Novick Reports: Board of Education, Southbridge, Charter Schools and more

The Board of Ed met this week at Roxbury Community College, after hearing testimony last night in Southbridge regarding the Commissioner's recommendation regarding Level 5 status (state receivership).

The big news first: the Board unanimously voted in favor of receivership for Southbridge, with several members citing the community's call for "help" at last night's hearing. Commissioner Chester becomes acting receiver immediately; he intends to appoint a permanent receiver by mid-February and suggested that he might appoint a non-profit, rather than a person, as the recever (which was not well received by several Board members).

In the other fraught vote, the Board voted 6-4 to revoke the charter of Dorchester Collegiate Academy. The school is Level 2, but the Commissioner had commented that he didn't see them making substantial enough progress, had concerns regarding leadership, felt that they had high rates of attrition, and also that they weren't serving a more needy population than the district, as their charter called for, all of which was heavily disputed by the school. I will comment that this vote was not a particularly assertive one; a number of members did not raise their hands immediately, and there was certainly a lot of back-and-forth regarding the vote. Members Noyce, Morton, Stewart, and Doherty voted against pulling the charter.

The Board started today by meeting jointly with the Board of Higher Ed. They first discussed college and career readiness with regards to civics, then discussed early college.

There were, as usual, some opening comments (short today, and largely testimony from DCA parents).

The report to the Board today was on graduation rates, and I should pass along the Commissioner's congratulations to your districts for good work (which he said at the meeting!).

The digital literacy/computer science standards are being sent out for comment. The science standards were (finally!) approved today.

There was also an initial discussion of revising the history and social studies standards. The Board laid out a timeline for that, which would bring the new standards back in 2018. Secretary Peyser pushed back on that, commenting that it was too long. DESE will come back with revisions of the timeline after they're had their initial public meetings on it. Note that this DOES involve adding a state assessment in history and social studies; that is projected to be done for the first time in the spring of 2020 (by this timeline).

And the Board will vote in February on new charter schools (should they be recommended by the Commissioner; there are four up for review) and additional charter seats. Note that there is a funny tie among the charters this time; the Board must take its first two charters approved from the lowest ten percent of districts; thus two of the charters (I suspect it's Sturbridge and Montachusett?) depend on the charters in Springfield and Brockton (correct me if I'm wrong on your status, please) being approved.

As per usual: errors mine, questions welcome!

- Tracy

Tracy O’Connell Novick
Field Director: Social Media 508-579-5472