Monday, October 30, 2017

2017 Lynn Municipal Election Rundown

2017 Municipal Debates

2017 Q&As

Councilor At-Large
School Committee

Councilor At-Large
School Committee

To confirm your specific polling location, see

Don't forget to vote on Tuesday, November 7th!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Lynn Councilor At-Large 2017 Q & A: Brian LaPierre

Brian LaPierre currently serves on the Lynn City Council and is running for re-election in this year's municipal race. LaPierre is among the eight candidates running for the four councilor at-large seats. 

One of the major issues in the forefront during this year's election is the city budget with many often calling for "an increased commercial base." What specific steps do you think Lynn should take in order to attract new business? Do you believe that TIFs (tax increment financing) make strategic as well as financial sense in this regard?

I want to lead the charge in bringing new development, both residential and commercial to Lynn and that is why I am advocating for Amazon to locate their headquarters here in Lynn. We need to develop Lynn’s waterfront and have taken the necessary steps through rezoning and ridding the powerlines for a vision that includes retail, market rate housing, restaurants and a publicly accessed boardwalk along the Lynnway. On TIFs, sometimes they are necessary and sometimes they are not. I have only voted on one so far in my two years on the council and that was for Beacon Chevrolet site that will yield a new infusion of over $50 million dollars in revenue over the next 30 years. The prior council had to do a TIF with Market Basket or they simply would not have located in Lynn, in exchange, we got 86% of the local workforce to be from Lynn. I will pledge to use TIF powers strategically and on a need by need case in the future, realizing that the major priority right now is to grow our commercial and residential tax bases respectively through innovative jobs, hi-tech smart growth and in demand manufacturing high wage jobs.

Another pertinent topic is the increase in violent crime this year. In what concrete ways do you think this could  be addressed?

We need to go back to basics on crime and public safety as a whole and work to support our uniformed police, fire and EMT’s. We need to be the eyes and ears of our neighborhoods again. We have to work in conjunction with our local law enforcement to rid our neighborhoods of drug houses, prostitution, blighted, unkempt, homes and the like. We should be obtaining grants and making use of both public and private funds to equip the Downtown and major intersections with cameras and surveillance. We also need to enact the app called Nextdoor so that neighbors can anonymously report crimes as they happen to local police to investigate. They can also report violation to the local parking, DPW and inspectional services departments for concerns around, noise, loud music, trash, illegal dumping, speed, drug trafficking, prostitution, and other home violations.

What do you believe is the main issue that, if addressed, would have the most positive effect on the city of Lynn?

It’s about job creation and attracting small to medium size businesses to Lynn. We have the talented workforce of over 90,000 smart capable and willing residents ready to work and make a good living for families to work, play, and go to school here. We need to advance our citizenry by creating the skillful jobs that are both high wage and high skilled. We need to continue to foster a training curriculum that is cutting edge in our schools so that Lynners have the skills they need to compete in this fast changing, global economy. Lynn is up to the task and is labor ready. We must do better and ask ourselves on Amazon for example, why not us? That will be a regional game changer for the entire Northshore and beyond, providing upward to 50,000 at very high and competitive salaries for our residents and others across this region.

Obviously, the city is made up of people from a variety of ethnic/racial backgrounds, socioeconomic classes and of all ages. Do you think the city's governing bodies are currently overall being responsive to the needs of its diverse constituency? 

I recognize that there is much more to be done in this area. I am proud to have supported many board appointments of people of color with very diverse backgrounds that want to serve our city in many capacities. I am also very proud to have advocated for the hiring of a bilingual employee for the council office last year. We need to do more to attract candidates of different cultural backgrounds to our teaching, policing, firefighting and city hall professions. I am a firm believer of equality, celebrating a diverse workforce and responding the same way to constituent issues and concerns, regardless of race, religion, orientation etc. I will continue to promote those values not at city hall but in our community at large.

Why should Lynn residents consider re-electing you to the City Council?

