state law when granting the GCA charter for political reasons."
While the judge held that he could not prevent the charter school from opening as there was not immediate harm (as the school is in its first year, it is 100% reimbursed by the state), he encouraged them to try again in January, when some of the funding for the school will come from the community rather than entirely from the state.
This being the season it is, there were immediate calls for Reville's resignation and statements issued by various sides.
If Judge Welsh should hold that communities are harmed by charter schools in their communities (once the funding is not 100% reimbursed by the state), one wonders where that leaves charter schools across the state.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

School repairs: the list

You can find the entirety of the "who is getting what fixed" list starting on page 41 of the Finance and Operations agenda from this afternoon (the recommendations were approved at subcommittee; they'll go to the full committee next Thursday). A few overview notes:
  • every secondary school in the city, with the exceptions of North (being replaced; new school opens fall 2011), Tech (new school), and Forest Grove (redone recently) are on the list and having extensive work done
  • Nelson Place is not on the list, as it is now the #1 school on our "replace" list
  • there are two pots of money: the city capital money, over which we have disgression, and ESCO money, which is being directed according to the energy survey conducted by Honeywell. Thus there are some replacements being done in additional schools.
  • Both Union Hill and Chandler Elementary have had work done this summer, ahead of the opening next week

The lists, by quadrant, are:

Burncoat: Burncoat High, Burncoat Middle, Clark Street, Lincoln Street, Thorndyke Road, Worcester Arts Magnet

Doherty: Doherty High, Chandler Elementary, Chandler Magnet, Flagg Street, Midland Street, Tatnuck Magnet, West Tatnuck

North: Worcester East Middle, Grafton Street, Lake View, Rice Square, Union Hill

South: South High, Sullivan Middle, Columbus Park, Goddard School, Heard Street, UPCS

If you go through the pages following, you can find exactly what the proposed expenditures are for each school. The request by Mr. Monfredo that committees for "curb appeal" be put together was moved into a motion that any site-based decisions that need to be made be put through the principal and site council (with a committee created if needed and at their discretion).

UPDATING as I get them: RTTT awards: The list is in!

So far, EdWeek has:
  • Georgia
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • New York
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Rhode Island
  • and, yes, Massachusetts
It appears that the DoE is calling senators and telling them first, and they are leaking to the press. No official word yet from the DoE or from MA.
(I'm also watching the MTA's twitter list of media writers.)
And keep in mind that NY winning is a large amount of money gone. Also, that this money is specifically headed for new projects: this doesn't save any jobs.
Hechinger has surprises.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Worcester School Committee in session

It's a full week for the Worcester School Committee:

Today at 4pm, the subcommittee on Governance and Employee Issues is meeting. It's a one item agenda: dealing with the updated Open Meeting Law.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, at 4pm the subcommittee on Finance and Operations meets. Several items on that agenda: a revised policy on receiving grants (making it more public), a review of current grants (that's the 211 page list; if you have any questions on them, send them to me and I'll ask), a proposal for the capital expenditures, the usual quarterly update on finance, and creating a policy for advertising for the sign at Foley Stadium. Oh, and remember the pool at South High? We're getting a report back on how much it would cost to fix it (the answer? We don't know; do we want to spend money to find out?)

The full committee meets on Thursday at 4pm. The agenda is here. It includes a report back from the subcommittee on Teaching, Learning, and Student Supports; as well as the sort of stack of items you get when there hasn't been a meeting for a month!
(The subcommittee meetings are in room 410 at the Durkin Administration Building. The full committee meets in the Esther Howland chamber at City Hall.)

Also note that as of next week, the School Committee returns to the regular year first-and-third Thursday schedule.

This is What a Tipping Point Feels Like

Anthony Cody:

One must assume that Obama has made a Clintonesque political calculation. Faced with tremendous pressure from an alliance of corporate-sponsored education reform organizations and their allies in the media, Obama chose the easy way. He appointed an education secretary who would advance their agenda, apparently assuming that this was a battle he did not need, given all his other troubles...

Race to the Top tomorrow

Well, that was fast...

I can't find this on either the DESE or the DoE's feeds, but we're being told that Race to the Top round 2 will be announced tomorrow at noon.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Virtual school in Greenfield

The Greenfield School District recently received permission to open the state's first K-8 virtual school. There are a number of information sessions around the state happening during August, and tomorrow night, they're in Worcester.
(If I can manage it, I'll go and take notes.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

MA charter school applicants

...are in, and it appears Worcester's escaping an applicant this year.

