Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Board of Ed summary

Here's the short version that I sent out to MASC yesterday:
...the main upshot of today’s Board of Ed meeting is that all of the charter items passed: new charters in Brockton and Springfield, additional seats in Boston and Everett, and renewed charters in Springfield and Boston (a Horace Mann). You can find my notes on public testimony here, notes on DESE’s annual report to the Legislature on charters here, the deliberation and vote on new charters notes here, the deliberation and vote on new seats notes here, and the deliberation on renewal notes here. The Board also renewed the certificate for Greenfield Virtual, which isn’t exactly a charter (and they’re discussing how they’re going to manage virtuals).

The Board also got a (brief) update on FY17, voted the new college and career readiness standards (including civics), and got an update on assessment.

A couple of impressions and notes:
  • ·       Several Board members clearly stated that they did not think taking into consideration the impact charters have on districts was under their purview, and thus dismissed such testimony from their own consideration.
  • ·       Boston now is adding 1000 seats to their charters. I’ve seen informal estimates that puts that at around $20M they’ll be looking at.
  • ·       Commissioner Chester stated several times that he did not at all see the consideration of Brockton’s charter as a question of Brockton’s public schools, ‘though he also said he hadn’t considered the question of actual need for the charter, when this was raised by Margaret McKenna.
  • ·       McKenna also raised the question of the qualifications of the charter proponent in Springfield (five years out of college, limited experience, no formal learning in educational leadership).
  • ·       Secretary Peyser asserted that there had been unprecedented investment and increased quality in public education during the time during which charter schools have existed in Massachusetts; he connected this to competition.
  • ·       During the discussion of MLK charter, Chester commented that if the test scores did not improve, he’d be back with a recommendation that the charter be pulled. This was met with an outcry by the Board (started by Donald Willyard), who agreed that they had clearly said in their vote that no losses in level (and, one assumes, losses of charters) could happen based SOLELY on this year’s test scores. Michael Moriarty went so far as to say that he would reject any such recommendation from the Commissioner. I would assume this would equally apply to district schools. 

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