Showing posts with label Education reform. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Education reform. Show all posts

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Massachusetts Legislature Votes to Enact the Student Opportunity Act

Investing $1.5 billion in public schools, updating statewide education policy, and supporting effective approaches to close student opportunity gaps

Wednesday, (Nov 20), both chambers of the Massachusetts Legislature unanimously voted to enact the Student Opportunity Act. This legislation, providing an unprecedented $1.5 billion new investment in Massachusetts K-12 public education system, ensures public schools have the resources to provide high- quality education to students across the state, regardless of zip code or income level. Assuming inflation, over the seven-year implementation timeline the bill will provide an estimated $2.2 billion in support of public schools.

The Student Opportunity Act provides significant support to school districts that serve English learners and high concentrations of low-income students. At the same time, all school districts across the Commonwealth will benefit from updates to the existing funding formula, along with increased state investments in vital education aid programs such as special education transportation, school construction and renovation, and the 21st Century Education Program.

“The Student Opportunity Act makes a lasting and profound investment in the Massachusetts public education system and places a special emphasis on English learners and districts serving our low-income students,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “We’re building on our ongoing efforts to support our neediest students and to close opportunity gaps. I want to thank Chair Peisch for her leadership on this legislation, and Chair Lewis for his hard work, and the conference committee especially Representatives Tucker and Ferguson. This was a collaboration among the House and the Senate, and I appreciate Senate President Spilka’s partnership as we make this historic investment.”

“Today is an extraordinary day for our students,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “With the enactment of the Student Opportunity Act, the Legislature is reaffirming our commitment to the idea that providing a quality public education is not a luxury—it is both our greatest responsibility and our greatest opportunity. I am proud of the diligent and thoughtful work of Senator Jason Lewis, the education committee and the conferees, as well as the tireless advocacy by students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others to bring this bill to fruition. I look forward to this historic bill being signed into law.”

“Our enactment of the Student Opportunity Act will lead to greater resources for public school students across the Commonwealth, said Representative Alice Peisch (D – Wellesley), Chair House Education Committee. “The House vote is a clear indication of our commitment to ensuring that all students, and especially low-income students and English learners, have full access to the high quality education that Massachusetts provides its children. While this bill is a major step forward, it is not the end of our efforts aimed at narrowing the achievement gap and expanding access. I look forward to continuing to work with Speaker DeLeo and my colleagues in the House on education legislation that will keep Massachusetts a national and international leader in public education.”

“Access to a high-quality public education is a fundamental right for every child, and that's why the Student Opportunity Act will make an unprecedented $1.5 billion investment in our public schools, ensuring that school districts across the Commonwealth have adequate and equitable resources to provide all students, especially those facing adversity, with a high-quality public education,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. “I am confident that the Student Opportunity Act will effectively address opportunity and achievement gaps and make a meaningful difference to generations of Massachusetts students."

The Student Opportunity Act fully implements the recommendations of the 2015 Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC) in order to support the “educational programs and services necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s educational goals” as stated in the Commission’s mission. The bill provides an estimated $1.4 billion in new Chapter 70 aid over and above inflation when fully implemented over the next seven years. The bill modernizes the K-12 education funding and policy landscape in four areas:

• Estimates school districts’ employee and retiree health care costs using up to date health insurance trend data collected by the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC).
• Increases special education enrollment and cost assumptions to more accurately reflect district enrollment.
• Increases funding for English learners (EL) and differentiates funding by grade level to reflect the greater resources required to educate our older EL students.
• Addresses the needs of districts educating high concentrations of low-income students by: 
  • Providing additional funding based on the share of low-income students in each district; districts educating the largest percentage of low-income students will receive an additional increment equal to 100 percent of the base foundation; and
  • Returning the definition of low-income to 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, as opposed to the 133 percent level used in recent years.
In addition to implementing the FBRC’s recommended formula changes, the Student Opportunity Act provides an additional $100 million in state financial support in several categories to help public schools and communities deliver a high-quality education to every student. Those fiscal supports include:

