Chariho School Parents’ Forum

June 29, 2008

How our representatives vote on education choice

Filed under: School Choice — Editor @ 9:01 pm

hat tip to CP for pointing out that Best for Kids has posted the roll call on the vote for Mayoral Academies.   Here are the people who voted against the legislation.

Rep. Ajello (D-Providence)
Rep. Amaral (R-Portsmouth, Tiverton)
Rep. Church (Burrillville, North Smithfield)
Rep. DeSimone (D-Providence)
Rep. Diaz (D-Providence) < yet her own child went to a charter school!
Rep. Fellela (D-Johnston)
Rep. Ferri (D-Warwick)
Rep. Giannini (D-Providence)
Rep. Handy (D-Cranston)
Rep. Kennedy (D-Hopkinton, Westerly)
Rep. Lally (D-Narragansett, North Kingstown South Kingstown)
Rep. Lima (D-Cranston)
Rep. Long (R-Jamestown, Middletown)
Rep. Menard (D-Cumberland, Lincoln)
Rep. Moffitt (R-Coventry)
Rep. Pacheco (D-Burrillville, Glocester)
Rep. Palumbo (D-Cranston)
Rep. Rice (D-Portsmouth)
Rep. San Bento (D-North Providence, Pawtucket)
Rep. Savage (R-East Providence)
Rep. Segal (D-Providence)
Rep. Singleton (D-Cumberland)
Rep. Smith (D-Providence)
Rep. Sullivan (D-Coventry, West Greenwich)
Rep. Ucci (D-Cranston, Johnston)
Rep. Walsh (D-Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown, Wacerly) |
Rep. Wasylyk (D-North Providence, Providence)
Rep. Williams (D-Providence)
Rep. Winfield (D-Glocester, Smithfield)
It is disappointing that Rep Kennedy would oppose legislation that would allow another option for parents and it is disappointing that he would also go against the town council and the voters with his support for the Chariho bond.  But it shouldn’t be surprising.  If you check donation records you will find that not only does he receive donations from the NEA but he has given money to Greg Kenney when he ran against Senator Breene.  Kenney is also the chair of the Chariho building committee. 
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Chariho’s costs per student on the rise (RYSE?)

Filed under: Chariho,RYSE — Editor @ 12:46 pm

Last year we reported that RYSE costs per student were $57k and Chariho told us that number was inaccurate but failed to provided a complete cost analysis.  The Westerly Sun now tells us that the number is $67k per student.  Lets also not forget that RYSE admits that only 8 percent of its students are at grade level with math (this means that they can score a 62.5% or better on the test) but we graduate 100 percent of them.  

For Chariho, the report also shows a per-pupil cost by school. In 2006-07, In$ite calculated $67,837 for each of the 48 students enrolled in the $3.26-million Reaching Youth through Support and Education School, a clinical day school and alternative learning program that the district implemented in 2003.

The overall average per pupil spening is also up. 

Expenditures for instructional support, operations, leadership and other commitments – includ­ing capital projects – put the cost at $14,203 per district pupil for 2006-07. Chariho provided the previous fiscal year’s figures for 3,716 students to the Rhode Island Department of Education in February for the state’s In$ite report, an analysis of school dis­trict expenditures 

 

According to RIDE, all funding sources are included, such as fed­eral and state grants and state education aid. To determine a per­pupil cost, In$ite divided Chariho’s $52.78 million in total expenditures by its district-wide enrollment.

 

The bulk of instructional costs are classified as “face-to-face teaching” to describe money spent for teachers, substitutes and instructional paraprofessionals. The remainder of the $7,311­instructional price tag is for class­room materials.

 

From there, the per-student cost increased another $2,547 for pupil, teacher and program sup­port. Expenditures are tallied for student resources such as counsel­ing and library services, as well as curriculum development for teachers. Therapists, psycholo­gists and social workers are among services for program sup­port.

 

Operations costs tack on anoth­er $2,327 per district pupil. Those include transportation, food and safety services, along with facility costs and business expenditures, such as data processing

 

The report calculated $1,123 for “other commitments,” listed as contingencies, capital expenses, legal obligations (which had no cost listed) and out-of-district obli­gations, such as charter schools, retiree benefits and community service operations.\
And taxpayers pay $896 per district pupil for “leadershop” costs fo fund district administrators, the school committee and legal counsel.

 

The Sun goes on to say we aren’t that expensive compared to other RI regional districts.  As Barbara Capalbo once said, ‘Being the top of the swamp is nothing to be proud of.’ 

