Board Meeting Notes
Next Executive Board Meeting: Oct. 17, 3:15, at SHS
To: S.T.A. Membership
From: John Gunning, S.T.A. President
I am sure that you have probably seen ads and stories in the media relating to the Charter Schools Campaign. The movement is in full swing and it is important to share some information relating to it.
We will have to call on members to help in the fight against this referendum that, if passed, would lift the cap on charter schools. There are bundles of cash from known and unknown contributors to the YES on 2 campaign; our strength is in the numbers of people we have who can reach out to family and friends and mobilize in an effort to say NO on 2!
If you are interested in getting involved contact Maureen Anderson or John Gunning. We need individuals in each building who would be “point people,” to assist in the effort.
There are a host of ways in which people can help out: putting a bumper sticker on their car; putting up a lawn sign; participating in a “stand out,” i.e. holding signs or leafleting at events around Town (or in their hometown; we have contacts in other towns that we can direct volunteers to); door-to-door canvassing of neighborhoods (again, either in Stoughton or in the towns in which teachers live); messaging friends on social media networks, etc. The idea is to reach out to the greatest number of people, therefore minimizing the time needed for each member to expend on the effort.
We are interested in identifying, within each of our buildings, staff members, teachers, and parents, who want to contribute to the effort in any way possible. No contribution or effort to the campaign is “too small.”
MTA is part of an alliance opposing this referendum. STA is working with: Josh Levit (MTA field representative), Sherley Phillips (MTA senate district coordinator), and Conor Newman (Save Our Public Schools) as organizers in the effort.
We are having a meeting at the Community Room of the Stoughton Police Department’s Headquarters at 26 Rose Street on Wednesday 8/31 at 3 pm for anyone interested in helping to organize or participate in the effort. Please stop by if you are able to do so. If you are unable to stop by on Wednesday, but wish to share organizing ideas, please do so by contacting Maureen or me at our respective e-mail addresses. We would love to get input from as many members possible.
Stoughton lost approximately $960K last year to charters. DESE has projections for this coming year that puts the number over $1M for Stoughton. In addition, within the past week, information was released by DESE about possible charter school expansion that will affect the SPS District.
The Foxborough Regional Charter School, which takes in students from Stoughton, is looking to expand its enrollment from 1300 to 1700.
There is also a new charter school planned to open in 2018. It is the Entrepreneurial Village, a Commonwealth Charter School. It will serve 360 K-5 students from Brockton, Stoughton, and Avon.
The MTA took out an ad in the Boston Globe regarding DDMs. Read it at:
Be sure to check out the Educator Impact Ratings and contact your legislator:
From: "MTA President Barbara Madeloni & Vice President Janet Anderson"
Ditch DDMs Now
Our students are more than their test scores, and so are you! We can ditch DDMs — but we need your action now.
Ask your legislators to get rid of the burdensome and harmful "student impact rating" mandate to judge educators based on MCAS scores and "District-Determined Measures." Also, spread the word on social media using the hashtag #DitchDDMs — and talk up the effort at end-of-year meetings and events.
Don't wait. We have two short weeks to persuade the House-Senate budget conference committee to back the Senate plan to get rid of the DDM mandate, hated by evaluators and those being evaluated alike.
If you live anywhere near Malden, please mark your calendar for a Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting on DDMs. The meeting will be held at 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, beginning at 5 p.m. on June 27. Stay tuned for more details.
SEI Endorsement and RETELL Advisory No. 15
No-Cost SEI Endorsement Courses
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is planning to provide a limited number of no-cost courses during the 2016-2017 school year to accommodate approximately 3,000 educators who, during the 2015-2016 school year, were eligible to enroll in a no-cost SEI Endorsement course and:
· Enrolled in a course that was subsequently canceled by the department.
· Added themselves to a wait-list but did not take a course because no seats became available, or
· Applied for and were granted a hardship extension by the department, or
· Received an ELL student for the first time during the 2015-2016 school year but did not have adequate time to enroll in a course.
DESE Notification to Eligible Educators Based on EPIMS and SIMS DATA
The DESE is currently communicating with educators who, based on EPIMS and SIMS data, are eligible for a no-cost course because they registered for a course that was canceled or wait-listed and didn’t get a seat. These eligible educators are being notified that they will receive a link to the registration system on July 15.
If you receive a notification and believe the information is incorrect because you did not work as a core academic teacher of an ELL student, please follow the instructions contained in the notification.