• Increasing foundation rates for guidance and psychological services in recognition of the growing need for expanded social-emotional support and mental health services;
• Committing to fully funding charter school tuition reimbursement, which provides transitional aid to help districts when students leave to attend charter schools, within a three-year timetable;
• Expanding the special education circuit breaker program, which reimburses districts for extraordinary special education costs, to include transportation as well as instructional cost, to be implemented over the next four years; and
• Raising the annual cap on Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) spending for construction and renovation by $200 million (from $600 million to $800 million), enabling more school building projects across the state to be accepted into the MSBA funding pipeline, which reimburses towns and cities for a portion of school building costs.

In addition to new funding and other supports, the Student Opportunity Act establishes the 21st Century Education Trust Fund to provide districts and schools access to flexible funding to pursue creative approaches to student learning and district improvement.

In order to track and reproduce successful school and district-level programs and policies, the legislation calls on school districts to develop and make publicly available plans for closing opportunity gaps. These plans will include specific goals and metrics to track success. The bill includes language, to ensure that plans consider input from school committees and other stakeholders. In addition, the Secretary of Education will collect and publish data on student preparedness in each district for post-graduate success in college and the workforce.

Furthermore, the Student Opportunity Act establishes a Data Advisory Commission to help improve the use of data at the state, district, and school levels to inform strategies that strengthen teaching, learning and resource allocation. The bill increases the scope of data collected and moves towards establishing targets for college and career success.

To support ongoing efforts to address education-funding challenges, the legislation also includes the following provisions:

• Establishes a Rural Schools Commission to investigate the unique challenges facing rural and regional school districts with low and declining enrollment and make recommendations for further updates to help impacted districts and communities;
• Directs the Department of Revenue (DOR) and DESE to analyze the method of determining required local contributions in the Chapter 70 school funding formula for the purpose of improving equity, predictability and accuracy; and
• Requires the Massachusetts School Building Authority to undertake a review of the current program, now in its fifteenth year, to ensure that capital reimbursements meet district needs.

The bill requires the Foundation Budget Review Commission to convene at least every ten years to review the way foundation budgets are calculated and ensure the school funding formula continues to reflect the needs of school districts across the Commonwealth.

The bill now goes to the governor.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

MassBudget: FY 2020 budget provides education funding increase, includes some revenue

  MassBudget: FY 2020 budget provides education funding increase, includes some revenue     

September 27, 2019

FY 2020 budget provides education funding increase, includes some revenue
As lawmakers finalize the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget, here is a look at the key stories from this budget cycle. Throughout the FY 2020 budget debate, two questions rose to the top:
  • Will the FY 2020 budget adequately fix the state's outdated school funding formula?
  • Will the FY 2020 budget include adequate revenue to pay for important investments?
For K-12 school funding, the FY 2020 budget gets closer to what it actually takes to provide a high quality education to all Massachusetts students. However, it does not include a multi-year plan to update the education funding formula. In the coming weeks, the Legislature will debate a recently released multi-year plan to update the formula for our K-12 schools starting in FY 2021, which could increase state funding for schools by $1.5 billion in 7 years when fully implemented.
(For a detailed look at just the FY 2020 budget for school funding, see the K-12 Education section of the analysis.)
The FY 2020 budget does include some anticipated revenue from recently enacted policy changes and from expected growth of existing revenue sources. These tax and non-tax revenue sources are expected to deliver $504.4 million in additional revenue in FY 2020. A number of already-scheduled tax cuts and other revenue losses, however, will eliminate most of this half billion in anticipated and proposed gains (see the Revenue section of the report for details).
The big revenue story in the FY 2020 budget, however, came not from the revenue proposals in the budget itself, but from the surprisingly strong tax collections through FY 2019 and how these affected the FY 2020 budget. Collections in FY 2019 exceeded earlier projections by more than a billion dollars, which allowed lawmakers to boost the funding for many programs and services, while also adding to the state's Stabilization Fund. Yet there is a real question of whether these strong tax collections will continue into FY 2020 and beyond.
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) produces policy research, analysis, and data-driven recommendations focused on improving the lives of low- and middle-income children and adults, strengthening our state's economy, and enhancing the quality of life in Massachusetts.

