Tuesday, April 28, 2015

K-12 Board of Ed ON HOLYOKE

Blogging to start once the meeting does
Sagan clarifies that public testimony is being taken on everything other than Holyoke, since Holyoke was taken last night. Sagan comments that 65 people spoke last night.

"exceptional meeting last night in Holyoke..going well past the time allotted"
"hearing from a wide variety of opinions"
"very difficult decision on behalf of the young people in the community"
Board has looked at many pieces of information
"struck by outpouring of opinion and diversity of opinion in the community"
"I don't believe that that's true" (removing democratic aspect)
Leg "said we need to add some dimension to the aspects of the control"
Level 5 schools and districts of schools where too many children have failed
"many, many comments that were helpful to this Board"
two that resonated for me: half of kids of 2015 didn't make it to graduation
another took rest of her children out
note that there were possibly five speakers in favor of receivership; he just quoted two
someone told him afterward that they could more than fill the hall with the kids that didn't graduate

Peyser: crystal clear to me that people in that room cared about their city and their children
"will stand city in good stead"
three basic arguments:
argues that local control is a means to an end (of education)
ultimate control ultimately belongs to the state under Constitution (he says)
argument that current superintendent doing well: state can "accelerate change and improvement"
Lawrence: energy and resources (but not dollars and cents)
"empowerment of school leadership and staff"
"a more authentic" version of local control
schools doing best can: incumbent on state to engage with Holyoke on human development
"improve and deepen our commitment" to public ed
poverty overcome by poverty
"recognize district needs more capacity than it can provide itself"

Chester: one of first meetings was in Holyoke
extraordinary authority in particular cases where low performance is consistent and pervasive
"been very engaged in Holyoke"
when I look at Holyoke, "I can't say that we're any better off"
"when we look at outcomes for young people...we are systematically leaving a large proportion to a.. future that doesn't hold a lot of promise. And that's distressing to me."
not a criticism of any of people in Holyoke: "many strong educators in Holyoke"
"indictment of system in Holyoke, which despite the resources that it has is not able to knit together a strong pathway to a bright future"
"unfortunately the majority of students in Holyoke are not getting an education" that's enough
literacy results have slid backwards in the last year
13-15% of students scoring proficient
"for me, it's not the test scores, it's what the evidence that our kids are reading well or can write"
"when you disaggregate them, it's very uneven"
operates two high schools: didn't hear anyone from Dean Technical last night (which is already run by the state)
percentage of students educated at Dean higher sped, ELL
"we don't make a plan and then vote receivership; receivership triggers a process"
"with the help of that input" develop a turnaround plan
mass firings "that's not at all what will happen"
everyone reapply for their jobs
"you have to be willing to help us rethink business as usual"
"there's a very positive buzz based in part on the work we've done in Lawrence: and based on receivership "being expeditious"
"Holyoke has a challenge with its image right now; receivership is not going to damage a strong image"
receivership may offer a lot of hope for a lot of families; "it's not a stigma"
challenges leadership "some of which is in the room" says it depends on how they present it
"possibilities and opportunities for young people from the most dire of circumstances are just too limited"
reassure parents that students will graduate, colleges will take them, AP courses will still be offered
"for a community that I just don't see on an upward trajectory"
"Should the Board vote for receivership, your children will benefit"

Doherty intends to vote against: "strips away collective bargaining rights and due process rights"
to set those arguments aside: "What I do think should carry weight is what happened last night."
scores of people testified; don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that at least 90% of people opposed receivership
"they do support their superintendent"
new plan may derail and put off improvements that have been made
community has asked for more time; receivership should be last resort, "and I don't think we've reached that last resort"
think we should give them them the more time they need
"the public delivered a very strong message"
"What is the purpose of a public hearing if we're not going to listen to the public? It almost makes these public hearings a charade"

Willyard: if it were 18 months ago, I would be for receivership
"the district is now turning around its own"
"We should support this"
made over 10% in a positive direction
"it's an improvement"
disagreed with at least one aspect of review: seeing technology on the ground; led to doubts on the review
"only one member visited Holyoke along with me"

Calderón-Rosado: leaning to recievership; arrived last night with open mind
was willing to be convinced 
a non-native speaker of the language; every time heard people complaining or blaming poverty, "my heart sank"
product of devoted teachers, taught school
mother of two Latino boys: 78% Latino, 28% ELL, about half not graduating high school
"cannot find a reasonable excuse for that to happen"
most of children she works with meet descriptions; none are excuse to not to well by them
biggest disappointment and horror of the evening was offensive, condescending and even racist remarks about children of Holyoke

McKenna: asks what's going on between third and tenth grade reading scores
Chester: standards are on tenth grade "are not as strong against grade level as third grade"
something which was never said before we were talking about PARCC
some of that is attrition rate
McKenna: 15% to over 70% is a huge jump
McKenna: can you talk about Dean? DESE has had a series of receivers "and it has not been a success"
Chester: Dean continued to struggle in third year (among first to be declared Level 4)
partnered with local collaborative; got no traction, parted way
introduced Project Grad...not getting much assurance of a way forward here
McKenna: nothing in report about charter schools
DESE doesn't have information in front of him, but charter was renewed with no conditions

Morton: wanted to be convinced that receivership was not the right option
wants to support Paez in leadership
wanted to hear the voices of the voiceless; saw only 16 Latinos of speakers
"know that children growing up in poverty can succeed"
"hoping that I was going to hear from those parents...there were 1200 people there but not those folks"
needs of those who are unserved: "a moral imperative"
feels that best practices of Paez will find their way into the hands of the receiver
"poverty was discussed a lot last night...used as an excuse"

