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Incoming school superintendent announces transition team; includes charter advocates

Incoming School Superintendent Tommy Chang this morning released names of a 35-member transition team that will "imagine what the future holds for the Boston Public Schools."

Among the key initiatives the transition team will immediately focus on is embarking on a ‘listen and learn’ tour that will ultimately help establish a 100-day entry plan to guide the district during the first semester of the 2015-2016 school year and beyond.

Among the members: Interim Superintendent John McDonough, a number of BPS headmasters, teachers and central administrators, the mayor's chief of operations, two students, a parent and four representatives of groups and companies with an interest in privatizing public education: the New Teacher Project, McKinsey & Company, BPE and the UP Education Network.

Transition team members:

  • Neema Avashia, Boston Public Schools Teacher, Dever-McCormack Middle School
  • Heshan Berents-Weeramuni, Parent, Curley K-8, Boston Latin Academy/Co-Chair Citywide Parent Council/Co-Chair Curley K-8 School Site Council
  • Erik Berg, Boston Public Schools Teacher, John D. Philbrick Elementary School
  • Patrick Brophy, Chief of Operations, Mayor's Office
  • Tommy Chang, Boston Public Schools Incoming Superintendent
  • Hardin Coleman, Dean, Boston University School of Education/Vice-Chair Boston School Committee
  • George Cox, Retired/Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts
  • Eileen de los Reyes, Deputy Superintendent of Academics, Boston Public Schools
  • Samuel Ding, Boston Public Schools Student, Boston Latin School
  • Rahn Dorsey, Chief of Education, Mayor's Office
  • Mary Driscoll, Principal, Edison K-8 School
  • Karla Estrada, Executive Member of Transition Team
  • Lee Franty, Boston Public Schools Teacher, Richard J. Murphy K-8 School
  • Erika Giampietro, Interim Chief Financial Officer, Boston Public Schools
  • Scott Given, CEO & Founder, UP Education Network
  • Nigel Jacob, New Urban Mechanics
  • Kim Janey, Senior Project Manager, Massachusetts Advocates for Children
  • John McDonough, Interim Superintendent, Boston Public Schools
  • Johanna Marcellon, Boston Public Schools Student, West Roxbury Academy
  • Rasheed Meadows, Vice President, The New Teacher Project
  • Donna Muncey, Executive Member of Transition Team
  • Elaine Ng, Special Education, Boston Public Schools; Formerly with Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center
  • Alexandra Oliver-Davila, Executive Director, Sociedad Latina
  • Chris Osgood, New Urban Mechanics
  • Myran Parker-Brass, Executive Director for the Arts, Boston Public Schools
  • Antonio Plascencia, Executive Member of Transition Team
  • Lydia Ramos, Executive Member of Transition Team
  • Paul Reville, Former Massachusetts Secretary of Education/Harvard Graduate School of Education Redesign Lab
  • David Rosenberg, Consultant, Education Resource Strategies
  • Jason Sachs, Director of Early Childhood, Boston Public Schools
  • Doug Scott, McKinsey and Company
  • Jesse Solomon, Executive Director, BPE (formerly Boston Plan for Excellence)
  • Tanisha Sullivan, Chief Equity Officer, Boston Public Schools
  • Naia Wilson, Headmaster, New Mission High School
  • Ross Wilson, Chief of Staff, Boston Public Schools
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City Department Heads' daily Itinerary and Schedules are public, available by request from the Mayor, School Superintendent, Boston Public Library President, each City Department Head
http://www.sec.state.ma.us/pre/prepdf/guide.pdf
http://muckrock.com

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I look forward to seeing your results.

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and four representatives of groups and companies with an interest in privatizing public education:

  • the New Teacher Project,
  • McKinsey & Company,
  • BPE
  • UP Education Network.

Five if you include Superintendent Tommy Chang. Time will tell.

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Scared of change, maybe we should just continue down the same path.

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does not represent change...I am not afraid when I see names like De Los Reyes and Meadows. I am terrified. To think they are being kept around after the damage they have inflicted sickens me.

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There are many paths to improvement as the record shows. It's not clear that privatizing public education is one of them.

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And stop the busing of children all over the damn city. Step 1 and 2.

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.

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parents.

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trained, professional well paid teachers. We can just hire low paid college grads, make them work unsustainable numbers of hours and then they'll leave every couple of years before the next crop of college grads start. Do you want your children taught in this manner? I don't.

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I'd agree with you if.

1) we had an outstanding school system
2) the un-unionized schools in the state preformed worse than Boston.

I wonder why people move or how private schools stay in business with your Union shop open for business. The union is for the benefit of it contributors, not the pupils.

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At least when public funds go towards public schools, the money goes towards the education of children. You can complain about the salaries of teachers all you want, but they are not getting rich. When charter schools are becoming a "for profit" business, you should be worried about the use of public funds elsewhere in the realm of education.

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Unfortunately I can't afford private school so my kids have to attend BPS..6 years now and I'm not impressed.
Do you know what percentage of teachers with school aged children send them to Boston Pubic Schools? that would be a telling bit of information.

