Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Students Learn the Ropes at Statehouse

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

By Tara Jayakar, Cape Cod Times

BOSTON — During heated testimony over a Senate bill that would deny a driver’s license to a truant student, Joe Sherlock — aka state Sen. Stephen Baddour, D-Methuen — argued that education level and driving aren’t connected.

“Because you can pass calculus does not mean you (wouldn’t) barrel down the 495,” he said.

Sherlock knows what he was talking about — the Haverhill High School senior is acquainted with both high school math and driving. The legislative process is newer to him.
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Testing waiver loosens ‘noose’ for Cape schools

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

By Tara Jayakar, Cape Cod Times

Cape educators say they are relieved with the news that Massachusetts schools have been released from the federal testing guidelines of the No Child Left Behind Act, but some are wondering what this new freedom will mean.

“What kind of relief do we get?” Barnstable public schools Superintendent Mary Czajkowski asked a day after the Feb. 9 announcement.

The White House announced earlier this month that Massachusetts and nine other states will be granted a waiver from the 2005 federal education law that sets annual “adequate yearly progress” benchmarks for student achievement in basic areas of math and reading.
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Lawmakers meet students on Public Higher Education Day

Monday, April 9th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud

BOSTON – A boisterous crowd of nearly a thousand students and faculty members gathered at the State House Thursday to lobby lawmakers for a better education at a lower cost.

The students packed Gardner Auditorium with a standing room only crowd, wearing their school colors and shouting their university names as speakers exhorted them to lobby in support of Gov. Deval Patrick’s plan to raise the university system’s budget by 5 percent.

Richard Freeland, the state’s commissioner for higher education, praised the crowd saying education power is fueled by the unity of students, faculty and their legislators.
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A MetroWest lawmaker pushes for greater medical training

Friday, April 6th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud, The MetroWest Daily News

BOSTON – A MetroWest lawmaker wants to require more training for those working with developmentally disabled patients following a report found health car professionals don’t know enough about the best treatment for their conditions.

“We need to improve training for medical practitioners,” said Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, said after testifying before the Joint Committee on Public Health on Tuesday. “Disabled people need a much greater level of care and it is important to improve the recognition of their needs.”

Dykema has taken up a bill filed last year by former Rep. Peter J. Koutoujian, before he was named Middlesex County sheriff, that would require continuing education for doctors and licensed health care providers on the problems and treatments of the physically and mentally disabled.
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Cost of raising dropout age worries some

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

By Rick SobeyMilford Daily News

BOSTON – Area legislators and school officials support the idea of raising the minimum school dropout age from 16 to 18, but there are concerns with how the plan would be funded and implemented.

On Thursday, 44 days after President Barack Obama suggested states should raise the dropout age to 18, the Joint Education Committee approved a bill that would raise the state’s minimum high school dropout age to 17 in 2013 and 18 in 2014.

The bill would place graduation coaches in schools with high dropout rates, and require alternative education for expelled students. The coaches would identify the students who are at risk, monitor their attendance rates and provide advice and services, such as peer tutoring. The coaches would also reach out to students who have already dropped out.
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Local educators air doubts on teacher question

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

By Rick SobeyMilford Daily News

Area teacher unions are joining with the state Department of Education to oppose a November ballot question that would require schools to make decisions on hiring, firing and tenure based on teacher evaluations rather than seniority.

Patrick Kennelly, a departing board member of the Milford School Committee, said the success of the initiative will depend on how it is perceived.

On the one hand, he said that teachers would be against the initiative if it’s just for management to fire teachers who they don’t like.
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Area schools say they are taking safety to heart

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Costs of coach CPR training bill worry some

By Steven GraffThe Sun Chronicle

BOSTON – A proposed bill requiring school coaches to get their own training and certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation has some education officials worried about the costs.

But some Attleboro area schools already meet some of the standards.

North Attleboro High School Athletic Director Kurt Kummer said that because he has a trained emergency medical technician on staff, most of his coaches already are certified in CPR.
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Gov plans education programs aimed at state’s gateway cities

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

November 10, 2011

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick’s planned programs to close the achievement gap in public schools would be welcome in the Fitchburg school system.

“I think it’s very exciting that the governor is really articulating that there are conditions we know help support increased achievement by students,” said Fitchburg Assistant Superintendent Paula Giaquinto. “Early literacy? Absolutely. More time for second-language learners? Absolutely.”

Patrick announced a new education agenda Wednesday at his administration’s 2011 Education Summit. The plan focuses on so-called gateway cities, the communities that are home to many of the state’s immigrants, as well as low-income students and English-language learners.

The governor’s initiatives include a summer program for students learning English, literacy development for kindergartners and the creation of regional student-support councils to help connect students and families with social-service providers to help with issues ranging from mental health to housing instability, so students can focus on their studies.

Heather Johnson, spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Education, said the new programs will target gateway cities because that’s where the achievement gap has been most persistent.

