Friday, August 29, 2014

Everybody loves education

...during an election.
Take a look at the candidate profiles in Worcester Magazine this week, and nearly every single one cites education, schools, funding for education, or the like as a top priority.
Don't get me wrong--this is great. I would urge those who are voting in those races,thought, to do more than take that at face value. Some of those who are citing those as priorities have an actual record on that as an issue. Does what they have done match what they are saying? Have they advocated and voted for more funding, better facilities, appropriate support for public education?
Some have, and some have not. If they haven't done it yet, putting them in a new position--or continuing them in the one they have--isn't going to fix that.

It's also important to know what you can and can't do in the position for which you're running. The above profiles have at least one candidate for state rep saying he'd fight for a Worcester Public Schools budget that "exceeds the minimum foundation budget." That would be great, but that can only be done at the Worcester City Council. 

...a City Council, just as a reminder, that hasn't done that in years. 

I was more disturbed, though, to come home today to a postcard in my mailbox for the First Worcester District Senate race that said this:

First of all, we do have a school replacement going on in the First Worcester District: Nelson Place School, which has been slated for replacement for quite a number of years, was voted into the MSBA process during the past two years, and is moving along nicely. Assigning credit for such things is always slightly ridiculous, but we certainly have had the support and attention of both Senator Chandler and Representative Mahoney for Nelson Place.
The rest of this is just scurrilous, but not really about the Senator: about the Worcester Public Schools. 
"School buildings with no heat"? News to me. We've had some rooms that have had heating issues (including what I suspect is the target here, at Doherty), but they're worked on and they're dealt with as they happen. We've also been replacing boilers at an impressive clip through the Mass School Building Authority these past years, so we're in better shape on heating than we've been, possibly ever.
"Rodent Infested School Buildings"? Really? Where? That's a health and code issue as well as a custodial issue, and this would be the first I've heard of it. The custodial staff--whose reputation here is being impugned, I'd point out--does not let any sign of any kind of infestation go by them, and they're not the only eyes on the building. As far as I know, this is just made up. If anyone else knows otherwise, they aren't reporting it to the people who can fix it. 

My assumption, 'though this went out to more than just the Worcester section of the First Worcester District, is that this is supposed to be a "you don't have a new Doherty yet" dog whistle. 
So let me--at the ongoing risk of being honest rather than politic--be blunt: we're not going to have a new Doherty for quite some time.
South--which has both open classrooms and an electrical plant under the swimming pool--is our number one priority, and rightfully so. Burncoat High and Middle is in tougher shape than Doherty (not just me saying that). That doesn't even get into the elementary schools that may need replacing during this next few years (which is why we need a facilities master plan). 
We are a single system city: we have a brand-new high school. We've had two new high schools in the past twenty years. Has it been going as fast as it could be? I'd say no. Are we moving along pretty well now? Yes, we are. We can't jump around in our building priorities, though, and not just because it isn't right. We can't because the state knows very well that our highest priority isn't actually Doherty, because it isn't our greatest need. And they pick up 80% of the bill. 
In fact, the fastest way to get a new Doherty is all push together to get the higher priority schools into the MSBA pipeline, and keep them moving. If anyone wants to start working on that, count me in.

Meanwhile, by all means talk about education, better yet, DO things about education, but don't make things up about the Worcester Public Schools. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Nearly missed it!

Go read Mr. Southwick's column today for some Worcester Public Schools history!

About the teacher survey and anonymity

After we had the report last week on the teacher survey, I saw some questions circulating online about the legitimacy of the survey results, given that teachers are asked for their years of experience and the level they teach, which could be used to identify them.
Should that have been holding anyone back, I asked about that, and here's what you should know about the information:
Individuals can feel even more secure about their anonymity being protected because:
*It is not possible to view data by role, years of experience, or any other demographic information at the school or district level.
*Demographic data will only be reported at the state level.
*If the Department decides in the future to make raw data available to districts for further research, demographic information will be removed"
I got this from our Accountability department; it's from the FAQ on the survey.
Worcester doesn't see it, the principals don't see it, and the state only views the results in aggregate (e.g.: they can see that elementary teachers in general said X).
So, please answer, please be honest, and those that have, thank you!