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I teach in the BPS and I send all 3 of my kids to BPS schools, as do many of the people I work with. The majority of those who do not do so because they live outside of the city, like a lot of other professionals who earn a paycheck in Boston. I haven't loved every one of my children's teachers, but I'm not losing sleep over the idea that they'd be better off in Dedham or at Holy Name. The best advice I could give to be engaged, both with your kid's studies and their school. If you've spent 6 years being unhappy why didn't you explore your options inside your zone? There are lots of well-loved elementary schools around the district.

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What is a really interesting question is how many teachers that can qualify, do participate in the METCO program? I know several that do and that speaks very poorly of their opinion of the Boston Public Schools.

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Don't even get me started on metco. My kids dont qualify.

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Don't get me started on schools, I don't even have kids.

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Are you talking about the Teach For America? My niece did that for 2 years after college and before med school. The pay was bad but they paid off some of her student loans. She's a great student but they give you only 5 weeks of training. She taught in the Bronx and spent a year learning teaching on the job. She loved it but she'd be the first one to tell you 5 weeks is not enough. BPS has a much better program for training teachers.

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Please include how many kids are in each neighborhood.

Compare and contrast capacity with demand.

Then explain your plan to eliminate busing.

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or your suburb?

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... and then start talking about "ending busing". Preferably without the union-busting rhetoric. Both are magical thinking.

My city had to rebuild all its elementary and middle schools. State requirements are suburban and parking obsessed, rather than urban and compact, and mean finding large patches of land to build schools. That land was only available in my city by taking a brownfield from the DCR, cleaning it up, and then building three schools on it. Doesn't do much for busing (although three of the four elementary schools did end up within a mile of most of the kid population of the city).

This is what Boston would have to do to end busing - find ten acre parcels to build schools on such that most students are within a half mile of a school. That means schools on a one-mile grid. Also note that building new schools attracts people to the system, and budget for that, too.

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That's an exaggeration. Boston schoolyards are only two acres on average; there's only 250 acres total of them in the whole city. A 200X200 school building (~one acre footprint) with just two floors would get you 80,000 sq feet, which is the average size of an elementary school building in the US sufficient for 700 students. A local school for 2-400 students could be smaller, as many are in Boston. To get schools on a one-mile grid in Boston, you'd only need a limited number of 2-3 acre parcels.

Middle and high schools tend to be larger (averages around 140,000 and 260,000 sq ft, respectively), but I think we know Boston has a surplus of those, not a shortage.

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Most of the schools which are oversubscribed are in the middle class neighborhoods and most of the undersubscribed schools are in the poorer neighborhoods.

If you want to argue that we need busing because fewer people want to go the schools in Roxbury, Mattapan, etc... and they do want to go the schools in the Parkway (other than the Irving), that's fine but I don't think the data of supply and demand are on your side. I don't think a return to a strict neighborhood school policy is workable either politically or for the best interests of the kids in schools with underperforming schools BTW, but it's more complicated than capacity v. demand. You could build a k-8 in West Roxbury and it would be full tomorrow with a wait list. So many people in Roslindale, Parkway, bail on BPS due to a lack of a local seat not through some animus towards the BPS.

This is the crap time of year for parents of pre-K kids where we learn where our children's friends are moving (winchester, westwood) or which parochial school (Holy Name, etc...) they'll be attending after not getting an acceptable BPS slot.

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Its a shame we have under performing schools in any neighborhood and we just take it for granted.
80 million dollars per year is spent on busing (last time I checked) money that could be used to turn those schools around....or we could just leave things the way they are.

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If you want to end busing, you will need to build more schools. Look at where the schools are placed - it isn't uniform, and it isn't representative of where the children are living.

Even if you could magically create a level playing field, where all schools were doing equally well, there would still have to be either busing or construction.

I believe Sock Puppet has looked into this before - and come to some pretty cynical conclusions about what schools have been closed and moved around over time.

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I couldn't find it to cite, but I've read reports in the past showing where the most open seats are and where the demand is. Generalizing again, the open seats are largely in the neighborhoods kids are being bussed out of. This was before the assignment reform process which may have changed things, but I don't think it would be a total 180.

If you want to discuss how the school system needs to improve, great, but the reason kids are bussed around has to do with school quality not location or seats. This is also why the number of applicants for top charter school seats are insanely high- they are city wide vs. a West Rox k-8 which is largely slated for local kids.

So in this magic level playing field where all schools are equal, we have largely enough seats for the kids we have, outside of k1, which is optional. The exception is that you'll never see a new large school building built in the Parkway because it would have serious political headwinds which no-one wants to deal with, so I think demand will always outstrip supply down there.

If someone has some real data, I'd love to see it.

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I did an analysis for HUD, but it was in 2005 and used Y2K US Census data. At that time, Boston had serious deficits of capacity for many neighborhoods. They aren't the neighborhoods that you would think, either - it was mostly in parts of Dorchester, Charlestown, North End, etc. as well as looming deficits in areas such as JP, Roslindale, West Roxbury, Mission Hill, where families were moving in.

