Spring 2000

Spring 2000

This is only a test

Kids are the canaries in the mineshaft of education reform

It’s springtime, which has come to mean not only balmy weather and blooming flowers but MCAS testing in our public schools. In April, fourth-, eighth-, and 10th-graders took their tests in English composition. In May, these students will sharpen their Number 2 pencils for subject-matter tests in four areas: English Language Arts and Literature; Mathematics;(...)

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The Acid Test

At an event like the annual winter meeting of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, discussions of school safety or finance issues are as commonplace as the coffee-and-danish breakfast. But one mid-morning session carried a title more typical of gatherings at a hospital or community center. Echoing the same mix of anger, fear, resignation, and(...)

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Teaching to the Test

Inside Massachusetts public schools, MCAS has become a cyclone whose fury knows no bounds. In just two short years, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System has whipped up a mixture of hope, fear, and anger in thousands of students, teachers, administrators, and parents. In the short run, it has forced educators to recognize that students who(...)

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Battlin’ Bill Galvin

Once known as the 'Prince of Darkness,' Secretary of State Galvin has turned populist crusdader -- but to what end?

TO SEE JUST how good it’s gotten for Secretary of State William Galvin, consider the front-page Boston Globe headline one morning in early January, at the height of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care’s fiscal meltdown: GALVIN WANTS STATE CONTROL OF HMO AUDIT: DENUCCI ASKED TO OVERSEE PROBE. It was at once familiar and utterly remarkable. By(...)

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The Trouble With Harry Potter

What gets lost in the shift from books to screen and merchandise? The magic. My mother would have loved Harry Potter. This might not seem like much to J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling series about the life and times of a boy wizard in contemporary England. After all, she’s at the top of the(...)

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Five Ways to Reinvent Education

When it comes to education reform, two topics have dominated the debate on Beacon Hill of late–money and MCAS. What’s been lost is much discussion of what education reform was supposed to be about–actual changes in the classroom. So we went looking for some. CommonWealth checked out traditional public schools, charter schools, and private schools(...)

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A Fair Share for Continuing Education

In the evening, after a long day at work, an estimated 35,000 adults attend classes at Massachusetts community colleges, trying to further their education and their careers. These students take real academic courses, such as computer programming, business management, or English composition–courses that count toward graduation. In terms of academic quality, they are the same(...)

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New Englands Embattled Men of The Sea

Against the Tide: The Fate of the New England Fisherman By Richard Adams Carey Houghton Mifflin, Boston, New York, 1999, 381 pages. Many people hold two simultaneous images of the New England fishing industry. There is the romantic view, with pictures of beautiful fishing schooners like the Gertrude L. Thebaud and Canada’s famous Bluenose. This(...)

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Ted and Nancy Sizer on Schools and Morality

Schools teach more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. And we’re not just talking electives. In the way teachers and administrators conduct themselves, in the work they do and don’t do, in what they expect and what they tolerate in student behavior, schools teach lessons far more powerful than any formal curriculum. So say Theodore R.(...)

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Examining the books in Hopkington

Examining the books in Hopkington

HOPKINTON — Dr. John Duffy, who has been involved in Hopkinton politics for more than 30 years, says he’s never seen the town’s finances in such a mess. The bungled books have been scrutinized in investigative stories by The Boston Globe and the town has hired an outside accountant to sort out a long unresolved(...)

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