“The most egregious deterrent to reaching kids is poverty, so we keep coming back to that,” she said. “Kids who are showing up to school hungry aren’t going to do as well as kids who have a wide range of support around them.”

Giaquinto said Fitchburg educators are already working on closing the achievement gap, but that the new programs would help existing efforts.

“We have limited summer programs based on funding, but we really see the value for summer programs as an opportunity to stay connected,” she said.

Giaquinto said an early-literacy initiative would be particularly well-received, since it would complement existing summer math programs the school district offers.

“We run a weeklong camp for preschoolers and their families and the response has been phenomenal,” she said. “We have a waiting list and the feedback we get from parents is that they wish it would run longer. It’s a great way to make a connection, especially for preschoolers.”

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Ed plan seeks to close achievement gap

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

November 10, 2011

BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick’s planned programs to close the achievement gap would be welcome in the Lowell public school system.

“We’ll join whatever way the governor and the state allows us to because all of these would be beneficial to our community,” said Superintendent of Schools Jean Franco. “Any kind of support system, that’s something Lowell can always use.”

Patrick announced a new education agenda yesterday at his administration’s 2011 Education Summit at UMass Boston. The plan focuses on so-called gateway cities, communities that are home to many of the state’s immigrants, as well as low-income students and English-language learners.

The governor’s initiatives include a summer program for students learning English, literacy development for kindergartners and the creation of regional student support councils to help connect students and families with social-service providers to help with issues ranging from mental-health problems to housing instability, so students can focus on their studies.

Franco said outreach through support councils would particularly benefit Lowell students whose families are immigrants or refugees.

“We have a number of new students from Burma, and they come in with no formal schooling because they’ve lived in intergenerational refugee camps,” she said. “So we could use lots of resources, whether it be for interpreters or training people in the community. There’s always use for social assistance.”

Heather Johnson, spokesman for the Executive Office of Education, said the new programs will target gateway cities because that’s where the achievement gap has been most persistent.”The most egregious deterrent to reaching kids is poverty, so we keep coming back to that,” she said. “Kids who are showing up to school hungry aren’t going to do as well as kids who have a wide range of support around them.” 

Patrick proposed two summer programs, one that would help students learn English as a second language, and one that would provide a head start in literacy for kindergartners.

Franco said any program that would give English-language learners more time would be a big help. She also supports the idea of a literacy summer camp for kindergarten students.

“Any time you can make the gain with young children, you can fill in the gap,” she said.

According to a list provided by the administration, the gateway cities in Massachusetts are Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Quincy, Revere, Salem, Springfield, Taunton, Westfield and Worcester.

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Ed collaboratives poised for an overhaul

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

November 9, 2011

BOSTON — State lawmakers continued their crackdown on alleged excesses by some of the state’s education collaboratives yesterday, hearing two bills that would increase accountability and oversight of the collaboratives.

The proposed legislation comes after state Auditor Suzanne Bump released reports on the finances of three of the state’s 27 education collaboratives, including $37 million in questionable and undocumented expenses at the Merrimack Special Education Collaborative.

The audits pointed to a broken system, which put at risk the interests of taxpayers and special-needs students, both of which are meant to be the beneficiaries of the collaboratives, said First Deputy Auditor Laura Marlin, testifying on behalf of the state auditor’s office before the Joint Committee on Education. “They revealed an urgent need to address the laws that govern educational collaboratives.”

Education collaboratives allow neighboring school districts to pool resources to serve students with learning disabilities and other special needs. Education Secretary Paul Reville said some collaboratives had exploited their ability to govern themselves and manage their own finances.

“The alleged grotesque abuses of power chronicled in the press over the past several months make it essential for the administration and the Legislature to act quickly to ensure the best elements of education collaboratives are protected, while the worst offenses cannot be repeated,” Reville said.

A bill proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick would require the appointment of an independent voting member to each committee’s board of directors, call for a minimum of six board meetings per year, and mandate that all new board members receive training from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“These provisions ensure the taxpayers and educational leaders of the commonwealth are not left to powerlessly watch in dismay the next time allegations emerge that employees and board members of an education collaborative have abused their authority,” Reville said.

A similar bill filed by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, D-Boston, would tighten the financial reporting requirements on collaboratives, and bar collaborative employees or board members from holding similar positions at related nonprofits.

According to a report by the state inspector general, John Barranco, the former executive director of the Merrimack Special Education Collaborative, allegedly misused millions in taxpayer funds intended for the collaborative, funneling them through the Chelmsford-based Merrimack Education Center that he ran.

Both bills would require independent annual audits of the collaboratives’ finances. The collaboratives would have to report the audit results to their member school districts.

Theresa Watts, executive director of the Concord Area Special Education Collaborative, told the committee that although she supported the proposed legislation, she was concerned by the cost that additional audits and reporting would carry.

“The expansion of rules must not come at the expense of some of the commonwealth’s most vulnerable children and families,” she said.

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