Well, I respectfully ask for one of your four votes for Councilor at Large because although we have done a lot in two years, we still have more work to do. I am proud that I have responded to over 1,000 constituent requests during my first term in office, I am proud of the work I have done in our community around making streets cleaner and our neighborhoods safer. We have seen over 30 new businesses open in the past 2 years, including the new Market Basket, which employs over 400 employees (86% are Lynn residents). We have a strong, collaborative, hard-working, city council that works well together. I want to continue to be a part of Lynn’s renaissance in the areas of arts and culture, business development, attractive places to live, work and raise a family. Please consider me for one of your four votes on Tuesday November 7th

Thank you. Brian LaPierre, Lynn City Council

For more information

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

State Releases MCAS 2.0 Results

In the Spring 2017, Massachusetts rolled out what is calling the "Next Generation" MCAS exam which was taken by students in grades 3 through 8 (students in grade 10, on the other hand, took the previously designed exam). The Next-Generation MCAS includes aspects of the previous exam as well as items developed by PARCC and items created to assess the state's learning standards. According to the state, the Next-Generation exam was formulated as a method to better assess career/college readiness. Specifically, this was in light of data which indicated that more than a third of the state's public school graduates attending Massachusetts public colleges or universities were placed in remedial courses and that these remedial students often do not graduate on time or at all.

MCAS 2.0 is not without its opponents, however. Monty Neill of the The National Center for Fair and Open Testing notes the new exam is not necessarily an improvement as it blends the previous iteration of the MCAS with the PARCC which is not more predictive of college success. The Pioneer Institute in particular found the writing prompts on the PARCC exam did not elicit the kind of writing expected in college or work environments. Further there is ample research that suggests that standardized test scores are more associated with the test taker's socioeconomic status than aptitude (here here here here here). Moreover, this article points out that for teachers and administrators:
"the data that we collect from MCAS do not generally provide us with new insights about students strengths or weaknesses and it arrives...after we have completed the school year and have new students in front of us."
It goes on to assert that standardized tests are not the best or only way to assess learning using New Hampshire, which has instituted a system in which students are assess through projects and portfolios of content knowledge and skills (Performance Assessment of Competency Education).

On Wednesday, October 18th, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the 2017 MCAS results for both the Next-Generation exam as well as the 10th grade 'legacy' exam. The Massachusetts Association of School Committees notes that the new exam is more difficult and that the results will be reflective of this change. The state's education secretary, Jonathan Peyser, said that given that the Next-Generation MCAS is in its first year, the data should be treated differently from how previous results have been treated and that making comparisons would be akin to comparing "apples and oranges." Test results on the new exam range from 440 to 560 and will fall into four levels:
  • Not Meeting Expectations
  • Partially Meeting Expectations
  • Meeting Expectations
  • Exceeding Expectations
For more information from the DESE on the exam, see here.


Below are the results for the Lynn Public School District. The percentages represent the proportion of students 'Meeting Expectations' or 'Exceeding Expectations' on the exam.

On the English Language Arts (ELA) exam, 32% of students in grades 3 through 8 either met or exceeded expectations. At the state level, 49% of students in these grades met or exceeded expectations.

There were some differences at the subgroup level with 46% of white students meeting or exceeding expectations compared to 28% of Hispanic students, 27% of Black/African American students, and 39% of Asian students. The results for male and female students were 27% and 39%, respectively. Students with disabilities and English Language Learner students met or exceeded expectations at much lower rates (5% and 6% respectively); this is compared to 13% for both of these subgroups at the state level.

On the math exam, 33% of students in grades 3 through 8 either met or exceeded expectations. At the state level, 48% of students in these grades met or exceeded expectations.

Again, there were racial differences with 48% of white students meeting or exceeding expectations compared to 28% of Hispanic students, 26% of Black/African American students, and 45% of Asian students. The results for male and female students were 31% and 34%, respectively. 

On the 5th grade science exam, which was not a Next-Generation version of the exam, 42% of students were Proficient or Advanced compared to 46% statewide. On the 8th grade exam, 28% were Proficient or Advanced compared to 40% at the state level.

As previously mentioned, 10th grade students took the previous version of the MCAS exam in 2017.

Given the implementation of the new Next-Generation exam and the state's new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, 2017 is considered a reset year on accountability levels with schools not being assigned a level unless the a school has less than a 90% participation rate on the exam (by grade or subgroup) or schools with both grades 3 through 8 and 9 through 12 may be assigned Level 3 for persistently low graduation rates. Lynn this year does not have an accountability level assigned for 2017.

Finally, demographics should be kept in mind when reviewing the data. During the 2016-17 academic year, the Lynn Public School District enrolled 15,299 students in grades Pre-K through 12. Over half of those students (60.3%) were categorized as Hispanic, 19.9% as English Language Learners and 15.5% as students with disabilities. Additionally, half of LPS students were deemed economically disadvantaged by the state. The average number of absences last year was 10.5. 

All data taken from: