A DEBATE BUT DIFFERENT: With so many School Committee candidates this year, learning what each of them are about is a real challenge. That’s why I’m intrigued by the digital candidate forum the Worcester Education Collaborative launched this week. Basically, they’re just sending questions out to the candidates and posting their answers. Answers go up every Tuesday until election day at wecollaborative.org/school-committee. Should be a good way to stay on top of all these candidates.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has abandoned its constitutional duty to “cherish” education and ensure that all students receive a high-quality education. Instead, funding for its public school systems has become increasingly unequal. The Commonwealth’s proud history and national reputation as a leader in public education are irrelevant for the students in far too many communities since they attend schools that remain woefully underfunded…
The Worcester Education Collaborative stands in support of Mayor Petty’s multi-point action plan offered in response to the concerns of the Worcester Coalition for Education Equity. We appreciate leaders in our community also voicing concerns specific to the education and experiences of our children that WEC has been engaged with for many years. We look forward to the shared work ahead.
In 1993 gasoline cost $1.16 a gallon, cell phones were non-existent, and Jurassic Park had just come to theaters. Also, in 1993, Massachusetts passed a groundbreaking education reform bill. That Act, among other things, included two important provisions that reflect core values of our commonwealth—high expectations for teaching and learning and adequate and equitable funding to assure that every child educated with public funds was offered an education that allowed them to acquire the knowledge and skills to become productive, contributing residents of our state.
Massachusetts has long been ranked No. 1 on a number of national education benchmarks, including the SAT, but wide gaps in achievement persist in the state among students of different backgrounds, prompting more than a dozen advocacy organizations to form a new coalition to push for more school funding…
WORCESTER – After wrapping up a series of public discussions about the document that took place over the summer, the School Committee at its meeting Thursday unanimously voted to accept and begin implementing a new long-term strategic plan for the system.
Mass Budget: Our education funding formula has not been systematically updated in twenty-five years, and it fails to provide the funding needed for school districts to fund core expenses – like teachers, materials and technology, and building maintenance – at the levels within the formula that estimate the full cost of an adequate education (called the “foundation budget”). In our wealthiest districts, local taxes have been able to fill gaps, allowing schools to provide the educational supports and opportunities students need to succeed. In our low-income and many of our middle-income districts, however, the amounts schools can spend on core expenses are well below what the foundation budget specifies. This means many of our schools don’t have the resources they need to implement effective strategies that could help all children succeed...
Boston Globe: Governor Charlie Baker proposed Friday plowing $72 million into school safety, harnessing a surge in tax revenue to hand local districts an election-year cash infusion for hiring more mental health specialists and upgrading security at educational facilities.
State needs to address inequality in education
Commonwealth Magazine: WHEN THE PUBLIC SEEKS to improve the educational outcomes for students, we tend to misdirect our frustration towards teachers unions, low-performing district schools, and/or the existence of charter schools. The problem, however, is much larger than any one school. In reality, cash-strapped urban districts and Gateway Cities across Massachusetts are not getting their fair share of dollars in the form of local aid. We must ensure that all teachers at all schools have the resources they need to educate all learners.
Worcester Telegram & Gazett: It’s taken nearly a year to complete a new strategic plan for the Worcester Public Schools, the first such plan in a quarter century. It was unveiled last week. And if approved by the school committee after a formal presentation expected in June, the hard work truly begins...
To assure the broadest community input into the development of strategic plan for the Worcester Public Schools, WEC and the Worcester Regional Research Bureau will be hosting an additional listening session on January 24th at 6:00 pm at Claremont Academy, 15 Claremont Street in Worcester.
Members of the public are invited to participate.
The agenda for the meeting is as follows:
- Welcome and overview of the planning process to date
- Focus groups to allow community members to express their experiences, ideas, and aspirations relative to our schools
- Reports of focus groups
“Education paves the path for the future,” said Dr. Luis Pedraja, president of Quinsigamond Community College, the guest speaker at WEC’s 8th annual meeting. “…we must find creative pathways that align our curriculums and create a college bound culture not in high school, but as early as elementary school,” Pedraja said.
“Worcester Education Collaborative’s mission certainly resonates with my own commitments to ensuring student success,” Pedraja noted. “Preparing our children for success in college, career, and life is not only a calling, but a duty that falls upon everyone in our community.”
You can read Dr. Pedraja’s entire address here
Following are more highlights of his talk:
Dr. Pedraja outlined challenges facing Massachusetts educators:
Skilled workforce: Current research shows that by 2020, about 65% of job openings in the Commonwealth will require some college. However, on average we come short of that mark by 15-30% in most communities. The numbers are significantly lower for low-income, minority, and immigrant populations that comprise a growing a number of our community. This gap, unless addressed, will create greater income inequality and could lead to an economic collapse.
The devaluation of education: a growing tendency in our society to diminish the value of education, even to see it as suspect or as unnecessary expense….education is an economic driver. An educated workforce bring industry, increases wealth and buying power, foster innovation, and more engaged in society. Investing in education, is an investment in our future.
It takes a community: We have heard that it takes a village to raise a child; in the same way, I believe it takes a community to educate our students. Whether it is through the creation and expansion of mentoring programs, working with community based organizations to expand wrap around services, or aligning the multiple programs to ensure a seamless pathway, as a community we must take education seriously and be involved in the education of our children –all of our children, regardless of who they are or where they live. The future of our city and community depends on it.
Eliminating barriers: We also need to stop measuring education by the time students spend in the classroom and instead look toward outcomes opening the path for us to explore competency based education and distributed learning models that will increase flexibility and shorten time to degree.
"Worcester’s approach to developing a strategic plan for our public schools is unique. Unlike many communities where a plan is developed by district leadership with the support and input of the community, Worcester has taken a different path. The impetus for the plan began with and is being led by representatives of the community with the support and critical input of the district."
WEC's executive director Jennifer Davis Carey and Tim McGourthy, executive director of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau explain the process of developing a strategic plan for Worcester's public schools. Read more here
Join us for a public forum as we create a strategic plan for k-12 public education in Worcester.
Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017
6:30 pm at Doherty High School, 299 Highland St.
Sponsored by Worcester Education Collaborative and Worcester Regional Research Bureau.
Please join us
For a Forum with
Worcester School Committee Candidates
The Worcester Education Collaborative
Citywide Parent Planning and Advisory Council
Monday, October 30
5:30 pm, Networking Reception
6:00 pm, Forum
At The Worcester Historical Museum
30 Elm Street
Parking is available in the Pleasant Street Garage
Until recently, health care professionals and educators would look at an unruly or seemingly unteachable child as the problem, said Dr. Heather C. Forkey.
“We would’ve asked the question, ‘what’s wrong with them?’” said Dr. Forkey, chief of the Division of Child Protection at UMass Memorial Medical Center. “It turns out, we were asking the wrong question.”
The right question, which she said has a lead to a “revolution” in pediatric care and education, is not what’s wrong with those kids, but what happened to them that made them that way. Many of them, researchers have discovered over the past two decades, suffered trauma that not only negatively affected their emotional well-being, but also worsened their mental health, their physical health – and even altered their DNA. Read more