We're barrelling ahead with using test scores to evaluate teachers in Massachusetts

Hey, remember that moment of sanity we all had last week when Secretary Duncan talked about how we were overtesting and that we should wait a year on evaluating teachers based on student test scores?
Yeah, well, that lasted less that a day or two, as Commissioner Chester's weekly update last Friday said that Massachusetts will be barrelling ahead with the "if it matches MCAS, it counts; if it doesn't, we count earlier MCAS" mix n' match we talked about last month:
Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Assistant Secretary Deb Delisle issued guidelines that support the approach DESE has taken. According to the guidelines, states may delay using assessment results in educator evaluations while transitioning to new assessments so long as: 1) states calculate student growth data based on the new assessments, and 2) each teacher of a tested grade and subject, as well as each principal, receives their growth data based on 2014-15 state assessments. 
The Commonwealth's July guidance is designed to parallel the "hold harmless" policy for school and district ratings that the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted in fall 2013. Under the two-year timeline that the Board adopted, districts are choosing whether to administer PARCC or MCAS in 2014-15. Those that administer PARCC will have their accountability level held harmless; that is, their accountability level can rise but not fall because of PARCC results. In fall 2015, based on two years' experience with PARCC, the Board will decide whether to sunset MCAS and adopt PARCC as the new state testing program.
 No, Commissioner, this does not support the approach DESE has taken. The fed proposed WAITING A YEAR, not "holding harmless" schools and districts while moving ahead with questionable calculations for teachers.This is not reasonable, this is not prudent...this isn't good math. It makes no sense.
When, of all people, we have Secretary Duncan saying, "Hey, maybe we've got a lot going on and we should hold off on part," maybe we should consider it?

A few back to school notes

Overall, a good first day! A few back to school notes from me:
  • Did you get one? We have "please update and return" forms for the basic office information this year! That is because parents asked that we work on the number of back to school forms (yes, you ARE heard! And there are still too many.).
  • School lunch costs $1.75 this year.
  • If your child is in secondary school (particularly middle school) and there is not a nearby bus stop, get in touch with the school's assistant principal. We don't stop at everyone's driveways in Worcester, but your child should, if he or she is bused, be able to get to a bus stop safely.
  • Remember that requested supplies are not required! We are not funding school supplies adequately, so if you can help, it's appreciated, but requests for supplies--or for checks to cover classroom supplies--are requests only. And if you're hearing otherwise, please let me know.
  • Yes, some elementary class numbers are high; we did cut 23 elementary positions in this year's budget. The way that the remaining to-be-assigned teachers are placed is largest classes, highest number of kids impacted first (as adding a teacher lowers all class sizes of that grade). There's "a handful" of teachers left to be assigned; we have some elementary classes over 30. And the only way to fix this is to adequately fund education. We don't. 
  • That student handbook your child brought home? Don't just sign and return the back page; give it a read and then hang on to it! 
Please keep the queries coming, and I'll field them as I get them! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Happy first day!


Off they go!
Please watch for kids walking and waiting at bus stops. And when those buses stop, STOP. IN BOTH DIRECTIONS.

Have a great year!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why no universal free lunch?

Because I see the T&G is doing another article on districts doing universal free lunch (and didn't give Ms. Lombardi much space for why Worcester isn't doing it), here's a link to last September's post on why we're not offering universal free lunch.
And the fed has not fixed the issue of kids who aren't signed up for food stamps who qualify for free lunch.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Back-to-school facilities update!

Today's Friday letter is a back-to-school facilities update! In brief:

  • Chandler Magnet is coming back to new windows! ("substantially complete" by the first day)
  • Columbus Park is going to have all boarded up windows done by the start of school; the rest will be finished during second shift work this fall. (Another hold-up at the window factory) The new ramp is in, but it won't have a handrail for the start of school, plus it needs to be clear with Boston before use. The new boilers are in, and the vestibule and bathrooms will be done by school opening.
  • Remember those massive Worcester East Middle School boilers? They have been quite a project! Thus that project is behind schedule. The call on whether the school is put on a temporary boiler for this winter will be made by September 20. And MSBA hasn't gotten back to us yet on the rest of the work there: windows and the interior electrical/plumbing/heating.
  • Worcester Arts Magnet is getting their windows delivered in late September; they'll be installed second shift. The bathroom and vestibule work will be done for back to school.
  • Tatnuck Magnet, likewise, will get their new windows in late September, and they'll go in during second shift. Note that this is expected to impact the branch library there. 
Send along questions if you've got 'em! 


Worcester Public Schools bus routes for 2014-15 are POSTED!