The L.A. Times tries some value-added assessment

The online education community is abuzz over today's L.A. Times article which attempts, per the subtitle, "Grading the Teachers."
Using the LAUSD's testing data, they in essence tracked which kids did better from the beginning of the year to the end, by teacher. (I'm with those, incidentally, who think that a front page photo of a so-called "bad teacher" was a fairly lousy example of reporting.) Teaching Now pulls out the gist, including what is different than expected. Susan Ohanian gives a rundown on what doesn't work about this (starting with yes, these are standardized test scores we're talking about here, something which is not dealt with in the article nearly enough). The Quick and Ed wonders what direction this will send things in (what, parents lobby? Only the engaged ones...whose kids are probably better set to succeed, anyway).

UPDATE: I'm reminded that one must include Gerald Bracey for a good understanding of what value-added assessment can and cannot do.

About that education funding...

So how is it that some might get funding, but not all?
If, as I commented below, Governor Patrick goes through with only fully funding Ch. 70, districts that did not get a Ch.70 cut of 4% in the FY11 budget will get funds now. Districts like Worcester, that, if they'd receieved that 4% cut, would have been below foundation, will not receive funds now, as they have a fully funded--though, in the case of Worcester, just, as we once again have NO funding about the state mandated minimum--foundation budget.
Why the disparity?
(And I had to ask, too...)
Communities don't all contribute the same proportion to the foundation budget of their schools. Even setting aside what communities that are funding at 114%, 110% and so forth of foundation are doing over and above, some communites are funding 1/3 of their school spending (read: Worcester), and some are funding significantly more.
When Worcester Public Schools get a 4% cut in the state part of the funding, it's a significantly bigger proportion of the bottom line than it is in a community that funds more internally.

So then, why should Worcester get funds now?
The funds can be used not only this year, but next year. Part of the reason why Worcester did not have to lay off enormous numbers of people this year was due to savvy rationing of the federal stimulus funds; $10 million of WPS budget for FY11 is federal funds carefully set aside from previously. Those funds will run out this year. If we are to stave off the enormous gap in WPS finances for FY12, we're going to need some help. I think we all have our doubts about more help coming from the federal government at this point; if this is it, Worcester is going to need help next year.

Friday, August 13, 2010

States: Apply Now!

The application for states to get federal education jobs money is up.

He got it right the first time

An alert reader pointed out the Pioneer Institute's rejoinder to Secretary Reville's recent column in the Telegram and Gazette:
...a look at his “reform manifesto,” titled “Every Child a Winner!” reveals a very different picture. When it comes to high-stakes testing such as MCAS, he wrote, “A broad array of performance indicators should be developed, not simply results of standardized tests.”

On charter schools, he warned that a reliance on “market forces” would result in “little real improvement,” that it would “exacerbate inequalities of educational opportunity” and result in “further ghetto-izing minority and special needs students.”
Of course, the Secretary was right on both counts when he wrote that back in the early nineties. If only that philosophy were the one leading education in Massachusetts today.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

UPDATE on the federal funds, RTTT, and Medicaid: UPDATED

This just in from Commissioner Chester (via the ever-helpful MASC list-serv); I quote here in full:

As I'm sure you all know by now, President Obama signed legislation yesterday that will bring additional federal funds to Massachusetts for K-12 education. Under the new “Ed Jobs” program, we expect to receive approximately $200 million. We are assisting Secretary Reville and Governor Patrick in analyzing the opportunities and limitations for distributing these funds, and we also expect to receive some additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Education that may impact how districts can use the funds. At this point it is unclear which districts will receive funding, and how much will be allocated. We know that time is running short and that you are finalizing your spending plans for the coming school year. We will distribute reliable information once we have it – which may happen as early as next week.
The other portion of the new federal funding is known as FMAP, which are reimbursements related to the Medicaid program. As you may recall, some of the
appropriations in the FY11 state budget, including several education-related line items, were contingent on the receipt of these funds. These contingent appropriations were vetoed by the Governor. At the time of the veto, Governor Patrick stated that if FMAP were to be passed, he likely would file a supplemental budget bill. It is my understanding that the Legislature will need to take additional action, either to override the Governor’s vetoes or to respond to a supplemental budget bill, for these funds to be available for spending. At this time it is premature to speculate what programs might receive additional funding from FMAP.
Lastly, as many of you know, we had our Race to the Top finalist interview in Washington, DC. on Tuesday. Governor Deval Patrick, Secretary Paul Reville, Deputy Commissioner Karla Baehr, Boston superintendent Carol Johnson, and I were members of the interview team. Deputy Commissioner Jeff Nellhaus participated as an alternate. I believe we made a strong showing. Our opening presentation went smoothly, and we were well prepared for the questions we were asked. I left feeling that we put our best foot forward and that our chances for winning this competition are strong. That being said, the competition is tough and the funds available are sufficient for only a subset of states. Decisions are expected to be made early next month, and
we will let you know the outcome as soon as we hear.
Stay tuned for more information. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to contact me or Associate Commissioner Jeff Wulfson.


A couple of things of note there: did you see the "which districts will get funds" part? That would appear to mean that some districts WILL NOT. If this comes back to fully funding Ch. 70, you'll see some districts out of luck. The education-related line items are, I believe, largely these items that the governor cut when he signed the budget. It will have to go back to the Legislature, though, so anything is possible. And on RTTT: I've also heard that there was some close questioning on tying teacher evaluation to student test scores (the ever-popular, yet research-discredited, idea being pushed so hard by the fed) of the Massachusetts delegation. So far, Chester and Reville have been fending the bulk of this bad idea off; we'll see how that plays out in D.C.

UPDATE: The federal DoE is estimating that this will save 2,900 education jobs in Massachusetts. Complete list here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Teach Plus...what?

You may have caught the glowing article in the New York Times about the teachers coming in as a group from Teach Plus to some of Boston's underperforming schools (recall that Boston chose the more draconian "fire at least half the staff and principal" model for some of their schools). The ever-inquisitive Susan Ohanian did some investigating to answer the pressing question: Just who is Teach Plus?
Yes, you can find some familiar names--Gates, Bridgespan, TFA, New Schools Venture Fund--on there, along with Quaker Oats (yes, like the man in the hat).

Parents know if their child's school is a good one

And from the Fall 2010 edition of Educationnext comes the novel notion that parents do, in fact, know if their child's school is a good school or not:
Our results indicate that citizens’ perceptions of the quality of their local schools do in fact reflect the schools’ performance as measured by student proficiency rates in core academic subjects. Although citizens also appear to take into account the share of a school’s students who are poor when evaluating its quality, those considerations do not overwhelm judgments based on information about academic achievement.
So, schools where many of the kids are poor are overjudged as a bad school, but not so much as to overwhelm the judgment based on academics. Note also that the diversity of a school did not have an effect on the perception of the school. Middle schools, however, are judged more harshly than their elementary feeder schools:
-Even after controlling for proficiency rates and other school characteristics, middle schools receive ratings that are, on average, 18 percent of a letter grade lower than comparable elementary schools. In other words, proficiency rates explain some, but by no means all, of the lower perceived quality of middle schools. This finding is of interest given recent research suggesting that middle schools have adverse consequences for student achievement
(I'm beginning to think that "what to do about middle school?" is the question to be asking.)
So it turns out that the old-fashioned "ask the neighbors what they think of the school" method (as well as the newer, online versions of the same thing) isn't such a bad way of judging a school after all!

Federal jobs bill passed

As you no doubt saw, the House of Representatives passed the federal jobs bill yesterday in a special session (all of the Massachusetts House delegation voted in favor), and it was signed by President Obama. Of the $665 million allocated for Massachusetts, the Telegram reports that $75 million will go to state colleges, and $125 million to fully fund Ch. 70.
This is a bit different than I've heard elsewhere, that there was some question as to whether the local allocations would be along Ch. 70 or Title 1 lines. There are some pros and cons to either answer: Title 1 favors high-poverty (usually urban) districts and comes directly from the fed, but it's treated as a grant and so is subject to grant fees. Ch.70 is gets money to more districts, but has to pass town meetings for those with that form of government.
The last estimate I heard was a job per 1000 kids, but if indeed the Governor is fully funding Ch. 70, in Worcester, Ch. 70 was fully funded already.
I'll update as I know more!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Math wars!