BOSTON, MA 02109

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, 1 State Street, Suite 1250, Boston, MA 02109
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Funding for early education and care in the FY 2020 budget
Funding for early education and care in the FY 2020 budget

Friday, July 12, 2019

"The least you can do is give us an on-going personal finance education"

Hat tip to Ron Taylor for sharing this article via Twitter from Anastasia Basil. Well worth the read.
"For a long time you will say I am not listening, not paying attention. You will insist I do not care, that I am lazy. At best, a daydreamer.

A neurological explanation will be found. You will give me cures: Here is extra time to complete the test. And a calculator. And medicine for your daydreaming brain. You will feel good about yourselves: See how we have accommodated, how kind we are, how helpful and understanding?

And I will wonder how very awful I must be. They gave me extra time, gum to chew, notes to view and still, I can’t do better than before. Where there was only suspicion (Am I stupid?) now there is proof: my scarlet letters, Ds and Fs. You don’t make me wear these as an armband or sewn onto my shirt, but I can’t take them off, either. They’re mine for good.

"Try harder. Work harder. Pay attention. Sit still. Stop drawing. Stop humming. Begin again," you say."
Continue reading the article online

Photo: Florian Gaertner/Getty Images
Photo: Florian Gaertner/Getty Images

Friday, June 14, 2019

In the News: Business groups advocate for education reform

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

"Representatives of 31 business groups laid out their education reform asks in a letter to lawmakers Wednesday, as the Education Committee continues to weigh changes to the state’s school funding formula.
The letter, circulated by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education and signed by groups including Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, said employers are reporting trouble finding qualified candidates for open jobs while students are graduating unprepared to secure those positions. 
The groups call passing school funding reform legislation “a unique and rare opportunity to take urgently needed steps to ensure each and every student in our commonwealth receives the high quality education they need to take their rightful place in our economy and our communities.”

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

The letter referenced

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

MassBudget: Beyond zero tolerance: Improving school discipline


Across the Commonwealth, educators seek to establish positive learning environments where all young people can be successful. Encouraging positive behavior is critical to creating the classrooms that our kids need to reach their full potential. Excluding students from the classroom through suspensions and expulsions interrupts their learning time and often creates negative cycles that can harm students and the learning climate.

MassBudget's new report, "Learning Uninterrupted: Supporting Positive Culture and Behavior in Schools," examines new approaches to school discipline that have been effective in fostering a positive school climate and reducing student suspensions while contributing to academic achievement. One approach emphasizes preventative measures promoting positive school culture, reinforcing expectations with incentives and logical consequences, and providing additional support for the kids most in need. Another approach, "Restorative Justice" brings together young people who have broken rules with other affected parties to discuss the impact of the bad behavior, determine corrective action, and empower those harmed.

As Massachusetts schools move beyond strict "zero tolerance" discipline policies, the report examines how school districts could implement these types of effective reforms and what the costs might be. 

The stakes are high for reducing school suspensions and expulsions. Recent research has found a 12 percentage point decline in the probability of graduating high school for suspended students after controlling for other background factors. Students excluded from class time often become more disengaged and alienated. Research links dropping out of school to lower lifetime earnings and increased social costs.

In Massachusetts, the passage of Chapter 222 aims to reduce the prevalence of exclusionary discipline by directing schools to limit suspensions to severe issues, increase due process, and to work with the families and provide services for kids facing discipline. These reforms have helped to reduce exclusionary discipline by 17.7 percent over two years. MassBudget's new study identifies ways that our schools could build on this progress by adopting innovative policies that have a strong record of success in other states: proactive strategies to create a positive school climate so that the behaviors that lead to exclusionary discipline are less likely to occur and Restorative Justice programs that rebuild positive relationships when incidents occur.
Studies show schools are more likely to suspend black and Latino students, as well as students with disabilities, even for similar kinds of behavior. Massachusetts' Chapter 222 requires schools to monitor and report data on these disparities.

