Tuesday, November 25, 2014


and here we go...
Commissioner: "have gotten quite a bit of testimony"
"you know what my recommendation is today"
recommending that you grant the waiver
"intertwined policies and regulations came together in a way that...I certainly didn't anticipate"
"know the process the Board has used over the past year to better align with the system the state uses ...to determine bottom 10%" with state accountability system
request to review and reverse, or to waive
"there are probably few things that the Board has done that has been more public" than that change in regs
thinks that plain reading is correct one (to sum), arguing against the three main assertions made by charter proponents
"I don't think there's any procedural error on the part of the Board...do think that there is a basic fairness"
"so that this application can be reviewed on its merits"
"just letting this application go through the review process"
"ultimately you will be decide if the applicant has met the high bar" for charters
first time state has only two applicants for bottom 10% of districts
"a district that all other things being equal does not need a cap lift...have this because of the collision of the statutory provision"
"waive any provision in exceptional circumstances"
waive amendments from last year
if you do, would roll forward under previous regulations
"narrow set of circumstances...not setting a precedent"
"not reaching any conclusion on the strength of this application, would just allow application to go foward on its merits"
"have great respect for work going on in city of Brockton"
"not based on any calculus that Brockton is somehow not getting the job done"
"final point I would make to the Board is...you could consider proposing making changes in statute"
He suggests that having the bottom 10% applications needed first may need to be changed (Gee, thanks, Commissioner!)
Wulfson (Deputy Commissioner): reviews what was known when changes were made
"in hindsight...I wish we had...recommended that they be made...the following application cycle...I think if we had done that...everyone would have just nodded and said 'that seems fair'"

