Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Statement by Dr Monica Linden, Franklin, MA School Committee member

The statement read by Dr Monica Linden, School Committee member at the School Committee meeting on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

"I’d like to thank the evaluation sub-committee for what must have been challenging work to combine the assessments into an aggregate report. However, I would like to express my concern that the superintendent evaluation, as prepared by the evaluation sub-committee, especially the particular rankings themselves, does not reflect my voice as a School Committee member. I’d like to start by being clear that my evaluation of Dr. Ahern is positive, and I am pleased with her progress. Additionally, I know that in my day job I am known for being an especially critical, observant assessor who provides assessment feedback intended for growth. In this case as well, I devoted significant time and thoughtfulness to provide feedback meant to honor the hard work that Dr. Ahern has done for the district while providing clear commentary intended for growth to help elevate the Franklin Schools.

One area of particular concern to me in the evaluation is that for all 4 district improvement plan goals, it was deemed that the goals were met. To me, this means that either the goals were not ambitious enough, or we should have one of the very best districts in the state. While we have a great district, it is not the best. In terms of the ambition of the goals, I believe that Dr. Ahern established excellent, visionary goals for the district. To say that she has met them during her brief tenure does a disservice to the hard work that has actually been done and undermines what students, parents, and community members should expect from the district. While I do not believe that any of the four goals have been fully realized, to respect everyone’s time, I will use DIP #2 as an example. As a reminder the goal reads:
To ensure that all students are supported and challenged to reach their full potential, the FPS will align curriculum, best practices, and varied assessment opportunities to personalize learning and meet individualized needs. [emphasis mine]

Personally, I love this goal because a goal like this should be a goal of public education. I also want to emphasize that I appreciate and value the hard work under Dr. Edwards that has been done to strengthen the Franklin Schools’ curriculum. However, I do not understand how we can conclude that this goal has been met. Many of the parents that I speak with either say that the individual special circumstances for their students are not being fully met or that their students are not challenged enough in their courses. In fact, the only parent that attended the last community coffee chat spoke about her son not being challenged in his courses at Franklin High School. Furthermore, while great work is being done to differentiate in the classroom, we are far from realizing truly individualized, personalized learning. To me, saying that this goal has been met, means we do not need to continue to work towards it. Rather, I believe lots of great progress has been made, but the Superintendent should continue on this path to help improve the Schools for all of our learners.

I believe similar cases can be made for each of the other district goals and one of the professional practice goals. Similarly, I disagree with the assessments against the standards. [I did not read this section in the meeting due to time…. As an example here, with Standard III-A, Family and Community Engagement, I acknowledge the excellent work done to honor the diversity of our community and to be inclusive, however I believe more can be done to make sure ALL families are included, for example, providing more materials in other languages if necessary.]

Frankly, Dr. Ahern is showing that she has the makings of an exceptional superintendent. As elected officials, we owe it to the community to expect more from her so that she can grow and support our schools to the best of her abilities. Rubber-stamping her work does not sit well with me. For these reasons, I will be voting against the composite evaluation. Furthermore, I request that my individual evaluation be made public as an addendum to the composite evaluation so that my voice can be represented. Thank you for your consideration."

The statement can also be found online

Note: The evaluation document was not made public prior to the meeting. It will be shared here once it is available

Franklin Matter's notes from the Tuesday meeting recorded live during the session

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