To see data on student suspensions for each school district for minor and major offenses going back to 2012, click here.
To read the full report, "Learning Uninterrupted: Supporting Positive Culture and Behavior in Schools," click here.

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) produces policy research, analysis, and data-driven recommendations focused on improving the lives of low- and middle-income children and adults, strengthening our state's economy, and enhancing the quality of life in Massachusetts.

BOSTON, MA 02108

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

"Let’s stop measuring fish by how well they climb trees"

Joshua Katz is a high school math teacher in Orange County, FL. Of all the TED talks I have seen, this is one of the best. 

Joshua's Talk:
In the mid 1800's, Horace Mann captured the potential impact of education on society. We have yet to realize the potential he saw, and in fact, we are missing the mark by a wider and wider margin. We have created a "Toxic Culture of Education" in our country that is damaging students, impacting our economy, and threatening our future. Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, we have embraced a culture of high stakes testing and are perpetuating a false sense of failure in our schools. We have ignored research and data on effective policy making practices in order to serve the interest of private industries that have monetized our students. The impact is being felt in communities, on college campuses, and in our economy. The solution lies in a common sense approach to student development, curriculum choice, career exploration, and relevant data analysis. This talk will present a vision of an education system that allows us to embrace our full potential if we only had the courage to ask "Why Not"?

The full transcript for Joshua's talk can be found here

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

MassBudget: Ed Reform at Twenty: What's Worked, What's Changed, and What's Next

MassBudget    Information.
 Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center    Democracy.
20th Anniversary of Ed. Reform
New Factsheet + Online Discussion
Twenty years ago this week, Massachusetts remade its education system to help ensure that all children across the Commonwealth would have the opportunity to learn and thrive. Among other things, the state introduced a more equitable system of school funding, reformed school governance, and changed the way students are evaluated. Millions of Massachusetts students have benefited from those reforms, but in recent years a combination of tax cuts, the recession, and the rising cost of health care have constrained the state's ability to keep up with the funding needs of our schools.

In honor of the anniversary, and as part of a broader effort to think about the next stage of education reform, MassBudget is releasing a new factsheet and organizing a discussion at the group blog,

  • Our factsheet, "Ed Reform at Twenty: What's Worked, What's Changed, and What's Next" begins by describing the new approach to education funding that anchored the 1993 law. In the intervening years, the economy has changed, and with it the educational needs of our children. In light of those changes, "Ed Reform at Twenty" discusses some of the options for future reform and what might be needed to ensure a quality education for all Massachusetts children.

  • A number of leading voices in Massachusetts education will be sharing their thoughts on Ed. Reform at, a group blog about the well-being of children in Massachusetts. Current participants includes Legislators, Advocates, Research Organizations, and the state's Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. More posts will be appearing throughout the week, so we invite you to visit the blog, share your own perspective, and join the conversation in the coming days. You can also receive information about new posts via RSS, Twitter, or Facebook.

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) produces policy research, analysis, and data-driven recommendations focused on improving the lives of low- and middle-income children and adults, strengthening our state's economy, and enhancing the quality of life in Massachusetts.

BOSTON, MA 02108
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover (video)

Today's math curriculum is teaching students to expect -- and excel at -- paint-by-numbers classwork, robbing kids of a skill more important than solving problems: formulating them. In his talk, Dan Meyer shows classroom-tested math exercises that prompt students to stop and think. (Filmed at TEDxNYED.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

In the News: education articles

Perhaps you recall that the MA received a waiver from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program. What the waiver does and does not do is highlighted in the following two articles.

Education standards slated to become more flexible

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stop Stealing Dreams

Seth Godin always asks provocative questions. He has an ebook/essay on education reform that I just found here

Have you read this yet?

What do you think?