June 26, 2008

Running for Hopkinton Town Council

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 3:22 pm

In case you missed the south county section of the ProJo, I have thrown my hat into the ring for town council.  I will provide more details later, but briefly, my platform will be focused on two issues and one philosophy.

 

I expect to utilize my resources to fix education – not fix Chariho.  There is a difference.  Reforms such as school choice will improve education as a whole, thus improving Chariho in the process.  Whether the towns ends up settling for vouchers or something akin to the newly approved mayoral academies, additional choice for parents is the goal.

 

I will also continue to push for more open government.  Transparency, as exemplified with this website and the one sprung out of my day job (http://www.oceanstatepolicy.org/transparency.html).  Here and there you will find budgets, payrolls, employee contracts and the check registries.  Many places do one or more of those items on their own website but there is no reason that each town and school district can’t do them all.  I will also push for more transparency in contract negotiations. 

 

Finally, I cannot speak to each individual issue such as planning board or zoning issues, but you can rest assured that I will maintain to my “free-market” principals.  I am supportive of responsible development, and keeping the government out of our hair as much as possible.

 

Gotta run, but will post more as time goes.  Just wanted to give you the quick heads-up.

 

[UPDATE] – Someone emailed me asking if I thought there were problems in the town government that needed “transparency” which I replied no.  My commitment to open government is a philosophical one.  Actually, I’m looking forward, if I’m elected, to working on a board where I don’t feel that things are being hidden. 

 

 

June 24, 2008

K-6 and K-8 on the move

Filed under: grade spans — Editor @ 5:08 pm

Angus Davis, RI Board of Regent member has a blog called Best for Kids.  Here is an interesting post:

The ProJo has an article today on Cranston schools moving to a K-6 grade configuration, allowing the district to operate more efficiently with less staff. The question on whether K-6/7-9 is better than K-5/6-9 or K-8 is an open one. Some studies suggest K-8 has advantages. Nearby, Boston has moved to K-8 schools and Providence has indicated its desire to do so also. Just this week, Education Week published an article about a North Carolina study that found the advantages of K-8 models, yet cautioned whether the move to K-8 is worthwhile. This graph shows some disciplinary benefits for sixth graders in a K-8 setting (click to see bigger version):

The short answer: there is not much definitive data showing Cranston’s new grade configuration to be bad for students, yet there is a lot of financial data to suggest it will save district money, and there’s hope this new configuration may actually have some important benefits for sixth graders. We’ll have to wait and see.

June 16, 2008

HTC voucher presentation

Filed under: School Choice — Editor @ 11:23 pm

I gave a brief report on vouchers for the town council this evening. My intention was not to propose a system but to introduce the options. I also suggested that they create a panel to create a list of options.

I began be describing the process. The town collects approximately $8000 per student from local revenues. Another approx $4000 comes from the state. We could put a line of text into the Hopkinton Charter that says something to the effect of – ‘any parent that does not want their child attending Chariho or a charter school will receive an education voucher in the amount determined by the Hopkinton Town Council…’

There were several questions from the council – enrolment numbers, weighting formulas, participation with chariho, bond obligations, transportation, legal authority, homeschoolers and others I’m probably forgetting. Use this post to ask questions and I will try to answer. Here is what we did cover.

I was asked to get raw enrolment numbers. I suggested that we could get census data to find the number of school aged kids, then pull out Chariho, and estimated home schoolers and drop-outs. This could give us a rough estimate of the number of kids in private schools. The church may also be able to provide estimates.

Weighting formulas. This is most common with special ed or English Second Language students in other schools. A formula has been developed for the state that weights students. A ‘regular ed’ student uses a multiplier of 1. A 504 student might be 1.10. A student with an IEP might be 1.25. And RYSE students are already calculated when we tuition in a child from outside the district (approx $50,000).

Participation with Chariho. There is no reason for us NOT to continue our partial ownership and participation with Chariho. Even if, and this is nearly impossible, but even if 100% of Hopkinton students left Chariho, we would still have ownership from our previous investment. We just wouldn’t be paying them any money because we pay on enrollment. If it ever got to this point I would suspect that the other towns would protest and try to force us to change the Chariho Act. Wouldn’t that be an interesting turn of the table.

This was a concern in the last bond. It said we would pay 1/3 of the bond. So even if all of our kids left Chariho, we would still be obligated to pay 1/3 of the debt if that bond language was approved.

