Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Top ten (plus?) read posts of 2019

As we close out the year, I did one of my periodic checks of the analytics to see what you all have been reading around here in 2019.
As always, far and away the most read is the front page, whatever it happens to be. I'm still stunned/amazed/impressed at how many of you simply swing by to see what is on the front page without coming in from anywhere in particular or to see anything in particular. Frankly, this is what pushes me to be faithful in posting (and makes me feel guilty when I am not!). I will continue to endeavor to make sure you have something to read when you come by!

So to the top ten actual posts:
  1. It sometimes happens that someone about whom I have had reason to blog hits the news for some other reason, and the magic of Google will take people here. So it was when Rhode Island selected one of the finalists for Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, Angélica Infante-Green, for their own new Commissioner of Education back in March. Google turned up my liveblog of her interview for the Massachusetts position in January of 2018, and Rhode Islanders came here to read what she'd said then. While the big news out of Rhode Island has been the state takeover of the Providence schools, she hasn't held back on other (in some cases, related) issues, including teacher diversityracism, and the needs of English learners. One hopes she is heard on the need for accompanying resources

  2. I am still angry about this, particularly as I see victory laps from his office, so let's not forget this post from October 3, calling out Governor Baker's blatant attempt to sink the Senate's passage of the Student Opportunity Act. It's the second most read post this year. Thank you to everyone who read it, everyone who shared it, everyone who got it, and everyone who remembers.
    This is why the Senate for certain and this year the House (and prior years, everyone in the House who fought for full implementation) gets credit from me, but short of the single "proof it happened" photo, you're not going to see me given Governor Baker credit for his signature. He tried to sink the bill. I will not forget that.

  3. Demonstrating that those interview liveblogs just keep on giving, Tennessee appointed Penny Schwinn, who had been the third finalist for Massachusetts Commissioner, Education Commissioner in January, and her interview liveblog was the third most read blog post. Schwinn was told by lawmakers to slow down changes in Tennessee's accountability system; I am confused how this would work: "Schwinn has mentioned a 'best-of model' as one option, allowing schools to choose whether they want to be evaluated mainly on growth or on proficiency." Tennessee til now had emphasized student growth in their measures.
    This coming year, Tennessee will be among the states implementing a voucher program (do read Jennifer Berkshire on this!). Gosh, best wishes, Tennessee!

  4. Back in February, the Worcester School Committee--finally--took up sex ed after twists and turns in which the only positive upshots were that Bill Shaner's coverage of it got an award and the entire field of candidates for the Worcester School Committee committed to comprehensive sex ed* in the new term. My post on reviewing the then-proposed Michigan model is here.

    *whatever that means, as I said on 508: A Show About Worcester back in May. I guess that is part of what we'll find out this coming year!

  5. This was--hurrah, hurrah!--the year we finally, finally, finally got the foundation budget overhauled, and so the filing of Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz and Representative Aaron Vega and Mary Keefe's Promise Act is the "five golden rings" (da-da-da-dat) of this year's top ten. I have to be honest: the Legislature made me work for it this year, what with explaining how the Boston piece worked here, what the possible holdup was on negotiations around the bill (it looks like maybe I was kind of right?), and chasing down the pieces of the final Student Opportunity Act (see number 10). I know I learned a lot: I hope some of you did, too!

  6. Bringing us back to the reason why I started the blog in the first place--you're never going to get everything in a newspaper article!--the sixth most read post was the liveblog of the Worcester Doherty building committee meeting at which they were to vote a preferred option and didn't. This was the one at which the Chandler Magnet community showed up and reminded folks that that wasn't empty space over on Chandler Street.
    Don't forget that lesson.

  7. One of the things about which I was reminded this spring was this: Worcester, for all that we are sometimes insular, plays on a pretty big stage. When the second largest city in the state, with the third largest public school system, has sustained public concerns expressed regarding systemic bias that then impacts the negotiation of the superintendent's contract renewal, the state (not just DESE, though that's true) pays attention. The seventh most read post was just my running through the released student disciplinary data from the district and comparing it to the student disciplinary data that the state had posted from the district, following an earlier post.I did find myself for much of April attempting to at least share what was happening in Worcester.
    We shouldn't forget that, either.

  8. The Boston Globe's new foundation-funded education shop did a long piece on the Boston Public Schools' bathrooms, which left me with decidedly mixed feelings

  9. Thankfully, it isn't often that we have a crossover into public education of the ongoing fight for transparency and accountability around sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, but this year we did, and it hit Massachusetts. I am still very very concerned about how the Department did not, frankly, choose to handle this, from my seat as a mother and from a district policy level. There should have been an open call from the Department for anyone with any concerns or history to contact someone outside the Department; that should have gone out to every district with a request that it be shared through every district channel.
    DESE officials have a lot of implicit trust around children that comes with their positions, and I really don't think the Department did what it needed to in order to keep and maintain that trust. 

  10. And then we had a bill! And I had all sorts of people tweeting me gifs of their waiting for me to read it!
    And lo and behold, it actually passed and was signed.
This did not make the top ten, but it came close, and it's making me laugh, because it may be that kind of a year again: you gotta make up snow days.
And seniors? You can't get out earlier than the 168th day of school (sorry!). 

And in 2020?
Locally, yes, I'll be blogging the Worcester School Committee and other meetings; as per past practice, I don't tweet from the floor, but blogging is my taking notes, so that you'll have.
At the state level, we have the Student Opportunity Act to implement (with those district spending plans due in April!). The Board of Ed is considering vocational schools admissions, we're still implementing the ESSA plan (will there be alterations?), and I, anyway, am still wondering about the vision of K-12 education coming out of Malden now.
And, nationally, we of course have a president to elect!

I feel very, very lucky to do what I do. Thanks for reading, but thanks also for asking questions, for pushing me on policies, and for all, named and otherwise, who answer my sometimes repetitive and often inconveniently timed questions.
I couldn't do it without you. 
For the coming year, I can't say it better than Molly Ivins:
So keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't forget to have fun doing it. Be outrageous... rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. 
And when you get through celebrating the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was!
Happy 2020! 

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