Monday, September 5, 2011

The post-industrial revolution is here

Seth Godin writes:
As we get ready for the 93rd year of universal public education, here’s the question every parent and taxpayer needs to wrestle with: Are we going to applaud, push or even permit our schools (including most of the private ones) to continue the safe but ultimately doomed strategy of churning out predictable, testable and mediocre factory-workers?

Read his full posting here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Interview with Obama on education

President Obama is interviewed by Damon Weaver, from the KEC TV News Team out of Kathryn E. Cunningham/Canal Point Elementary in Florida, in preparation for the Presidential address to students today.

The video interview (about 10 minutes) can be viewed here:

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Next steps in Education Reform

Governor Deval Patrick announced two new pieces of legislation to take the next steps in education reform. This video summarizes his announcement.

To learn more about the legislation, please view the fact sheet, the Readiness Schools legislation and the Charter School "Smart Cap" legislation.

To learn more about the Commonwealth Readiness project and watch the rollout and read their final report.

Visit the original information on the Governor's page here.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

teachers = "are expert learners first"

... I also wonder if we can actually make something new out of something old in this case. Without remaking the system, is it reasonable to expect that we can systemically move toward inquiry based, self-directed, networked learning spaces that focus on the learning that Carroll describes in the essay?

Thoughtful posting by Wil Richardson on the idea that if we could start over and create schools, what would we do?

I highly recommend clicking through to read the full posting here

Given the cost pressures affecting school districts here and elsewhere, how should schools operate? What do you think?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Seth asks: What are schools for?

Seth Godin asks an interesting question and then proposes a starter listing for the answer:

Seems like a simple question, but given how much time and money we spend on it, it has a wide range of answers, many unexplored, some contradictory. I have a few thoughts about education, how we use it to market ourselves and compete, and I realized that without a common place to start, it's hard to figure out what to do.

So, a starter list. The purpose of school is to:

  1. Become an informed citizen
  2. Be able to read for pleasure
  3. Be trained in the rudimentary skills necessary for employment
  4. Do well on standardized tests
  5. Homogenize society, at least a bit
  6. Pasteurize out the dangerous ideas
  7. Give kids something to do while parents work
  8. Teach future citizens how to conform
  9. Teach future consumers how to desire
  10. Build a social fabric
  11. Create leaders who help us compete on a world stage
  12. Generate future scientists who will advance medicine and technology
  13. Learn for the sake of learning
  14. Help people become interesting and productive
  15. Defang the proletariat
  16. Establish a floor below which a typical person is unlikely to fall
  17. Find and celebrate prodigies, geniuses and the gifted
  18. Make sure kids learn to exercise, eat right and avoid common health problems
  19. Teach future citizens to obey authority
  20. Teach future employees to do the same
  21. Increase appreciation for art and culture
  22. Teach creativity and problem solving
  23. Minimize public spelling mistakes
  24. Increase emotional intelligence
  25. Decrease crime by teaching civics and ethics
  26. Increase understanding of a life well lived
  27. Make sure the sports teams have enough players
Read the full posting Seth makes on his blog here

What would you add to or subtract from this listing?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is it time?

Other than being an ad for Kaplan University, a company trying to re-invent itself, the subject raises some good questions. Is it time to re-think the educational process?

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Great video

I had the pleasure of being in the audience to hear Geoffrey Canada give this talk at the GEL Conference in 2006. It is now available in video, 23 minutes long and well worth watching.

Who is Geoffrey Canada?
In his 20-plus years with Harlem Children's Zone, Inc., Geoffrey Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform.

So what does Harlem have to do with Franklin?

The challenge that Geoffrey faces is very similar to one all students in MA face as well. The school budget is scrutinized relentlessly for every dollar because it costs too much, yet the prison budget is not given the same scrutiny nor are they given similar performance objectives.

  1. Watch the video
  2. Listen to Geoffrey
  3. Listen to the argument he uses

There must be something in there we can use to change the approach to funding education in MA. Of course it won't be easy, but the time might be better now to try.

What do you think?

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