Go check them out! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Discipline policy

Boone: sent out in advance of the agenda
consultation from the City Solicitor, as well
as a result of Legislative action as it relates to suspension and expulsion
Rodrigues: two specific areas that needed to be refurbished: Code of Conduct, and Due Process
to be sure we didn't have any conflicting messages
 Novick: refer whatever is passed to Governance for ongoing community conversation
request quarterly reports to Governance from administration on implimentation
update to language for next year based on experiences
concerns around timeline and process, due to state timelines
PreK-grade 3 suspension should not be happening at all
O'Connell: does not want to make changes:
  • of eliminating "zero tolerance" language; believes this has legal implications; concern with federal civil rights statute
  • Rule 9:excessive tardiness (which administration has recommended eliminating)
  • Rule 10: repeated violations (which administration has recommended eliminating)
Boone: ahead of the curve since 2009, we can maintain "zero tolerance" for certain behavior, we cannot have a one-size-fits all policy. "It is the veil of zero tolerance that has gotten us to this point of overuse of suspension." School Committee has heard previously of students put into court pipeline through "disruption of school assembly" charges. Every charge must be investigated fully individually.
Rodrigues: removal of zero tolerance language is consistent with guidance from US DoE and DoJ. "continued process of this in our handbook may open us up to litigation"
class missed two or more times (or late two or more times) must notify parents per attendance policy now
Ramirez: thank for putting a lot of thought into this in a quick manner
happy to see language from zero tolerance being changed
concern with using "obey" rather than "follow" rules of conduct
extremely happy to see excessive tardiness being taken out; students walk a long distance to get to school
concerns that we may not have answers yet: Gateway City, have many languages, need translation services
what are the options for education (for students suspended)?
Boone: concern on translators has been discussed with principals; shortened time frame challenge, as well
ongoing education: opportunities in place, as we are a larger district, will provide to school committee, both in and out of district
Rodrigues: once a student is suspended for ten consecutive days or more, then alternative education deployed then; through collaboratives, in district, and tutoring
Biancheria: great deal of information here, twelve additional questions, at least here
questions, principals have questions
"the law is the law is the law, and we have to work with it, but let's get it to standing committee"
Foley: support motion to send it to Governance, an awful lot of work to be done here
reflect on the fact that we have reduce our suspensions
"embrance what Mr. Robarge said today about reflecting on these issues"
take a look at the languages and our policies
let's not leave the vague language in there that has caused some of the problems in there
Monfredo: only the first step, has to be the first step
don't want to leave it to the end of the year to make changes
O'Connell: don't want to make changes tonight, but make that part of consideration at subcommittee
vote on O'Connell's motion to retain language on zero tolerance and rules FAILS
vote to approve, as well as send then to Governance PASSES
motion to suspend the rules to reconsider PASSES; reconsideration FAILS
aka: we're going with what was recommended

Secondary class size report: held

report on class size average by teacher at secondary level
Boone: additional questions directed through Dr. Friel?
Biancheria has done so, moves to hold pending additional information

Teacher survey results (TELL-Mass)

to collect perception data on the condition of teaching in the schools
administered initially in 2012
at least 50% of school-based licensed educators in order to access data, and Worcester met that
WPS had 56.3% participation; the state had 48.1%
You can find the results here
"we can draw some generalizations" due to high participation
very good news in nearly every category
facilities "have done some investment and need to continue to invest"
several items related to access to technology
"this year teachers will have a full year of quality technology"
concerns around facilities: "a lot of investment" in these
"one area where the district did not meet or exceed state" level
keeping community involved in student learning
parental engagement: "learning more about what teachers are considering involvement in schools"
88% of those asked in Worcester say their school is safe
teacher leadership "validating teacher leadership and teacher voice"
"how deeply the practices are in getting to the classroom"
Petty: for people who took the survey; was every school over 50%? No. Individual schools get individual data if they're over 50%.
Glad to see teachers and administrators think things are going in the right direction
technology "put funds aside to address that"
parent involvement "you're going to try to see what is going on with that?"
Boone: constant, "great variety of economic diversity in our schools, perception of how parents can best support their children and their individual learnign styles"
immigrant population: in many other countries, educators are regarded as the experts and education happens at school
work at what that means and what that looks like
a number of partners who have are supporting that
Petty: school leadership, seems to be going in the right direction
"overall, it's a good report"
O'Connell: have made progress and are moving in the right direction
have some areas that we can focus on in a very constructive way
technology worries me "spending significant on technology"
need to be aggressive as we can to make the broadband access
parental decision making: "even though we have site councils"
involve teachers as extensively as we can
"have made progress...can make it better still"
Foley "very pleased with the numbers...a place for people with issues to bring up to bring them up"
"always room for improvement in any district"
"have professionals that are working together"
curious on how we do relative to other urban districts: Boone
Novick: professional leadership in particular impressive, when we hear teachers nationally saying that they aren't listened to; respected and listened to locally is important
parent having a role in decision making: site councils are a welcome and needed voice
technology spending necessary and overdue; supplies need more spending as well
Biancheria: principals have access and can relay to their staff (either of building level data or of district data)
technology portion of this: "what we're doing across the city due construction" wiring going in
"are we seeing improvements as the months go by of the machines working correctly and being on?"
Boone: new machines largely coming in after the survey was taken
readiness for school year? absolutely. Most were done before the end of last school year
will be part of opening of school report
Biancheria: have now made investments in technology, hope to see impact
Monfredo: thank admin, positive report
"it's only as good as the follow-up"