We've got a report back on the math curriculum. Monfredo heads this up, and, if I'm understanding him correctly, he has his doubts about the current curriculum (kids need to know whole numbers before they start fractions; kids need to memorize their facts).
He says he's uncomfortable with simply filing this item.
He wants the new accountability officer to look at what we are doing, what works, what doesn't.
(He comments that he used to ask math facts of the kids as he went down the hallway. I just had a flashback to second grade.)
Kids should know the order of operations, and, again, "basic facts."
O'Connell reminds us that there was a middle and high school committee, to look at the fourth year of math in high school, to look at the curriculum..they'd asked that they use the Saxon math program in middle school....suggests they also look at elementary math.
Biancheria says it's across Massachusetts, it's not just here.

Aha! Mulqueen mentions the Common Core standards "sets a new stage for us" he says.
"algebra-ready for eighth grade"...have to backtrack that to kindergarten and project that forward into high school and college
He suggests we need periodic curriculum review as a matter of course.
He says that "by the spring, we should have a pacing guide" on reviewing each curriculum area.

Recess policy

Recess is "held" at the subcommittee level, 'though the policy moves forward to the schools for the fall. You thus will not see it show up in the full committee agenda.

TLSS: recess discussion

The question of how directed play should be
During what temperature range is appropriate (and how are children dressed?)
(Biancheria mentions that we have a coat donation program)
The procedural guidelines include:
  • "unless it is actively precipitating, is at or below 32 or above 90"
  • "Public spaces in proximity to the school, such as parks and public playgrounds may be appropriate substitutions for play space at the school"
  • "The School Committee shall equitably support budgetary requirement of recess for all elementary schools."
Some question from the subcommittee as to when admin should get back to School Committee on how implementation is going and what "needs tweeking"
Note that this policy recommends that mid-day recess be done BEFORE lunch rather than after.

TLSS subcommittee: recess

Among the items on this evening's TLSS subcommittee are a proposed recess policy, consideration of the Level 4 turnaround plans, the math curriculum, and the family involvement plan.
The proposed recess plan reads as follows:

Quality education requires a healthy environment that provides students (K-6) with minimally a total of 30 minutes of recess over the course of the day. The 30 minutes can be divided into shorter breaks and shall include a break at mid-day prior to lunch. Recess is designed for purprose of engaging students in developmentally appropriate activity which promotes learning, social development, and physical health. Structured/unstructured recess shall not be taken away from students as a form of punishment/consequences. Neither shall severe exercise be used as a form of punishment/consequences for students. This time shall not be a substitute for physical education.

The School Principal is responsible for communicating, applying, maintaining, and evaluating the Recess Policy. The School Principal shall review the Recess Policy. The School Principal shall review the Recess Policy with the members of the School Site Council annually and submit results of that review to the Chief Academic Officer in May of each year.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Federal money coming?

(no, not that federal money!)

The Senate voted to suspend debate on the education jobs bill, which means that voting can now go forward. As the vote was a rather decisive 61-38 and included Republican Senators Collins and Snowe, it appears the support for the bill is there.

As the House passed a different version of this bill, the House will have to vote on this version, something which Speaker Pelosi has indicated she will call back the House to do next week.

*and I don't know what this will mean for Worcester.

Monday, August 2, 2010


There are upcoming subcommittee meetings for the Worcester School Committee:
  • Teaching, Learning, and Student Support meets on August 9 at 5:30 pm
  • Governance and Employee Issues meets on August 23 at 4:00 pm
  • Finance and Operations meets on August 24 at 4:00 pm
(I have not heard of an Accountability subcommittee meeting.)
All meetings are the Durkin Administration Building in the fourth floor conference room. The agenda of each will be posted closer to the time.

What got cut?

The Mass Budget and Policy Center has the wrapup on Massachusetts FY11 (as signed). (Here's Ch. 70 and the rest of the ed budget).

Wishing Jeff Barnard well

If you follow Worcester blogs, then you surely are aware of Jeff Barnard, aka Mr. Wormtown Taxi. Jeff's been fighting cancer, and he's been in the hospital.
If you'd like to wish Jeff well, you can fill out the form below (set up by Mike), and we'll see that he gets it (and if you're a blogger and you want the html for the form, get in touch and I'll send it to you!).