· Registration for fall and spring 2016-2017 opens on Monday, July 18, at 9 a.m.
· Fall registration closes on Friday, Sept. 9, at 5 p.m.
· Spring registration will remain open until mid-January.
What If You Were NOT Included in the EPIMS and SIMS Data?
Because EPIMS and SIMS data are not updated frequently, there are educators who registered for a course that was canceled or wait-listed and didn’t get a seat. The DESE is notifying these educators that they are eligible for a no-cost course, but the DESE does not have the data indicating they are eligible.
If you receive notification that you are eligible for a no-cost course but the DESE does not have the supporting data, you need to contact your school and district administration to request that it update the DESE roster in Dropbox so you will receive an invitation to register for a no-cost course.
If you did not register for a course but received an English language learner after September 2015, contact your school and district administration to request that it update the DESE roster in Dropbox so you will receive an invitation to register for 2016-2017.
The deadline for districts to update the DESE roster is June 24 at 4 p.m.
Who Is Not Eligible for a No-Cost Course?
You will not be granted an opportunity to participate in a 2016-2017 no-cost course if you:
· Previously registered for a no-cost course and either did not attend the course or did not complete the course successfully with a score of 70% or higher.
· Were previously assigned an ELL student during the first year(s) of the training window for your district (for Cohort 2 districts, this includes the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years; for Cohort 3 districts, this includes the 2014-2015 school year only) and you did not register or wait-list for a no-cost course during the training window.
· Are not a core academic teacher or administrator who supervises or evaluates core academic teachers of ELL students.
The department will be e-mailing those in the categories above with registration instructions for 2016-2017 school year courses, including those who received an ELL student after the close of spring 2016 registration. Read thoroughly and follow the instructions explicitly. You will need your MEPID, a valid personal e-mail address and use your full legal name to register for a course.
If your e-mail address will change prior to July, 2016, you should immediately update your ELAR profile with a valid permanent e-mail address. The department will use the e-mail address that is listed in your ELAR as of July 11, 2016, to contact you. Update your e-mail address in ELAR prior to this date.
If you anticipate that your last name will change, enter the last name that will be accurate as of the final course date.
Enter your first name exactly as it appears on your legal identification; do not enter a nickname. As long as you have entered your MEPID and legal first name correctly during registration, you will receive the SEI Endorsement upon successful completion of an SEI Endorsement course, regardless of whether the last name you entered upon registration matches the name listed for you in ELAR or EPIMs at the time that the course ends.
Will There Be Waitlists?
There will be no waitlists for 2016-2017. If a course is full, you will need to find another course.
Will There Be Summer Courses?
Summer courses will not be offered because the courses require educators to have access to a classroom.
Where Will the Courses Be Offered?
The DESE is making sure that it places enough courses to accommodate everyone within a reasonable distance. The department is starting courses a little later in the day in case participants have to drive a little farther to get to class.
Will There Be Bridge Courses?
There will be no bridge courses next year. The DESE is only offering the full teacher course or the administrator course. In fact, there will be no bridge courses anywhere, including the Collaboratives, going forward.
No restrictions will be placed the core academic license of anyone wait-listed for a spring 2016 course who could not take the course because seats were not made available or the course was canceled by the department.
No restrictions will be placed on a Cohort 1 educator who received an ELL for the first time during the 2015-2016 school year.
If you teach in a Cohort 1 district and are assigned an ELL in September 2016, you will have one year from the date of the assignment to earn the endorsement at your own expense.
According to the DESE, no restrictions will be placed on any educator license after Sept. 1, 2016.
Other Routes to the Endorsement
Other routes include taking the SEI MTEL test or by requesting a transcript review.
STA Statement of Support for Local Unions
At it’s monthly meeting on Monday, the Executive Board of the Stoughton Teachers Association agreed to issue this statement of support for members of the Stoughton Patrolmen’s Union, the Stoughton Superior Officers (IBPO Local 400), and the Stoughton Fire Fighters Local 1512, who have all taken votes of no confidence in the Town Manager, Michael Hartman. The Executive Board of the STA believes that our public safety officers, DPW employees, and all town employees deserve the utmost support and respect from the Town’s government. These brave and dedicated men and women certainly have the respect and support of Stoughton’s teachers. As stated in one of the petitions submitted to the Board of Selectmen, “the Town and its people deserve better than the adverse nature of the most recent events.”