In any case, the walk zone is 1/2 mile for elementary school students. Want the kids to walk? That means a school every square mile or so. That isn't going to happen. Otherwise? There will be school buses.

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I'd love to know how the bussing patterns have changed with the new assignment reforms. My kid got a kindergarden assignment a few years back at a school 4+ miles away from our house. I don't think that can happen anymore as we simply wouldn't be allowed to apply to all schools in a zone. (as zones don't exist).

You hit on the key issue - lots of families move to JP/Rosi/WR, etc... but the system doesn't reflect that. The thing is, most of those families opt out of BPS or Boston when they don't get a school they want/accept so I don't think they are contributing to the bussing costs. Boston can make the decision to simply refuse to accommodate them, knowing the families will either a) move or b) go parochial and either way, the city no longer has to pay for that kid's education. The result is that the system focuses on the students who's families can't so easily bail out of the system due to location/money/interest and here we are.

I find BPS discussions both super interesting and also enormously depressing.

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You will always have underperforming schools as long as you insist on measuring all communities with the same tests without taking into account the radically different life experiences of the students. That's not an excuse, it's an important truth that needs to be part of the conversation. You can union-bash and fret over bussing all you want, the ground level truth is that a lot of kids in the BPS are coming from homes that work against their achievement in ways people outside of social services world could scarcely imagine.

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We have a lot of kids in BPS whose families live in poverty. We also have a lot students who are learning English and whose parents are English language learners. And we have a lot of kids who grow up in middle class households with two college-educated parents.

Children who grow up families living in poverty hear 30,000,000 fewer words before they reach school age than kids growing up in middle class families. It turns out that is a significant developmental advantage becuase language acquisition and brain development are related.

Kids living in poverty arrive in Kindergarten less prepared to learn grade-level skills than their more developmentally advanced counter parts. The 'achievement gap'-- the deficit of grade-level skills as measured through standardized tests -- seems to persist without significant intervention but it's not inevitable.

One mitigation is early ed but it's expensive and the economics are such that city and towns can spend a little on it but also must look to the state to help finance it, which is a problem becuase of sustainability. Another is extended school day depending on the use of the time. Students also improve when the move into a more challenging school environment and get the support they need to succeed. From the beginning the difference is resources. The mitigation to close the gap requires resources.

We call the schools that have a lot of kids who test poorly on grade-level skills 'failing schools.' And we call the schools that have a lot of kids who score high on standardized tests 'successful schools,' like BLS and BLA where students take a standardized test to win admission. We're proud of these schools and we should be. But we also have to recognize that we've screened for good test takers who know the grade-level competencies.

The model Mass. has used if to score student achievement (as well as school, teacher and district "success") is the standardized test which measures grade-level competencies. State Education folks think that when judging a schools success it'd be a more appropriate to measure progress over the course of the year, not just an absolute score of grade-level competency at the end.

The model of measuring grade-level competencies with MCAS (or PARCC/Common Core) seems to work very well as a part of preparing students for higher ed. We do it exceptionally well in Mass. in communities full of middle class and upper middle class families. In Boston and gateway cities where we educate kids living in poverty and English language learners, in addition to middle class families, there is a consensus that how we are doing it isn't producing the outcomes we want for more of the students.

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IMAGE(http://i.ytimg.com/vi/owNp2TvbYSU/0.jpg)

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Cities all over the country were either sued into desegregation or into consent decrees for an entire decade before Boston's resistance to fair play resulted in draconian measures.

In other words, if you think busing ruined things, remember that it simply didn't have to happen. An entire decade was wasted. Boston wasn't special.

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Was a remedy instituted by the judiciary because the political system failed to comply with federal law that said separate and unequal funding was not equal.

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The teachers union negotiates for working conditions and compensation. In their last contract, they got 1% and 2% raises. I think it was 1%, 1%, 1%, 2%, 2% over 5 years.

As a condition of Race To the Top and/or receiving NCLB waivers, they implemented a system that measures teachers performance based in part on students' test scores, a system called VAM, which is junk science devised by [alleged] education reformers (h/t Michael Kerpan) . They took it to get the federal funding BPS needed because of the loss of tax revenue during the great recession.

In my opinion BPS teacher should be more involved is formulating education reforms we need in for our school population, which includes a lot of poor kids and kids learning English. Teachers are the ones closest to the issues. They know what's needed.

Boston spends about 9% of budget on transportation. The central office and School Cmte have been chipping away at that by moving middle school students to the MBTA.

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make that "alleged education reformers".

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Go to this site and type in your local schools name and take a peek at Teachers wages.

https://data.cityofboston.gov/Finance/Employee-Earnings-Report-2014/4swk...

With 15 sick days and 5 personal days the top earner in my kids school teaches K2 and earns $101,133.56.
The Lowest paid is a First grade teacher earning $56,372.81.
The vast majority of teachers in this school earn above $75,000.00 per school year.

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I didn't say teachers were underpaid. I said their union negotiates pay and working conditions and that their raises were in the 1%-2% range for the five years of their last contract.

Thanks for the link.

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You didn't say that.

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