Employer Support Key as Massachusetts Seeks Federal Education Money

Posted by Andre Mayer on Apr 14, 2010 11:56:00 AM

One of the key reasons that Massachusetts lost out in Round 1 of the Race to the Top (RTTT) contest for federal K-12 education funds was that only 60 percent of Bay State school districts supported a plan to improve the performance of the public schools. The two winning states submitted applications supported by 100 percent of their school districts.

Now local districts have a second chance to participate by signing the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education's Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  Has your district signed on? (Map | List )

Please use any influence you may have to get your city or town's schools on board, with all three signatories: the superintendent, the school committee, and the teachers' union.  Districts that do not sign on by the May 14 deadline cannot opt in later.  

Involvement by employers became imperative over the weekend when the American Federation of Teachers, Massachusetts, representing teachers in most of the state's largest cities, urged its affiliates not to sign on to MOUs and to withdraw their commitments from Round 1.

The financial stakes are significant - $250 million for Massachusetts, with at least half going directly to qualifying districts.  Even more important, the MOU commits districts to goals that are strongly supported by employers:

  • Improve teacher and principal effectiveness based on performance.
  • Ensure effective teachers and leaders in every school and classroom.
  • Use data to improve instruction.
  • Turn around the lowest-achieving schools.

Participating districts are also encouraged to join in a statewide P-12 Teaching and Learning System, and to partner with the state to develop and implement new programs, supports and incentives to improve students' preparation for college and careers.

The MOU allows considerable flexibility, and commits the state to supporting and working with districts. It takes effect only if RTTT funds are awarded.  It advances goals Massachusetts has already embraced.  And its underlying principles, such as student performance as a component of educator evaluation, have been agreed to on the state level not only by business associations but by groups representing school committees, school administrators and teachers - including both teachers' unions.

Massachusetts has some of the best schools anywhere, but the competition - national and global - is not standing still.  Help keep our state, and your district, at the forefront of educational excellence. 

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, AIM, Massachusetts Education Reform, Race to the Top

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