Transportation. RI is unique in that the current law requires that the local public district provide transportation for a student to go to any school in the region (larger than the district). So transportation would continue to be covered by the district – HOWEVER- If you recall a previous school committee meeting, we found out that we pay $442 a day ($78k to $98k per year) to run a small bus up to providence with 1-2 students. At that time we suggested that Ricci go to the parents and ask them if we could buy them a new car if they could get the kid to Providence every day (tongue in cheek but it would be much cheaper). Nothing happened and when I asked Ricci about it he said that they had not done anything because transportation is going to become a statewide expense. So to answer the concern brought up by Bev Kenney, if transportation goes the way suggested by Ricci, it won’t be an issue for the voucher program.

Legal authority. The Zelman case (listed in footnotes of letter below) said that as long as a parent has 100% control over the where the money is spent then there is no church and state violation.

RI constitutional law supports this ruling:

“except in fulfillment of such person’s voluntary contract”

And Bowerman notes that the RI’s Compelled Support Clause is no more restrictive than the federal Establishment Clause.

So the feds say its ok, the RI constitution uses similar language and case law says we can’t use CSC to a greater restriction than the EC.

Home Schoolers. Personally, I would like to offer reimbursement to home schoolers for expenses. But having spoken with a couple of them, I think they would only take it if it is guaranteed to NOT come with any restrictions or reporting requirements. We do provide them with books, but it’s not always done. They do have travel expenses for trips besides the normal assortment of pencils, paper, etc that could be part of the program.

There were other questions but those were the bulk of it. Basically, the town makes two decisions – 1) who will get vouchers and 2) for how much. As an example, do you provide a small voucher for everyone, including people who are already in a public school? Or do you provide larger vouchers for just a small population, perhaps parents who make less than $XXX. There are many variations of vouchers and I tried to just provide options without putting too much of my opinion on what features to use.

Town Manager Bill DiLibero asked the practical financial worst case scenario question (which we should expect from his position). If we had 50 students already in private school and we gave out $4000 vouchers – that would total $200,000 in new expenses. We would need 50 students to leave Chariho in order to save enough money to pay for vouchers for all 100 students. I suggested that in many areas they mean-test the vouchers for a period of time to allow the savings to take hold. It stands to reason that most kids in private schools now are in higher income homes (simply because of the costs). By means testing eligibility for the first year or two, it will essentially grandfather in the parents for enough time for the parents to react to the vouchers.

There are several options – some vouchers aren’t vouchers at all but simply tax credits. Some vouchers are only good for special ed – some for those under poverty times X – many many options.

Finally, there was one negative concern from the public, Doreen Dolan to be specific. She expresses the same concerns as does commenter CharihoParent. She did not want her taxes going to a religious establishment that she might not agree with. I explained that it currently already happens but she said it was just her property taxes that she was concerned about. So I tried to explain that taxes are fluid and money paid to the state has an impact on money given and gotten from the feds and one should look at all taxes in the same light – but that didn’t change her position. So then I explained the law and that these are settled issues. It is understood that taxes are fungible and all our money already goes to Muslim, Catholic, and anti-religious exploits such as the famous “Piss Christ” piece of “art.” Anything that is non-profit by definition is subsidized by taxes. I did not bother to explain that there are parents here who do not like their money going to support certain social advocacy groups at Chariho. I don’t think it would have mattered.

Finally, I offered the resources that I had found – for legal help there is the Friedman Foundation and the Institute for Justice. I also said I was willing to look for a school to occupy the 1904 building if we get to that point.

I hope that the council decides to move forward with this option. You might consider telling them how you feel.

A funding option for the Hopkinton Town Council

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 12:00 am

I will be making a presentation to the Hopkinton Town Council tomorrow night. Here is the letter sent:

June 9, 2008
Hopkinton Town Council
One Town Hall
Hopkinton, RI 02833

Dear members of the Hopkinton Town Council:

I would like to present an education funding option for the children of Hopkinton and, briefly explain why this option is necessary and important to our town and our children.

The Rhode Island education system’s per pupil spending is the 9th most costly in the nation (1).  Our per-pupil spending on salaries and benefits is the nation’s highest (2). Preliminary research suggests that RI spends 34% more than the national average educating our children (3).

