Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Salem School Advocates Question Quick Formation of District Parent Advisory Council

The following letter was sent to the Salem School Committee from Community Advocates for Salem Schools (CASS) regarding the SC's vote this week to form a District Parent Advisory Council. CASS is a group of parents and community members organized as a city-wide education advocacy group currently comprised of approximately 75 members and has been meeting since late April.

Dear School Committee Members
Several weeks ago, before the recent budget crisis, a group of very concerned parents and community members came together to discuss forming a city-wide parent and community advocacy group. This group, Community Advocates for Salem Schools (CASS) has been meeting now for three weeks, and each meeting has been announced on Facebook and is open to anyone who wishes to attend. It is specifically designed to be inclusive. The rationale behind this group was to provide parents and community members with a cohesive voice in regards to the Salem Public Schools. This group is largely made up of people who have felt ill-informed, who have not been well-served by the policies created by the Central Office and School Committee, whose children are struggling in this rigid system and who have been, up to this point, unheard, disregarded, and left to feel as if they've had nowhere to turn.
At last night’s School Committee meeting the Mayor announced her intention to form a District Parent Advisory Council (D-PAC), after reaching out to “certain parents.” This has caused some consternation for us, not least of all because the parents in this group will be appointed. The problem with appointees is that they are often selected to further the agenda of the person who makes the appointment. This is why if this D-PAC should be formed through the democratic process of an open vote, as that is how voices are heard. There are already many concerns regarding the democratic process within the School Committee, not least of all the vote on the D-PAC which was not on the formal agenda last evening
We are very concerned that this group will be nothing more than “Parents Cabinet” designed to disseminate only select information to the community. Equally concerning is the speed in which this cabinet came about. To our knowledge, it was first mentioned in a letter to Schools PTOs yesterday afternoon, and then less than twelve hours later, without even having a place on the agenda, voted on to be implemented with the Mayor offering to take control to get it launched. While we would like to assume that the intentions behind the formation of this council are good, please understand, this school committee has created such a culture of distrust within the community that we cannot assume that this is the case.
We believe that feedback must come from the ground up, not from a select few; all parents must be heard regardless of whether or not their views align with your agenda. It is we, the parents, who are the ones who are truly in this “for the good of the children.” We are committed to our schools, our teachers, our children, and our community, and our advocacy group will continue to meet and we intend to grow this at the grassroots level. To truly show us that you are committed to the democratic process, we ask that you not only give those with aligning views the chance to be heard – you must also meet with and listen to those that oppose your policies so that you can figure out how to best serve the entire community and build the bridges to those that have been long neglected.
Community Advocates for Salem Schools

Thursday, May 14, 2015

2015 Lynn Municipal Election Season Starting

This fall Lynn voters will have the opportunity to cast their vote for local city government. Races this year include Councilor At-Large, School Committee and all 7 ward races; there is no mayoral race this year. While political hopefuls have until June 26th to take out nomination papers, a number of Lynners have already announced their intention to appear on the ballot this year.

As of April 29th, eight people have pulled papers for the Councilor At-Large race. Voters will have the opportunity to elect four of these candidates. Incumbents Dan Cahill, Buzzy Barton and Hong Net have all pulled papers. Additionally, current School Committee member Rick Starbard has joined the At-Large race. The other potential candidates are Jose Alvarez, Edwin Soto, Brian LaPierre, and Posan Ung. Ward 7 Councilor Rick Ford initially announced his intention to run for an At-Large seat and pulled nomination papers but ultimately decided to sit this election out.

[ETA 5/15]: The Daily Item reported on May 15th that former City Council President Tim Phelan has also pulled papers to run for Councilor At-Large. He vacated his council position in 2013 after an unsuccessful campaign for mayor. 

In the School Committee race, eight Lynn residents have pulled nomination papers for the six committee seats. In addition to incumbent Rick Starbard, current SC member Charlie Gallo also announced that he was not running for re-election. Patricia Capano, Donna Coppola, Maria Carrasco and John Ford, on the other hand, are seeking another term this year. Newcomers in this race are Jared Nicholson, Natasha Megie-Maddrey, and Michael Ouk as well as 2013 SC candidate Lorraine Gately.

[ETA 5/16]: A ninth potential School Committee candidate pulled nomination papers on May 12th. Former SC candidate Dolores DiFillipo pulled papers this past week in order to enter the race. DiFillipo previously ran for School Committee in 2009 and 2011.
Potential  candidates in the Ward races thus far are as follows:

Ward One
  • Wayne Lozzi (Incumbent)
Ward Two
  • William Trahant (Incumbent)
Ward 3
  • Darren Cyr (Incumbent)
  • Calvin Anderson
Ward 4
  • Richard Colucci (Incumbent)
  • Rick Borten
  • Ariana Murrell-Rosario
Ward 5
  • Diana Chakoutis (Incumbent)
  • Marven-Rhode Hyppolite
Ward 6
  • Peter Capano (Incumbent)
Ward 7
  • John Jay Walsh
  • Brian Field

Candidates have until Monday, June 29th at 4pm to file their nomination papers. The preliminary election this year will be held on Tuesday, September 1st with the final election to be held on Tuesday, November 3rd.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Massachusetts Charter School Graduation Rates 2014

Below are the graduation rates for Massachusetts charter schools in 2014. Also listed are the number of students in each charter's graduation cohort (cohorts are not the number of students who graduated but the total group of students who should have graduated from a particular school in a given year). This data takes into account students who either transfer into a school at some point during high school or transfer in. Graduation rates at charters in the state ranged from 5.5% to 100%; cohort samples ranged from 6 students to 185; the average grad rate was 75.8% and cohort size 56.