Penny Noyce: "if we grant this waiver, will this affect the calculation for the bottom 10% for other purposes for this year?"
No "only used for charter" applications
Donald Willyard: "if we're going to talk about the language and how it's plainly stated...as a means of prioritization..." Intent of law is to establish charter schools, not to prevent the establishment
waviers granted by us on what we deem exceptional
"not based on merits of New Heights" "give them a chance to have them show us what they have"
Mary Ann Stewart: Board received numerous and compelling written testimony
"I'm not convinced by the explanation we've been given"
"I don't feel that we should be changing anything at this point"
Chernow "pretty much all...agree on history of what happened"
charter association was notified on change of calculation's impact on which communities would be in or out
"I don't think that there's been a secretive process or one that's been extremely public and transparent"
"many times we've been faced with issues...where we want to give someone a chance,...but the regs say 'no'"
Have never waived regs in that time
Level 5 schools, Gloucester charter school, "we didn't waive that"
"I have a problem...we all operate in a very complex world...I don't see how we as a board can say at this point that we're going to waive this regulation, or statute---and I didn't know you could waive a statute--and go forward"
"I think it would create a tremendous questioning of this Board"
"we set a standard...for what indicates school improvement"
To say to Brockton "you did what we said" but we're going to go back on that, isn't fair
"Labels are very important"
cannot support waiver request
back to Noyce: "basically in favor of choice for parents"
vote on growth was taken as anti charter; growth means that individual students are doing better over time
"All of that said I have to agree with Harneen, to turn around and tell Brockton 'oh, you're in the bottom 10% this year' is a mistake"
concerned about citation of 10% in law
McKenna: going to vote in favor of this, and for a very narrow reason: DESE knew impact of change of determining who was in the bottom 10%
we knew Brockton would fall out: we did not make that determination until October
"had an obligation to enforce the law"
"we did not realize"
Comes about because of timing, changed the definition in June
Wulfson clarifies no identification of bottom 10% until fall due to MCAS scores coming out in fall
McKenna "we had a pretty good idea of what that list was going to look like after March"
Roach: "would be my preference to vote against the waiver"
partly because of energy and effectiveness of their programs
also as a response to the disingenuousness of their arguments in the spring
"not my habit to reward for bad behavior"
"if this is the price of doing this a year early, I'm willing to pay it"
Impacted 67000 kids in a positive way, twice as many kids as are served by the charter schools
"my senses...that the fair thing to do is let them proceed"
"I"m not particularly happy about it"
"one time, one time only, an exception"
Chernow: I understand the concern for fairness, I'm concerned about equity for Brockton, Brockton falls into bottom 10%
"they did what we asked them to do, for them to fall into bottom 10% because others didn't isn't equitable"
Chester says that it "defers for a year" the weighting of growth
Chernow: "with all due respect, waiving the growth formula for a year means we're retaining the current 80/20 percent...these lowest applicants need to be in the lowest 10%...we're basically telling Brockton you're in the lowest ten percent"
McKenna asks for legal council opinion, as thought only giving a narrow exception
Legal council: waives calculation of lowest 10% for purpose of awarding charters only, would substitute previous means of calculation only for the placement of charters in this year
aka: YES
McKenna: "that was not my understanding"
Legal council: law requires lowest 10% calculation, Board cannot waive that
McKenna: can't we just make an exception to the regulation?
Legal: only way you can do that is to waive the regulation, you still need to calculate the lowest 10%
McKenna: publishing a new list of schools in bottom 10% is not what she thought would be happening
Wulfson: no way to go around that, have to recalculate bottom 10% as legally required
Chester: "I don't know why we would have to publish anything"
couldn't the Board ask us to figure out if Brockton qualifies under previous calculation?
Legal council: yes, but you'd have to do it for everyone
Craven: what would this look like?
McKenna: motion on floor
Wulfson: suggest change the word to calculate from publish
We've having a quick conversation here about FOIA requests
Chernow: Brockton and every other district should know, not just Brockton
Willyard: "would be okay with it, if it were just for" this
"in no other light would Brockton be the bottom 10%"
Chuang: Brockton in 10% if only on achievement basis, not including growth
Chester: could you clarify?
Chuang: pulling up list of Excel spreadsheet that has both lists, achievement only and growth included
"wouldn't be publishing something that isn't already public"
"only weighed on achievement factors...talking about information that's already available"
Malone: "Very very interesting conversation"
"aside from my family, my children...there is nothing I'm more proud of than Brockton being right here" (out of 10%)
"there's one person sitting at this table who fought like hell against a charter in Brockton and took the arrows in the back"
"never want to support people like that'
"was prepared to come here today to support the waiver"
Department needs to get itself together to get a vote
"because I'm leaving this job, I can maybe say things in this job that wouldn't otherwise..."
"if we could fix the formula we wouldn't have this fight, people!"
"this confluence is a technical issue because someone fell asleep at the switch"
"the problem with rank order is that we have these conversations"
"when the other motivation is to stay out of the bottom ten percent, what have we done for our industry?"
"confused against what this does for the ranking, but I'm not against moving ahead with what happens when this goes forward or not"
"I will say to you that my free advice is to table this issue and come back with better advice"
"if Board moves to vote tonight, I would vote in favor of waiver"
"I'm conflicted, because the easy thing for me to do is to say 'hell, no'...but what's the right thing to do"
Noyce: "I think we've discussed this well and bring it to vote"
change 'publish' to 'determine' and take the vote
request by Mary Ann Stewart that it be put on the screen, to which Secretary Malone suggests opening Word and typing, which is what is happening
Chernow points out that how lowest 10% is determined has to voted by Board
Craven: wants to know impact of vote : waiving reg or law?
McKenna; waiving regulation for this purpose only, for this year only
Craven: "legislative intent doesn't matter...want to make sure words meet the intent"
That the BESE, in accordance with 603 CMR 1.03(2), herby waive the amendments to 603 CMR 1.04(9), as adopted by the Board on March 25, 2014; the Board further directs the Commissioner to determine a ranking of districts based on the criteria in said regulations prior to adoption of said amendments solely for the purpose of determining whether the New Heights Charter School of Brockton application submitted in the 2014-15 application cycle may proceed; provided that this wavier shall apply only to applications for Commonwealth charter schools submitted during the 2014-15 application cycle
Stewart: "just want to go back to where I started when I came in...precisely for these kinds of reasons"
"the unintended consequences you will not know"
"this is a bad idea because there are too many unknowns...an hour in on the agenda, it's still unclear"
even thought everyone had a very clear idea coming in
"too much time has passed, too much has happened"
"impact is going to be felt in ways that we're not going to be happy about"
VOTE on amendment: passes
Chernow: back to previous: straight achievement
"all those districts that moved out this year are back to the bottom 10%, then"
McKenna: would narrow that significantly...is that not true?
Chernow: "there won't be any request or any listing...not used for any accountability purposes"
"this means that Fitchburg can't come back and request that they be part of this"
comment from crowd "until they come back"
Malone: motion to table
"I don't like doing business like this, I don't like treating my board like this, I know you're not my board, but I don't think we should do this this way...unbecoming of effective board"
motion to table: fails
McKenna; "gotten clearer and narrower"
Motion passes, 7-3 [Chernow, Stewart, and Noyce opposed] (updated: it was Noyce as the third no)

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