Say No to PARCC
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meets this week to vote on PARCC and/or MCAS 2.0 . The Board will be making an important decision that will affect the direction of public education in Massachusetts. The decision will affect all public school students and teachers in the Commonwealth.
Please contact DESE Board and express your opinion regarding PARCC and the proposed moratorium on high-stakes testing.
If you cannot attend the DESE hearing in Malden on Monday, you can still weigh in with your opinion by sending an e-mail or letter to the Board members. It only takes a few minutes to do! Please take the time to do so. If you have ever complained about the nonsense and idiocy of high-stakes testing, this is your opportunity to tell the Board how you feel. Click on the link above and take a stand!
STA Calls for Moratorium on High-Stakes Testing
Resolution by the Stoughton Teachers Association
WHEREAS, our future well-being relies on a high-quality public education system that prepares all students for college, careers, citizenship and lifelong learning; and
WHEREAS, our school systems in Massachusetts and across the country have been spending increasing amounts of time, money and energy on high-stakes testing in which student performance on standardized tests is used to make major decisions affecting individual students, educators, schools and districts; and
WHEREAS, the overreliance on high-stakes and standardized testing in state and federal accountability systems is undermining educational quality and equity in U.S. public schools by hampering educators’ efforts to focus on the broad range of learning experiences that promote the innovation, creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and deep subject matter knowledge that will allow students to thrive in a democracy and an increasingly global society; and
WHEREAS, it is widely recognized that standardized testing is an inadequate and often unreliable measure of both student learning and educator effectiveness; and
WHEREAS, the overemphasis on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in too many schools, including narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, reducing a love of learning, pushing students out of school, driving excellent teachers out of the profession, and undermining school climate; and
WHEREAS, high-stakes standardized testing has negative effects on students from all backgrounds, and especially for low-income students, English language learners, children of color, and those with disabilities;
THEREFORE, let it be resolved that the Stoughton Teachers Association supports locally developed, authentic assessments and more time for educators to teach and students to learn;
THEREFORE, let it be resolved that the Stoughton Teachers Association calls on state and federal education policymakers to adopt a moratorium on the high-stakes use of standardized tests so that educators, parents and other members of our communities can work together to develop assessment systems that support positive teaching practices and better prepare students for lifelong learning.
Resolution adopted by the Executive Board of the Stoughton Teachers Association, representing the 350 members of the Stoughton Teachers Association.
June 1, 2015
ADDRESSING THE ISSUE OF IMPERFECT “ACCOUNTABILITY” RATINGS
Many students and teachers begin PARCC testing today. Marcia Gonzalez, a Stoughton parent and Brockton teacher, addressed the school committee Tuesday night (March 24th) to discuss leveling schools based on high stakes testing. Marcia was kind enough to give us a copy of her remarks to share here.
Good evening. My name is Marcia Gonzalez. I am a resident of Stoughton and the proud mother of three children who are now in their twenties and thirties and who all received a wonderful education in the Stoughton Public Schools starting with their first day in kindergarten at the Gibbons through graduation from Stoughton High. Thanks to all of you who worked so hard to educate our children.
In addition to being a mom, I am also a foreign language teacher at Brockton High School. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot in the local press about the levels of Stoughton’s schools. As an educator, I am deeply distressed about the unfounded conclusions and judgments that are being drawn based upon these ratings. While everyone seems to be buzzing about the levels, if you were to ask 100 people what it means to be level 1, you’d be lucky to find a handful who could explain.
According to the accountability ratings, schools are rated based upon the performance of the whole school and, also, with a focus on certain sub-groups including low income students, English language learners, students with disabilities and minority students.
This may sound reasonable but here’s how the accountability formula plays out in real life. Consider these scenarios:
One hundred and fifty students enroll in your schools midyear after a horrific earthquake in Haiti. As educators you welcome them with open arms. They come with nothing and no one gives you anything to help teach them – no extra funding, no books, no additional teachers or counselors, not even a desk or a chair. Your ratings are sure to go down but you don’t care. You’re an educator - you care about the child – not someone’s label.
An elementary school is rated level 3 with a focus on special education. This school has a substantially separate class with 5 students who are in the fifth grade. When the 5 students move up to the middle school, they are taken out of the elementary population and that school rises to a level 1. This is the result of a demographic change. The next year, it can reasonably be expected that the level of the middle school will drop.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found sports analogies to be helpful. Let’s assume that last year’s varsity basketball team had a starting lineup of all seniors who are over 6’ tall. Their season record was 19 and 1 and they won the league championship. It was a fantastic season. Now the lineup has graduated.