Innovation Schools renewals

Boone: sharing progress of initial five innovation schools at that time in May
schools fully review plans, tweaks or adjustments
Rodrigues: data analyze data so far
see if intended goals have made it, or changes that need to be made
questions to principals at length
Novick: sorry, I took the floor first, and I had a bunch of questions; I'll write them up later
O'Connell: is the lottery a change? (for Goddard Scholars, on whose innovation board he sits)
short version, no
O'Connell: gifted and talented practices changes (on Goddard Scholars)
Ryan: past three years, attending
consultants from UConn; "use their model for how it fits our program"
included a lot of guest speakers and college trips
enrichment clusters "deepen our use of Renzuli learning" to further student interestes
there is a service project component at the end of the year
O'Connell: give innovation schools a chance to develop their programs
deference to schools
"in the end decision left up to the schools"
"shining lights of what our schools have to offer"
Boone: "how do we build a preK-12 pathway"
retention of families and children in schools
Monfredo: five schools of eight in the city here tonight; Worcester has more than anyone
professional development as part of the plan
"ask the parents"
"adding in some of the schools a full day preschool program" (note: pending funding)
"let's develop or consider developing another model such as Goddard Scholars"
Biancheria: "not being just an independent unit...'part of a larger community'"
community responsibility, community involvement, positive attitudes
look at the focus of how we move forward as a city and as a community
hearing of best practices and bringing forward to administration
Foley: "school starts next week...want to be sure everyone's ready to go"
"two factors I want to highlight: strong leadership in these schools...what people don't talk about enough is the strong engagement of the faculty"
"I think that's how our schools are successful"
innovation school plan updates approved

States can ask to wait a year on using student test scores to evaluate teachers

Secretary Duncan says they can apply to wait. As this is a ridiculous system to begin with, even setting aside the test switch, it would be a start.
UPDATES: Here's the letter announcing the change. Also, here's Duncan's blog post on this, which talks at length on overtesting, and also opens the possibility of further flexibilities.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Something you can do to help kids in Ferguson

School was supposed to have started for the Ferguson-Florissant Schools last week, then today. It's now been postponed until next Monday.
Two-thirds of the kids in the district receive free or reduced lunch. Having school delayed probably means kids are going hungry. Here's something you can do to help. 

Worcester School Committee meets Thursday, August 21 at 4 pm!

Last summer meeting this year! You can find the agenda here.
First up is the first round of the usual summer retirements, resignations, leaves, transfers, and hires.
We have the results of the annual teacher survey, which is coming in as the report of the Superintendent.
We have a report on the average class size at the secondary level (along with the number of teachers carrying more than 125 students).
As I mentioned earlier, we have several proposed changes to the student disciplinary policy, in response to state changes in regulation. Ms. Biancheria also has sought an answer to what change this makes in School Committee involvement in discipline.
Mr. Foley is publicizing the events of September 6, honoring the 1774 events in Worcester.
Worcester Tech is being given $5000 for their robotics team, for School Committe to receive.
Mr. Monfredo is looking for summer school test results.
He's also asking for an update on the Comprehensive Community Responsibility Framework.
Mr. O'Connell recognizes the 2014 Master Mechanic Award, going to Worcester Tech this fall.
We have the innovation plans for:

They are up for three year approval by the School Committee.
Ms. Biancheria would like a report on A.P. classes.
She'd also like information on  internships.
Mr. O'Connell is asking about computer coding classes being offered.
We're also being asked to approve a prior year payment totalling $1988.32. 

We will have an executive session AFTER the meeting, to get an update on negotiations with our nurses.




