As I start my final week on the School Committee, I've thought a lot about the changes I've pushed for during my term (some successfully, others not so much so). And today blog readers brought two articles to my attention that I'm posting because these two really speak to two major issues I believe are essential.
First, there is a great column in today's New York Times on the benefits of having low income kids attend schools with higher income students (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/opinion/22herbert.html?_r=1&ref=opinion). The research cited in this article by the Century Foundation was precisely the research the School Committee considered in making this decision, and I'm very pleased to learn that other districts have already seen improved achievement from their own redistricting.
Second, there is an announcement (reported in Boston.com) that the State Board of Education has approved a plan that all MA colleges require 4 years of high school math (http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/03/22/mass_colleges_to_require_4_years_of_math/?p1=Local_Links). I have been, and continue to be, very concerned that Amherst Regional High School requires only 2 years of math (the state minimum): Our high school requires only two years of math and two years of science (compared to three years of social studies and four years of English), whereas many Massachusetts high schools require three years of both math and science (including Belchertown, Brookline, Cambridge, Hadley, Newton and Northampton). In fact, only 16% of high schools in MA have such a low requirement. This strikes me as a great time for our high school administration to recommend an increase in math graduation requirements to the Regional School Committee so that we clearly communicate the message to all kids that students from ALL backgrounds and ALL achievement levels can succeed in upper-level math classes.
My Goal in Blogging
I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.