This year’s team is made up primarily of sophomores who are all less than 5’ 9” tall. Their season record is 9 and 11 and they didn’t make it to the quarterfinals. What does this tell us? It’s the same coaches, assistant coaches, drills, facilities, practice schedules and inspirational speeches.
So, what should the rating be? When we measure achievement, there’s a less than 50% win-loss record. When we measure growth, they went from a championship team to not making the quarterfinals. How do they compare to other teams across the state? This team would probably be downgraded from a level 1 to a level 3.
This analogy teaches us that we must always be mindful of the context and consider the myriad factors that impact student achievement and growth – most of which are beyond the control of educators.
The moral of the story is that no one should be labeled as a superstar or a failure based upon these very imperfect accountability ratings.
Educating a child is a complex endeavor that should never be superficially reduced to a single number.
It’s time to stop the rhetoric!
IS THIS HOW GOVERNMENT SHOULD OPERATE?
John Gunning, STA President, addressed the Stoughton School Committee, March 24, 2015
In mid-January, the Stoughton Teachers Association learned that Superintendent Rizzi and Deputy Superintendent Ford created a website advertising a new business venture: Level 1 Educational Consulting in which they are partners with three other Stoughton Public Schools’ administrators whom they supervise, evaluate and negotiate the terms of their employment contracts.
Several weeks ago, the Brockton Enterprise published an article about Superintendent Rizzi and Deputy Superintendent Ford’s business venture. It was through this article that the STA first learned that, according to Dr. Rizzi, Mr. Ford’s employment contract specifically gives him the right to do “consulting”.
We were befuddled when we heard this because the STA had a copy of Jonathan Ford’s current contract that runs through 2016 and nowhere was the word “consulting” mentioned. So, the STA decided to investigate by making a formal request for Mr. Ford’s current contract. When we received it, we were shocked.
With two years and three months remaining on his four year contract, Superintendent Rizzi gave Deputy Superintendent Ford a new six year contract - April 1, 2014 through March 31, 2020. There are only two signatories to this contract – Dr. Rizzi and Mr. Ford. It was effective beginning April 1, 2014 – one week before last year’s school committee election -- but it was not signed until April 21, 2014. Was this a shrewd and deceptive political move on the part of Dr. Rizzi and Mr. Ford? By making his employment contract retroactive to April 1st, the former school committee wouldn’t know about it AND by making his employment contract retroactive to April 1st ,the newly elected school committee might not be able to do anything about it. Does this sound on the level to anyone?
The terms of the new contract include the following: a minimum 2.5% raise for each of six years plus merit increases for “services rendered in a satisfactory or better manner”; full reimbursement for all graduate courses; an apparent reduction of responsibilities because “curriculum and instruction” have been removed from Mr. Ford’s job title and the word “consulting” has been inserted as a permissible activity.
The fact that this deal was negotiated behind closed doors and that the contract was never, to our knowledge, made public is a cause for concern. In spite of our best efforts, we have not been able to identify a single person, including any elected official, who knew that Deputy Superintendent Ford has a contract through 2020!
Is this how government should operate? Whatever happened to transparency and making sure that the work of government is done in the sunshine? Are the taxpayers’ interests being protected by their elected officials?
Is this how it works in other communities? The answer is “no”. Scituate recently renegotiated its Superintendent’s contract. According to the report in the Scituate Mariner, the contract expires on June 30th of this year. The Scituate School Committee is pleased with the Superintendent’s performance and gave him a new three year contract with a 3% raise in the first year. For the second and third year, the School Committee set a parameter of “up to 3%” for a raise. In Scituate, the raise for the second and the third year will be negotiated annually based upon performance. After they reach agreement, the raise must be voted in open session according to the school committee attorney, Michael Long, Esq. Scituate sets a ceiling of 3% subject to performance with annual reviews and a public vote on the raise. On the other hand, Stoughton sets a floor of 2.5% for each of six years and provides for merit raises above and beyond with no cap, and no one knows about it!
In closing, the STA is concerned that some school committee members have been defending the indefensible for so long that you are finding it difficult to change course and ask the tough, but necessary, questions. There is something very wrong going on here. You were elected to represent the citizens of Stoughton – not the superintendent and deputy superintendent. If you don’t demand transparency and stand up for what is right, you are part of the cover-up. By doing so, you will be doubling down on a bad bet.