Friday, August 15, 2014

NCLB comes home to roost

The talk about complying with NCLB waivers from Secretary Duncan may have caused us to forget: there are states that don't have waivers. Because it is now that magic year in which no child is to be left behind--2014--states that do not have waivers, and are thus still under the law, must have every child testing up to standards or have the schools declared underperforming.
No surprise: nearly all schools are getting that tag.
States and schools aren't simply taking this, though. Vermont's Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe fulfilled the requirement that parents be informed of their schools "low performing" label with this thoughtful letter, disagreeing with this label and discussing what makes for a quality education.
Washington state, which recently lost its waiver due to disagreements over teacher evaluation, likewise has more clear information coming out to parents along with the required notification: 28 superintendents have signed a letter to parents disagreeing with the label.
A number of the states without a waiver are finding that, labels or not, they are freer and more able to move ahead, as they don't have to negotiate with the Department of Education when making decisions.
I'm sure there's a lesson in here somewhere. 

Free Fun Friday!

Today is another Free Fun Friday! Today:

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
Town: Boston
Address: 100 Northern Ave
Hours: 10:00am-9:00pm
Phone Number: 617-478-3100 | Website
Plimoth Plantation*
Town: Plymouth
Address: 137 Warren Ave
Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm
Phone Number: 508-746-1622 | Website
 
Garden in the Woods
Town: Framingham
Address: 180 Hemenway Road
Hours:9:00am-5:00pm
Phone Number: 508-877-7630 | Website
Museum of Russian Icons
Town: Clinton
Address: 203 Union St
Hours: 10:00am-4:00pm
Phone Number: 978-598-5000 | Website
 
Fitchburg Art Museum
Town: Fitchburg
Address: 25 Merriam Pkwy
Hours: 10:00pm-4:00pm
Phone Number: 978-345-4207 | Website
Historic Deerfield
Town: Deerfield
Address: 80 Old Main Street
Hours: 9:30am-4:30pm
Phone Number: 413-775-7214 | Website
Reagle Music Theatre*
Town: Waltham
Address: 617 Lexington St
Hours: Performance begins at 7:30pm
Phone Number: N/A | Website

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Subcommittee meetings coming up!

  • Governance and Employee Issues meets next Tuesday, August 19, at noon.
  • Teaching, Learning, and Student Supports meets Tuesday, September 2 at 5: 30 pm.
Both meetings in the 4th floor conference room at the Durkin Administration Building. 

Proposed discipline policy changes

At next week's meeting, the Worcester School Committee will be considering a proposed series of changes to the discipline policies in the student handbook. This is in response to the new regulations from the state.
Note: contrary to what GoLocal reported today, these are proposed changes; there are no changes until they're voted by the School Committee. 
I've only done a preliminary review, but I'm uneasy about a number of the changes proposed (quite aside from what's necessary due to the change in regulation), as it doesn't appear to me that we're really tackling what the point of the regulations changes were.
You can find the letter with the legal overview here. The code of conduct (with proposed changes) is here. The legal policies are here.
While they are not policy changes, we also have been notified of a number of new letters and forms: notice of disciplinary charges to parent/guardian;  notice of in-school suspension; notice of short-term suspension; notice of long-term suspension; emergency temporary removal letter; and notice to the superintendent (from a principal) of the intent to suspend a pre-kindergarten to third grade student.
Please take a look at them and let us know what you think.
As always, you can get me at novickt (at) worc.k12.ma.us or all of us at SchoolCommittee (at) worc.k12.ma.us. Alternatively, the meeting at which this will be discussed is at 4pm Thursday, August 21 at City Hall. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Back to School information

...is now posted on the district website.  A few highlights:
  • Students in grades 1 through 12 go back to school on Wednesday, August 27. 
  • Kindergarten and preschool students start on Tuesday, September 2. Kindergarten students will be screened at their schools on August 27-29 by appointment. If you don't have an appointment yet, call the school (list of schools and phone numbers here) after August 18.
  • Lunch and breakfast will be served on the first day. Note that full priced lunch has increased in price this year to $1.75. 

What are you doing September 7?