# in Cohort Graduation Rate
Abby Kelly Foster 87 97.7%
Academy of the Pacific Rim 34 85.3%
Advanced Math and Science Academy 101 99.0%
Amesbury Academy 6 50.0%
Berkshire Arts and Technology 24 45.8%
Boston Collegiate 36 77.8%
Boston Day and Evening 158 16.5%
Boston Green Academy Horace Mann 68 75.0%
Boston Preparatory  39 66.7%
City on a Hill 49 73.5%
Codman Academy 35 85.7%
Community Charter School of Cambridge 36 80.6%
EMK Academy for Health Careers Horace Mann 46 97.8%
Four Rivers 36 88.9%
Foxborough Regional 61 95.1%
Francis W Parker Charter Essential 67 91.0%
Global Learning 20 95.0%
Hampden Charter School of Science 29 96.6%
Innovation Academy 52 92.3%
Lowell Middlesex Academy 73 5.5%
MA Academy for Math and Science 49 100.0%
Martha's Vineyard Charter 7 57.1%
MATCH Charter 42 66.7%
Mystic Valley Regional 82 96.3%
North Central Charter Essential 41 78.0%
Phoenix Charter Academy 86 15.1%
Pioneer Charter of Science 47 97.9%
Pioneer Valley Performing Arts 68 82.4%
Prospect Hill Academy 60 85.0%
Sabis International 104 98.1%
Salem Academy 35 88.6%
Salem Community Charter 13 7.7%
South Shore Charter 36 94.4%
Sturgis Charter 185 94.4%

Source: http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/state_report/gradrates.aspx

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lynn Dropout Rates 2014

Along with the graduation rate information, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education also released dropout rate statistics for districts and schools. Statewide, the percentage of students who dropped out during the 2013-14 school year was 2%; the 4-year dropout rate was 5.6%. The difference between the annual dropout rate and the 4-year statistic is that the annual rate refers to the percentage of students in any grade that dropped out in a given school year. The 4-year dropout rate is the percentage of students from a given class, or who started 9th grade for the first time in given year, that eventually dropped out 4 years later. In this case, the 4-year dropout rate refers to students in the Class of 2014 who started 9th grade in 2010.

In 2013-14, the annual dropout rate for the Lynn Public School district was 4.3%, down from 4.8% the previous school year.

The 4-year dropout rate for the Class of 2014 was 11.9%, up 0.1% from 2013 but down 4.5% from 2010. 

The graduation rate for this class was 75.8%. The other students either remained in school for at least a fifth year (8.1%), were considered non-grad completers most likely due to not passing the MCAS exam (2.9%), or obtained a GED (1.4%).

Dropout rates did vary at the individual school level. 

Finally, a comparison of the ten Commissioner's Districts. 

All data taken from: www.doe.mass.edu

Lynn Graduation Rates 2014

On January 27th, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the 2014 graduation rates at the district level. In 2014, Lynn's four-year graduation rate was 75.8%, an increase of 0.1% from 2013.

At the subgroup level, Lynn reported a 70.6% graduation rate for males compared to 81% for female students. English Language Learner students had a 56.9% graduation rate and students with disabilities 52.5%

Overall, the statewide four-year graduation rate was 86.1%, up 1.1% from the previous year.

Graduation rates in Lynn did vary at the individual school level.

Graduation rates at Lynn Classical and Lynn Tech are down slightly from 2013 while Lynn English and Fecteau-Leary saw increases.

Below is a comparison of the graduation rates of the Commissioner's ten urban districts for 2014.

Of the urban districts, Worcester had the highest graduation rate in 2014 followed by Lynn. Lawrence, which is current under state receivership as a Level 5 district, saw a 5.6% increase in its graduation from 2013 to 2014.

All data taken from: www.doe.mass.edu

Friday, December 26, 2014

Lynn Public School District Demographics 2014-15

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recently published the 2014-15 demographic reports for public school districts in the state. Per the DESE data, there are 14,871 students enrolled in the Lynn Public School district (which does not include those enrolled in charter school) as of October 1, 2014. This is an increase of 493 from October 1, 2013. In terms of the race/ethnicity, the breakdown is as follows (the numbers in parentheses represent the percent change from school year 2013-14):

  • African American/Black: 10.7% (-0.3)
  • Asian: 9.2% (-0.6)
  • Hispanic/Latino: 56.4% (+1.9)
  • Native American: 0.3% (0)
  • White: 19.6% (-1.3)
  • Multi-Race, Non-Hispanic: 3.7% (0)

In terms of special populations, LPS is comprised of a significant number of students who speak English as a second language as well as low income students.

  • First Language not English: 54.1% (+0.1)
  • English Language Learner: 18.8% (+1)
  • Special Education: 15.4% (-0.4)

Additionally, the Lynn Public School district's student population is 53% male and 47% female.

Below is a breakdown of the special populations listed above by individual school. The plus or minus numbers in the 'Total Enrollment' column is the change from 2013-14.

FLnE = First Language not English
ELL = English Language Learner

Special Education
Total Enrollment
258 (+10)
291 (-11)
496 (+5)
595 (+1)
611 (+29)
511  (+53)
Early Childhood Ctr
286 (0)
 40 (-8)
526 (+19)
656 (+33)
454 (+15)
738 (+5)
292 (+26)
Lynn Woods
168 (-7)
Sewell Anderson
297 (+8)
298 (+3)
454 (+2)
403 (+11)
450 (+93)

1,197 (-23)
1,001 (+44)
647 (+1)

Lynn Classical
1,611 (+113)
Lynn English
1,616 (+5)
Lynn Tech
855 (+105)
119 (-38)

All Data Taken from: www.doe.mass.edu