Sunday Notes Feb. 14th 2016


We learned Thursday that the Supt. has started to develop some Strategic goals and starting to share them. Strategic goals begin to develop for Lowell schools

According to the Sun one aspect is more parent involvement:

Among the parent and community engagement group, task force members discussed effective communication to parents — particularly those who don’t speak English.

“We thought that we needed to streamline communication to all parents,” said parent Ben Opara, who served in that group. “Have that in every school, to all parents and families.”

The group also suggested a Parent Teacher Organization and School Site Council for every school building in the district.

The group argued that there should be a strategy for School Site Councils, which are mandated by the state, Opara said.

School Site Councils have been mandated since the Education Reform Act went into effect but in my view School Committee’s and Superintendents have never made the effort nor have made them a priority because , to a large degree, it gives power to Principals and parents which they see has threats to their power. According to the Dept of elementary and Secondary Education on School Councils.

Who is responsible for organizing a school council?

The law explicitly gives the school principal responsibility for defining the composition and overseeing the formation of the council pursuant to a representative process approved by the superintendent and school committee. As co-chair of the council, the principal is also responsible for convening the first meeting of the council. At this meeting, the other co-chair is to be selected.

To whom do councils report?

Councils are to assist principals by reviewing the school building budget and developing the school improvement plan. Councils may also take on other responsibilities, including policymaking, as granted by the local school committee. Councils’ school improvement plans are submitted to the local school committee for review and approval.

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a motion to create a representative process for school site councils in the past four years and cannot find any process on the Lowell School Dept. Website. Ed reform gives parents a strong voice if they are encouraged and allowed to use it.

Parents “shall have parity [equality] with professional personnel on the school councils.” Regardless of the size of the council, the number of parent representatives must be equal to the number of professional school personnel who serve on the council that is, teachers plus the principal. For example, if a council has three teachers and one principal (i.e., 3 + 1=4 professional educators) there must be four parent representatives for parity.

v The membership of school councils (teachers, parents, and others) “should be broadly representative of the racial and ethnic diversity of the school building and community.”

Current School Committee member Jackie Doherty reminded us the other night at the CPC meeting that back when the original CPC started most Lowell schools had School Site Councils and was surprised to hear how few now have them.

In my view ( and my view only) Before we can have any real strong Citywide Parent Council, we need to first have strong, school based Site Councils.

Nangle champions Charter Schools! Will Golden and Mom follow?.. From the Sun story…

Baker’s charter-school bill turns up heat on pols

State Rep. Tom Golden, a Democrat representing precincts in Lowell and Chelmsford, said he

isn’t ready to make a decision on the bill just yet.

Rep. Rady Mom, a Lowell Democrat, issued an email to The Sun, saying he will “look forward to debating the role charter schools play in our commonwealth’s educational landscape with my colleagues in the House and Senate.”

In favor of the bill, though, is state Rep. David Nangle, a Lowell Democrat. He said he believes it would give financially struggling parents in urban centers a choice where to send their children to school. If the in-district school is underperforming, parents can look to another option for their children, similar to the choice affluent families have in considering private schools for their children, he said.

“To me, it’s always a question of equity, not dollars,” Nangle said. State Sen. Eileen Donoghue, a Lowell Democrat, said a more effective bill is one that isn’t limited to just charter schools.

“We need to look broadly and see if we can come up with a bill that’s going to address the needs of all,” she said. “We expect to be doing that in the next couple of months.”

Hopefully Golden and Mom if they don’t follow the suggestion of Sen. Donoghue and help create a bill that isn’t limited to charter schools will at least push for some recommendations of the foundation Review Committee and get a little more money for Lowell Public Schools.

Has a parent whose son went to a Charter School in grades 5-8 I didn’t see any great difference in his education other than during the first two years it felt like the kids learned at their own pace and the classroom wasn’t so strictly set up, that changed with a new Principal who made it more like a public school.

School Committee must be clear to public before ratifying UTL contract

The School Committee canceled this week’s meeting due to school vacation week but I believe at their next meeting they will have to publicly ratify the contract they agreed to with the UTL. Andy Decouteaux did not and cannot vote on it since he was still teaching during the time period this covers.

The rest of the Committee owes it to the parents to be 100% clear and transparent as to what cuts could be coming due to this contract. My understanding is the Supt. stated he has cuts in mind should the need arise. All these cuts need to be clear.

The last School Committee was adamant that the school dept. could NOT afford this type of increase and that cuts would be required. It is only proper and fair to parents and the former committee members to disclose if this agreement includes possible cuts.

The City has made huge strives in over achieving the required Net school spending and I can’t imagine that they are in position to give more dollars. They will in all likelihood increase their contributions because the city has to buy the modular classrooms not the school department.

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