What has all of this money gotten us?  As frequently reported, this year’s New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) showed that only 22% of RI students could score a 62.5% or better on the math portion of the test.  The education standards have dropped so low that this score which once would have been a D-, is now called “proficient.” Chariho was slightly better at 29% but in a state with the largest city having the “third poorest urban area in the country” (4), we should not compare Hopkinton to Providence or Central Falls and we should not be content with less than one-third of our children able to pass a math test.

Rhode Island is low on national standards (5), and Chariho is low on equivalent RI standards.  As a mater of fact, the three towns comprising the Chariho School District (Hopkinton, Richmond and Charlestown) have fewer indicators of “risk” than do Westerly, South Kingstown, North Kingstown, Exeter and West Greenwich, our geographic peers (6), yet our student performance is the worst of the bunch (7).  This indicates that Chariho is underperforming compared to its demographic cohorts.

There is no other way to describe it; we have high costs for low performance.  We see this in many areas in RI but education has a direct impact on our children and the future of our society – this should be our first priority.  We are doing a disservice to our children.  You, as members of the Hopkinton Town Council have it in your power, and I would suggest it is your duty, to change the education dynamic.

I would like to respectfully request that Hopkinton take it upon itself to empower parents with the freedom of choice by implementing a voucher system for education. 

A voucher system would improve the education system and deliver immediate results.  By allowing parents the same power of consumer choice as we all use when purchasing a car, groceries or the services of a doctor, we will generate competition that incentivizes performance and create choice that provides for the individual needs of all children, including those with special needs and special talents.  We cannot expect a monopoly like the current public education system to be sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of every child in our diverse community, but we give those parents and children no good option.

The utilization of vouchers will not only improve education but could also save the town a considerable amount of money. Chariho averages over $12,000 per student and as much as $52,000 for the average RYSE student (8).  Private school tuitions can be as little as 1/3 the price.  By providing a voucher that is capped at a percentage of the Chariho expenditure we can ensure that a voucher system will be at the very least fiscally neutral and will most likely save the town and the taxpayers a significant amount of money.

There will be many, if not most parents who will elect to stay at Chariho.  A recent study by one of my business affiliates determined that as little as 10% of the parents looked at 2 or more schools when selecting their child’s school (9).  But considering the current discontent with Chariho, I believe our participation will be higher.

The more participation we have, the more money we could save and the better educated our children will be.

The mechanism of providing consumer choice is allowed by both federal and state law. In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that vouchers, even when used for parochial schools, are constitutional (10) and the RI Constitution has language equivalent to that decision (11);
        “[N]o person shall be compelled to frequent or to support any religious worship,
place, or ministry whatever, except in fulfillment of such person’s voluntary contract …”
 
Rhode Island Case law (12, 13) and statute (14) support the ability to provide choice in education as well.  The Hopkinton Town Council has within its power the ability to place a voucher option in the Town Charter. More importantly, it is the obligation of the council to do its best to provide for a suitable and effective education and to do so while promoting the interests of the taxpayers.

A voucher system will not restrict people from staying at Chariho, it will not necessitate withdrawal from the District, and it will not require a change to the Chariho Act.  But it will empower parents with consumer choice and it can provide a better education for our children.  The possibility of saving money is nice too.

Those who may utilize the voucher system and leave Chariho are not asking for more money or to force anyone else to make a change. In fact, with the discounted cost of a private education that we might choose, the dollars available for each public school student remaining in the system could increase. We are simply asking that we be given an option other than the public schools that seem to be failing, and we are asking for that choice right now, when it can actually help out children.

I would be happy to provide more details or answer questions regarding this proposal.  I would also be willing to provide cost and enrolment change estimates as well as utilize my resources to implement the program and attract education options into the area.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Bill Felkner

1 RIPEC – How Rhode Island School Finances Compare
2 ProJo OpEd, Dec., 12, 2005 – Tom Coyne, Stop the R.I. ripoff in education, welfare
American Federation of Teachers
3 Ocean State Policy Research Institute – Brian Bishop, The Costs of Immigration
4 Bob Walsh quote on Lively Experiment
5 National Assessment of Educational Progress
6 Kids Count data on poverty, parent education, parent employment and family structure.
7 New England Common Assessment Program – Chariho vs demographic cohorts
8 National Center for Educational Studies
9 Wisconsin Policy Institute – Fixing the Milwaukee Public Schools: The Limits of Parent-Driven Reform 10 Zelman v Simmons-Harris, (00-1751) 536 U.S. 639 (2002)
11 Rhode Island Const. Art. I, § 3
12 Bowerman v. O’Connor, 247 A.2d 82 (R.I. 1968 )
13 Exeter-West Greenwich Regional School District v. Pontarelli, 460 A.2d 934 (R.I. 1983)
14 Rhode Island General Laws Section 16-2-19

June 15, 2008

Jindal gets vouchers

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 11:14 pm

Louisiana Governor Jindal (a Brown Graduate) makes good on his campaign promise for school vouchers. News from the State Net Capital Journal reported over at OSPRI (www.oceanstatepolicy.org/blog).