Why not come help celebrate Worcester (and Worcester County)'s early role in the revolt against the British Crown?
Nearly eight months before the American War of Independence began with the battles of Lexington and Concord, 4,622 militiamen from 37 towns of Worcester County marched down Main Street in Worcester, shut down the Crown-controlled county courthouse and, for the first time ever in the American colonies, effectively overthrew British authority. The date was September 6, 1774 — nine months before Lexington and Concord. Not a shot was fired.
It was Worcester County's militiamen that set the stage. Revolts followed in every single county in Massachusetts outside Boston in the fall of 1774 as a result. It was these revolts that truly ended British rule in the colony and opened the door for citizens to form their own government. The following spring, when General Gage wanted to retaliate against Worcester, his spies warned him not to attack there, where arms and powder were stored and where patriots were too strong. He decided to go after Concord instead.
No one is sure why this story has been untold for so long, but Worcester Revolution of 1774 is out to change that. Across downtown Worcester where the event happened 240 years ago, the American Antiquarian Society, First Congregational Church, Institute Park, North Main Street, Rural Cemetery, Salisbury Mansion, The Oaks, and Tuckerman Hall will be filled with stories, dramatic presentations, children's activities, period craftsmen, colonial militia, interpreters, historical documents, and a reenactment of the Worcester Revolution itself.
They could use help, too!

Summer week links round-up

Summertime, so I'm not posting as often. Some things you might like to read:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Nelson Place School Public Hearing

Monday, September 15, 2014, 7:00 – 9:00pm
Location: Nelson Place School Cafeteria

This meeting is an opportunity for the School Building Committee and the Public to review and comment on Schematic Design development.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Three new Mass Board of Ed members

Sorry for posting a bit late on this: I've been on the road today.
Governor Patrick has appointed three new members to the Board of Ed, to fill the seats left by those whose terms expired in June.
Margaret McKenna, who currently serves as a member of the (appointed) Boston School Committee, is being appointed as chair of the Board of Ed. She was most recently president of the Walmart Foundation, 'though she served as president of Lesley College and as Deputy Undersecretary in the Department of Ed in the Carter Administration.
Katherine Craven, best known to us as former CEO of the Mass School Building Authority, is being appointed to the business seat. She currently is the Chief Administrative Officer at Babson.
Mary Ann Steward, former president of the Massachusetts PTA and member of the Lexington School Committee, is being appointed to the PTA seat.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Regarding tonight's ED talk

I did an ED (yes, like a TED) talk tonight at the MTA's summer conference. I'll post the video once it's up.
I was asked for my notes on my talk tonight. I don't really have any.
The letter I quoted from was written September 2, 1755, and, thanks to the Adams estate, you can find it online here. In my work, I called this talk "the Gloomy Paedagogue," and, if you read the whole letter ninteen-year-old John Adams wrote to his friend Richard Cranch, you'll see why.
Most of the information about Adams is available either from his letters (if you poke around above, you'll find more) or from the biographies (I read several!) out there. I will say that I developed a real affection for Adams through putting this together: from his stubborn young insistence on being a farmer, to his loneliness in Worcester, through his sharp assessment of his own (and others') abilities and the overwhelming task before them at the Revolution. Really, really interesting man.
The other passage is simply Chapter V, Section II of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If you haven't read the state constitution, I highly recommend it! In particular, though, if you're involved in education in Massachusetts, take a look at Chapter V, Section II (which you can also find at the bottom of the blog). It's what we're supposed to be about "for the preservation of their rights and liberties."

Sabrina Stevens: Cornerstones of Democracy (notes)

I'm a speaker tonight at the MTA Summer Institute, which means as a bonus I get to hear Sabrina Stevens, who is their keynote (lucky me!). Posting as we go..
Public education as cornerstone of democracy

A bit about unemployment

Given yesterday's T&G article about unemployment, two points about the Worcester Public Schools:
  •  Worcester Public Schools employees who are school year only, like bus drivers and crossing guards, are given "a reasonable assurance of return" in the fall, and as such are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Thus the bit in the article about that doesn't apply to Worcester.
  • In FY11, mentioned in the article, the Worcester Public Schools laid off 140 employees. When we lay off employees, we reimburse the state for unemployment. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Municipal fiber

If you're wondering what the heck I was talking about on Thursday night when I brought up "municipal fiber" with regards to internet access, here's Chattanooga,TN, for example, that did just that. And here's their mayor and their network CEO doing an Ask Me Anything on reddit.
I'm not saying it's the answer, but I think we should talk about it. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

A bit more on bus ads

My attention has been called to this opinion piece in the Boston Globe from earlier this year, quoting our own John Hennessey:
The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services denounced bus ads in 2011 for safety reasons. “Advertising, if it’s effective, draws attention to the ads” and away from disembarking children, John Hennessey, Worcester’s transportation director and past president of the Massachusetts Association of Pupil Transportation, told me.