Elementary and Secondary Education

Pool teachers not unwanted, just underutilized

Pool teachers not unwanted, just underutilized

Any suggestion we don’t teach is blatantly false

I’VE BEEN AN EDUCATOR IN BOSTON public schools for more than 30 years. I am a high school biology teacher, who holds a graduate degree from Harvard. I spent three years as a new teacher developer, one of 12 chosen from across the school district to mentor first-year educators. What has kept me motivated over(...)

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Testing isn’t punishment, it’s a matter of social justice

Testing isn’t punishment, it’s a matter of social justice

Moratorium on high-stakes assessments would set back minority and low-income students

LAST YEAR WHILE CASUALLY asking my son about taking his first MCAS exam as a third grader, he responded with an adverse physical reaction at the mere mention of the word MCAS. He literally flinched with fear. Now, I did sign many forms at the beginning of the school year, but I don’t recall the(...)

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School start times zero sum game

One day after the Boston School Committee voted unanimously to change school start times next fall so teenaged students could get a little extra sleep, Boston Magazine published a story asking what took so long. “Why, in a state that is at the forefront of progressive policy and respects science quite a bit …, did(...)

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We cannot test and punish our way to better schools

We cannot test and punish our way to better schools

Time to pause on high-stakes exams and take different approach

THE CLOSER THEY ARE to actual public-school classrooms, the more Massachusetts residents understand it’s time to abandon the failed test-and-punish approach to school improvement. For two decades, we’ve seen how high-stakes standardized testing hurts students and fails to prepare them well for life. Now, there’s a growing realization that it’s time to pause, look at(...)

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Editor’s note: Tang vs. Kerr

Editor’s note: Tang vs. Kerr

How much editorial license should opinion writers be given?

HERE AT COMMONWEALTH we are great believers in open debate; that’s why we run so many opinion pieces. But sometimes the debate becomes so spirited that people want us to step in and become referees. One such instance was the recent back and forth between Jessica Tang, the president of the Boston Teachers Union, and Liam Kerr,(...)

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Eminent domain dust-ups

Brookline says it needs a new elementary school to accommodate its bulging population of school-age children. Waltham says it needs a new high school. Both seem like perfectly worthy pursuits. But both cases are casting a harsh spotlight on a government right enshrined in the Constitution, but one that frequently stirs disention and protest. In(...)

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Where have all the children gone?

Where have all the children gone?

Students are disappearing in western and central Mass.

EVERY 10 YEARS, the Massachusetts Legislature must go about the arduous task of redistricting our House and Senate districts. Because of the continued shift in population within the state, each decade the districts creep farther toward Boston. The same is also true whenever Massachusetts loses a congressional seat.  In 1962, we had 14 congressional districts.(...)

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Moving beyond MCAS

Moving beyond MCAS

Current measures of school quality are incomplete, inaccurate

HOW ARE THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS in Massachusetts doing? Are they nurturing engaged thinkers who value learning? Are they expanding the way young people see the world? Are they fostering creativity? We want schools to do a great deal for young people. Yet most states, including ours, measure school quality chiefly through an absurdly narrow instrument:(...)

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Invest in young children now

Invest in young children now

Pre-K programs help parents and build workforce of future

Four years ago, after 20 years of a corporate career that I absolutely loved, I hung up my business suit and pursued a very different calling. It began when my husband Phil and I started looking for a preschool for our children. We visited programs , talked to preschool teachers, and tried to imagine our kids sitting(...)

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