PS. I would hope this puts Jindal farther up on McCain’s short list. I have heard that empowering the parent is on McCain’s agenda.

Mayor’s Academy clears a hurdle

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 12:46 am

A message from Angus Davis:

RI Charter Movement Makes Long Overdue Advance Thanks to Leadership of Mayor McKee

Last year, I met Mayor Dan McKee (D-Cumberland), an enthusiastic education reformer who inspires me with his well-informed, energetic hope for new public schools of choice in Rhode Island that could raise student achievement without increasing costs to taxpayers. Mayor McKee is not afraid to grab onto what so many consider a third rail in politics: structural reform of our public schools.

McKee joins a growing number of mayors that includes Adrain Fenty in DC, Mike Bloomberg in NY and Cory Booker in Newark who are making bold education reform strides. McKee, together with a coalition of Rhode Island mayors he assembled representing Central Falls, Lincoln, Pawtucket, Johnston, North Providence and Cranston, commissioned a study by nationally respected firm Public Impact, and proposed “Mayoral Academies,” a new type of charter school for Rhode Island. (See Providence Journal, June 4, 2008: “Try mayoral academies in R.I.”)

The proposal would allow Mayors to seek a charter in partnership with operators like KIPP, Uncommon Schools, Achievement First and Democracy Prep – proven non-profit organizations that close the achievement gap in neighboring states. Mayors follow the same authorization process and are subject to the same accountability oversight as all other charter schools. To allow extended school day, higher pay for performance, and assignment of the best teachers, this budget-neutral bill exempts Mayoral Academies from some onerous restrictions in the current charter statute pertaining to teacher tenure, prevailing wage restrictions, and forced participation in a defined benefit retirement system. The bill is budget neutral and enjoys bipartisan support of the legislative leadership and the Governor’s office.

Enthusiastically endorsed by respected columnist and education advocate Julia Steiny (“It’s time to open the doors to out-of-state school models”, June 1, 2008), the work has also attracted national attention, gaining support from The Center for Education Reform in Washington, DC., and Democrats for Education Reform in New York, a Federal PAC that supports Democrats willing to take on such issues, and several other notable groups who in the coming days plan to make their support known to Rhode Island.

For years, the charter movement in our state has been stymied by a ban on new charters, a cap on their number, an absent funding formula to allow them to grow in a cost neutral manner, a lack of involvement from mayors, and a long list of restrictions on how they can operate. Our charter community measured success not by progress, but by the absence of loss — that is to say, we celebrated when funds that had already been committed to charters were not taken away.

“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” How thankful we should all be, then, that Mayor McKee asked and persisted, because last night, the leadership of the Rhode Island General Assembly answered “yes” to his call by putting Mayor McKee’s proposal to authorize “Mayoral Academies” into this year’s proposed budget and passing it out of the House Committee on Finance thanks to the leadership of Chairman Steven Costantino (D-Providence).

This was no small task. For years, attempts to end the charter moratorium have failed. But Mayor McKee enlisted a broad coalition of support. The legislation is strongly sponsored by Majority Leader Gordon Fox (D-Providence) and Majority Whip Peter Kilmartin (D-Pawtucket). It also enjoys the support of Providence Mayor David Cicilline.

Now attention turns to next week’s floor vote in the House, and the subsequent vote in the Senate. This could very well be the year the ban on charter schools in our state comes to an end, that Mayors take ownership of education reform in their communities, and that onerous restrictions in our charter law (ranked one of the weakest in the country) are finally eliminated.

Please join me next week as I and other supporters visit the State House to lobby for the passage of this bill — email me so I can share our plans with you (after our visit to the State House, we will organize a BBQ at my nearby home). Thanks to the leadership of Mayor Dan McKee and the support of our General Assembly Leadership, a new day could soon dawn for the charter movement in Rhode Island. Now more than ever, I need your help to make that day a reality.

Click to email me about joining a State House lobbying trip next week to expand charter schools in Rhode Island!

