Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Delegates Assembly at MASC

Each year, the Mass Association of School Committees has a Delegates Assembly, where all member committees may send a representative. Resolutions proposed by committees or by the board are considered to set the priorities of the MASC for the following year.
You can find the text of the resolutions proposed here. Most passed either as proposed ((2,3, and 6, which was proposed by Worcester) or with minor changes (1 and 4). Resolution 7 did have a substantive change.
I won't post on all of the back-and-forth on all of it (which I was involved in, which is why this is a post-post!), but a few things that might be of general interest.
  • Resolution 3 on charter schools calls for strict regulatory action by DESE. 
  • Resolution 6 (put forward by Worcester, among others, on unfunded mandates) had strong support from across the test. I'd say we hit a nerve.
  • Resolution 7 was amended to include the phrase " to re-examine Common Core standards and PARCC" in the directive to DESE. 
UPDATE: putting text of Resolutions 3, 6, and 7 after the jump:
Resolution 3: Passed on a voice vote
Whereas charter schools continue to be a source of controversy throughout the Commonwealth,and

Whereas most of the controversy centers on discriminatory recruitment, retention, suspension and expulsion of charter schools, and

Whereas the current charter school funding and finance systems imposes a significant burden to cities and towns whose students enroll in charter schools,

Therefore be it resolved that MASC call upon the legislature to enact charter school reform legislation that will include provisions that:

Require BESE to consider the social and economic impact upon the district from which new or expanding charter schools would recruit students.

Require a strong provision to prevent skimming and suspensions from charter schools that return students whom they no longer wish to enroll to the sending districts.

Finance reform so that charter school expropriations from local Chapter 70 funding do not severely damage the sending districts.

Require timely reporting on accountability with meaningful data on student attendance, expulsions and suspensions, students at economic risk (low income) in comparison with sending districts.

Establishment of benchmarks to measure success.

Establishment of a formula for evaluating school districts that uses a "growth" component that is not less than 50% of the formula.

Require on an annual basis the reporting of best practices and innovation to the sending school districts.

Resolution 6: Passed by a voice vote
Whereas it is the duty of the school committee to set policies for the education of the children in our community; and
Whereas the number of documents that require action by local school disricts in response to externally imposed mandates and regulations has increased dramatically without a clear positive impact on student learning, and
Whereas many of the required actions constitute an unfunded mandate, and
Whereas as reported by MASS Executive Director Tom Scott, based on information available on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website, between 1996 and 2008 (13 years), there was a total of 4,055 documents (312 on average per year) that required action by local school districts in response to externally imposed mandates and regulations, yet that number increased drastically to a total of 5,382 documents (an average of 1077 per year) between 2009-2013.
Whereas educators in our community and state, including the MASS (Mass Association of School Superintendents) have expressed concern about the difficulty carrying out their responsibilities due to this rising tide of state mandates, , requiring educators to respond first to bureaucratic requirements rather than classroom instruction;
Therefore be it resolved that MASC calls on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to refrain from adding new test mandates and other initiatives and to revisit the mandates already imposed on districts with a view to reducing interference with classroom instruction, thus allowing educators to do their work.

Resolution 7: Passed by on a vote of 69-21-3 as amended

Whereas many districts have expressed immense concern relative to our state’s evaluation instruments, and

Whereas assessing student achievement is important to all school districts.

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education re-examine Common Core standards and PARCC and conduct further examination of options for a state evaluation and accountability system and to substantially involve educators and school committee members in the process of choosing an assessment instrument, and to refrain from committing to any instrument before this process is complete.

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