Roach: idea last night the role of the Board
"things changed in 1993...remarkable change in our ability to provide resources" to districts
"conditions that require additional assistance, rightfully so"
Chapter 70 comes through our budget..line item in our budget
"to say that we're going to provide these resources and not have an interest isn't real"
to suggest that we're not providing enough of the resources, "that really raises a question wouldn't agree with"
"if I were in Holyoke, I wouldn't want it either, and if I thought it were going to be what was being presented last night, I wouldn't want it."
"empathize" with them
"do have positive momentuum going"
as a principal "did really want to see the academy intact"
stories of children who came out of Holyoke very successful
saw that high school graduates "were doing all right"
"that is no longer the case...that is simply no longer the case"
prepare them for a world that is very different than the world that I saw as a principal
"all those things we have to do so much better, not just in Holyoke, but everywhere"
believes that vocational school exists to preserve the academy at Holyoke High
"I don't like doing this, I don't like receivership, but there is a larger purpose here."

Craven: noted diversity that we heard from
"a very passionate crowd"
"not without trepidation that any of us approach this today"
some of the things I heard last night about how residents are receiving this Board
"hoping that some of the comments that aren't indemic throughout there"
"to separate out some of the reality of that from what's pure emotion"
don't think any of us would vote for this just based on test scores
tools that Board can provide
"accelerating improvement" of Paez
tools at disposal
"antiquated way of thinking about these issues" about poverty and ELL students
"troubled about hearing from individual children that teachers that they love will be taken away from them"
"devil is in the details...must have some local support...clear consistent communication"
"been around government enough...to know that fears of residents and their tax rate are very real"
"I hear Holyoke when" they express concerns
one of biggest mistakes that can be made is not listening to local voices
urges creation of local business board to consult
perception is reality; clear communication
need someone with proven track record for receiver
"hoping that this can be seen not as a hostile takeover, but a partnership"

Noyce: build on what Katherine said on pride and responsibility
heard a lot of pride from citizens
pride tended to be presented in terms of "my kids did well, I did well"
"there didn't tend to be a lot of pride in all doing well"
Holyoke has a lot of changes in demographics
"I think it's a divided city"
responsibility: "grand bargain...much more going to poor cities and town in return for improved performance"
"patient is still not well"
"all of us bear responsibility for that"
graduation up, not much else
"fear in community that these things that they are proud of" will be lost
"no reason that should happen" (tell that to the dual language program in Boston)
changes "if they penatrate
"offers a chance for community to step back, take a breath, and recommit"
asks if homeless are being dumped on Holyoke or are part of Holyoke (possibly both)

Stewart: every time I talk to someone about Holyoke, another layer gets pulled back
"when I saw the schools and I saw the classrooms, and I spoke to teachers and students"
"I think I expect some low morale and not well-maintained buildings and some tiredness...and I could not have been more surprised"
"a little disappointed to hear that [only one of colleagues]" visited schools
could not make a decision otherwise
Paez: "We need urban solutions to urban problems"
"A lot of us live in the suburbs, and the Department has a suburban approach when it comes to schools"
"the superintendent gets it"
"That we can't turn on a dime after seeing evidence in the last eighteen months...the work is being done, it's happening"
need cultural competency
needs a holistic approach...much more engagement from administration
"heard a lot about us and them"
"the only 'us' should be adults and the only 'them' is our kids...and they're our kids"

McKenna will vote yes "with great concern"
Poverty is not an excuse but it is an issue (and she lists them)
"going into Holyoke and thinking that this is just a longer day...." (and she trails off)
doing away with bilingual program "turns schools into pretzels"
Process has not been the best in terms of the timing of Holyoke
"This is not just a school problem; this is a whole community problem"

NOTE: Two of three votes in opposition are those who visited the schools.

Sagan: "have learned a great deal over last few months"
praises Paez, work done, "should be done of that"
work "needs to be continued and accelerated"
"and the work of the School Committee and the mayor who clearly want great schools"
"but I don't think that's enough"
learned a great deal from other Board members, agree with a great deal of it, disagree with some of it
last night "was a data point"
"not the whole community"
heard voices that we didn't hear from them
"there is improvement, but it's just way, way too little for me"
don't accept that children and their families can't do well because they don't speak English or they're poor or they're homeless
"Can find communites with less wealth, more families who don't speak English, and they are gaining more ground"
meeting and getting to know chilren from outside of Massachusetts who have succeeded due "to changes in the school environment"
"even without addressing those things...I see lives being changed"
"when it's a question: the adults or the kids? Not a question: it's the kids."
opportunity to work with community WILL VOTE YES

Sagan calls the question: "do declare the Holyoke Public Schools to be underperforming"
Vote is 8-3, Willyard, Stewart, and Doherty in opposition

Willyard asks that the Board have final approval of the receiver on Commissioner's recommendation
as Board "has delegated large amount of responsibility to Commissioner"
Chester citing law allows Commissioner to appoint receiver
Chester arguing time may not allow, people may not want to apply
Legal council confirms Chester's interpretation; law appoints to Board
Board adopted regulations that Commissioner appoints
Sagan: "I don't think there's room under them"
Legal: Board could amend that recommendation
Sagan: "don't think that's on the table today"
Sagan now giving us a diatribe about why no one should do this

Peyser is sure that the Commissioner will consult with Board members
Willyard yields

McKenna: who is in charge now?
Chester will appoint himself temporary receiver; someone on the ground 24/7
Holyoke is to make NO contractual, budgetary or other decisions effective immediately
and that's a wrap

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