Public Policy Updates

MASC reports on Massachusetts public schools, education news, school committee issues and updates from the Department of Education.

This information has been compiled by MASC Field Director Tracy Novick.

Novick Reports: April Board of Education

On April 18, 2017, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary met in Malden for their monthly meeting. You can find the meeting agenda here. The video of the meeting is posted here.

The meeting opened with comments from Chair Paul Sagan and Commissioner Mitchell Chester. Chair Sagan began by announcing that member Roland Fryer has resigned. (Members of the Board of Education are appointed by the Governor.) Sagan also opened a discussion regarding remote participation by Board members, something to which the Board will be returning.

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Novick Reports: Joint Ways and Means Committee Hearing on Education

There were two main themes that emerged in testimony at the education hearing before the Joint Committee on Ways and Means Wednesday, March 29 at UMass-Amherst: the impacts of issues outside the classroom on the classroom, and the need for funding reform in both K-12 and higher education.

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Novick Reports: March Board of Education Meeting

The March 28 meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education opened with Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester speaking of his recent visit to Washington with other heads of state school systems. He reviewed what Massachusetts receives in federal grant funds of the grants proposed for decrease or elimination by the Trump administration: we receive $40 million from Title IIA; $15 million in 21st century grant funds; and $6.7 million in Title IVA funds. Also the staff of DESE is 60% federally funded; 15 or 17 positions in the department are covered by the grants mentioned above. Chester further commented that with Secretary DeVos, "choice is front and center on her agenda."

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Novick Reports: February Board of Education

The Board of Education met Monday, February 27 and Tuesday, February 28. You can find the agenda here.

While I was not there on Monday night for the testimony, discussion, and votes on charter schools, it was fairly well covered by the press. The Board voted to approve the Plymouth charter (8-0-1), Old Sturbridge Village charter (5-4), and the Westfield charter (5-3-1), despite concerns around its Gulen ties. It approved all expansion plans except the plans for the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter, around which there was significant testimony around their lack of serving all students.

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Novick Reports: Implementation of the Foundation Budget Review

FBRC Meeting Photo with Speakers and Panel

On February 16, school committee members, superintendents, school business officials and others gathered in Holyoke for a panel discussion on the Foundation Budget Review Commission report and the prospects of its implementation. On the panel or represented were Rep. John Velis of Westfield, present, and then represented by Emily Swanson; Rep. Aaron Vega of Holyoke; Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose of Amherst; Senator Eric Lesser, represented by Joel McAuliffe; and MASC Field Director Tracy Novick.

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