Thanks for listening, and I look forward to keeping in touch. Please feel free to forward this email; if you received this email from a friend and would like to be added to my list, simply drop me a line and I will add you.

Thanks,
-angus

Note: Although I serve on the Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education, the views expressed herein are my own, and not those of the full board.

For an archive of posts on RI education reform issues, see the Best for Kids blog, “Passing Notes,” at: http://blog.bestforkids.org/

June 11, 2008

Leadership and competition: Keys to effective school reform

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 1:28 pm

My friend Jim Stergious has a must read in the Providence Journal today.

JIM STERGIOS

BOSTON

NEW school superintendents will be taking over in urban districts across Massachusetts, including New Bedford, Lowell, Springfield and Worcester (and, in Rhode Island, Providence). But how much change will they really bring?

History tells us the likely answer is “not much.” We’ll probably get a lot of hand-wringing about teacher quality and how rigid union work rules obstruct progress. These are valid concerns, but it’s too easy to blame teachers for failing schools. Only leadership will bring change — and real opportunity for inner-city students.

Change requires a superintendent and a mayor. In New York, Mayor Bloomberg and school chancellor Joel Klein are implementing bold, results-oriented reforms. But of late, even more attention is focused on the most unlikely of places: Washington, D.C.

Despite spending over $15,000 per student, the city’s schools have for years suffered from declining enrollment, low test scores and a graduation rate of less than 60 percent. But today, a miracle is occurring in our nation’s capital.

Mayor Adrian Fenty ran on fixing the schools, and after taking control of the school board, he hired Michelle Rhee, a 37-year-old Korean-American who came out of Teach for America teacher corps. At her swearing in, she declared: “What we are embarking upon is a fight for the lives of children.”

The mayor has given her the green light to go “100 miles an hour” and said that any city personnel blocking her progress will be fired.

Rhee cut 100 people from a central office top-heavy with bureaucracy. With system enrollment less than half what it was in 1960, she announced the closure of 23 under-performing, under-enrolled schools.

“Firing people is not going to solve the problem,” says Rhee, who proposes to plow the savings from those closures back into the schools in the form of new social workers, art and music teachers, literacy coaches and extracurricular activities. “What’s going to solve the problem is creating a culture of accountability in the central office first and then eventually everywhere in the school district.”

Rather than complain about federally mandated benchmarks, Rhee is restructuring 26 other schools that have failed to meet them. Using the options laid out in the No Child Left Behind law, she has tailored remedies to the individual needs of each school. She is replacing many of the principals, some teachers and outsourcing the management of other schools to nonprofit managers.

Fully one-quarter of public schools in the District are charter schools. Eliminating the system’s monopoly has transformed public education in Washington. Instead of opposing Rhee’s changes, D.C. union President George Parker supports a collaborative approach. The reason is simple. As he told The Washington Post, “If we don’t get on the ball in terms of improving our schools, charters will have a majority of our students.”

Rhee doesn’t suggest dismantling the public school system or even turning all the schools into charters. Her focus is on attracting and retaining the best teachers. “If you are not willing to say that despite all of [the obstacles], I am going to make my kids succeed at the highest levels,” she declares, “this might not be the district for you.”

To attract those teachers, she is currently negotiating a teachers’ contract that she says will “revolutionize education as we know it.” It will reportedly eliminate seniority, allowing teachers to be placed based on their qualifications. The change would provide an important tool for recruiting young teaching talent.

To retain talent, Rhee is looking at differentiated compensation based on improvements in student performance. Last year, teachers at one school that made significant gains on the city’s standardized test were given bonuses.

Rhee hopes that “everything that we do will have reverberations across the country.” We hope so, too. Mayors, superintendents — we need you. Now. The Commonwealth is the nation’s public-education leader. If schools can be transformed in what was known as one of the worst school districts in the country, it can certainly happen in urban districts across Massachusetts.

It all comes down to the simple question Rhee asked Fenty before she took the job: “What would you risk . . . to change the school system?” Without missing a beat, Fenty replied, “Everything.”

Leadership means everything.

Jim Stergios is executive director of Pioneer Institute, a Massachusetts public-policy think tank.

June 10, 2008

VOTE!

Filed under: 1 — Editor @ 12:49 pm

There is a vote today at Hopkinton Town Hall for the budget and a road bond. It is my understanding that they have taken the road portion of the total budget and placed it in a bond. This may be a simplistic explanation and HTC members reading this are welcome to set us straight.

Either way, get out there and vote!

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