Commissioner's Weekly Update - March 14, 2014
Secretary Duncan's Visit to Massachusetts:
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Massachusetts on March 11-12. On Tuesday, the Secretary visited Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Boston for a tour and roundtable discussion with educators and members of the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities. On Wednesday, Commissioner Chester joined the Secretary during visits to Worcester Technical High School, Arthur Coolidge Middle School in Reading, and Match Charter Public High School in Boston. At Worcester Tech, Secretary Duncan toured the school and participated in a town hall on career and technical education with educators, community college officials, and business leaders. Secretary Malone joined the Worcester visit. In Reading, Secretary Duncan visited classrooms and took part in a roundtable discussion with educators and students on the implementation of new college- and career-ready standards. At Match, the Secretary participated in a discussion with educators and state and local leaders on the importance of high quality teacher preparation programs. To see Secretary Duncan's tweets about his visit to Massachusetts, go to https://twitter.com/arneduncan. To see photos of the visit, go to USED's flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/departmentofed/.
Board to Meet March 24-25:
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet on March 24-25 in Malden. At its March 24 special meeting, the Board will discuss the Mass. Business Alliance for Education's educational benchmarking study and policy report. Sir Michael Barber and his colleagues at Brightlines will discuss their analysis of the state's education system and how the Commonwealth can build on its strong foundation. At the March 25 regular meeting, the Board will hear updates on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), Level 5 schools, and the Fiscal Year 2015 budget. The Board will hear an overview of the state's new high school equivalency exam called HiSET. The Board will begin a discussion on policies relating to program approval and enrollment in vocational-technical high schools. The Board will discuss and vote on amendments to the charter school regulations; regulations on Commonwealth of Massachusetts virtual schools, a technical amendment to special education regulations, and a repeal of regulations on virtual innovation schools; and an amendment request from Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School.
New Federal E-Rate Rules – Public Comment:
The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) E-rate program provides schools with discounts on services for telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections. Last summer, the FCC proposed new rules designed to increase broadband capacity, promote cost-effective purchasing, and streamline the E-rate program. The FCC has now posted notice requesting feedback on the proposed changes, which are expected to go into effect in 2015. For more information, go to http://www.fcc.gov/document/focused-comment-sought-e-rate-modernization. Interested parties must submit comments to the FCC by April 7, 2014. The website provides instructions for filing on paper or electronically.
Civic Education – Student Survey:
In the coming weeks, the Department will contact high school student leaders to enlist their support in inviting high school students to participate in a brief online survey about their experiences with civic education. The survey builds on a discussion that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education had at its February 24, 2014 special meeting on the state of civic education across the state. We encourage district and school leaders to support student leaders in facilitating outreach about this important survey. To see a copy of the survey, go to http://www.doe.mass.edu/FamComm/Student/survey.pdf.
For Your Info:
- Increasing Community Preparedness: America's PrepareAthon!SM is a community-based campaign to increase emergency preparedness at the grassroots level in support of Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-8), National Preparedness. The first America's PrepareAthon! National Day of Action on April 30, 2014, will focus on preparing organizations and individuals for tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, and wild fires. The federal agencies supporting this effort will host two upcoming webinars on March 18 and March 20. If you have questions, please contact PrepareAthon@fema.dhs.gov.
- Healthy Start Awards: The Eos Foundation is now accepting applications to recognize outstanding efforts to feed breakfast in Massachusetts high-need schools. The Healthy Start award recognizes Massachusetts school-based leaders who contribute to the educational success of the whole child by addressing their nutritional needs. Applications are due by March 28, 2014. For more information, go to http://www.eosfoundation.org/MajorInitiatives/major_initiatives.htm.
- Licensure Renewal – Reminder: More than 12,750 educators have already renewed their licenses this year. As the June 17 deadline approaches, we encourage educators to renew early by using the Educator Licensing and Recruitment (ELAR) system at https://gateway.edu.state.ma.us/elar/common/EducatorWelcomePagePageControl.ser. Educators must sign in to ELAR and follow six easy steps. At the completion of the process, an educator's license is renewed instantly and an updated licensure status is generated via the educator's ELAR Profile. Online renewal is the fastest way to complete the process. Educators may also submit completed applications, which are located online at http://www.doe.mass.edu/recert/application.pdf, to the Licensure Office for processing. The Department will continue to hold Computer Lab sessions to assist educators throughout the renewal process. Upcoming sessions will occur on March 18 and 31, and April 23 and 25. To register for a Computer Lab session, go to http://www.doe.mass.edu/conference/?ConferenceID=1792. Educators needing assistance in accessing their ELAR account may contact James Wilkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-338-6614.
- In the News: Recent stories of interest on school reform efforts across the Commonwealth include a WBUR – Morning Edition segment on the Lawrence Public Schools, a New England Cable News – Making the Grade story on the PARCC field test, a Worcester News Tonight segment on Secretary Duncan's visit to Worcester Technical High School, a WBUR – Radio Boston segment called "Debating Common Core," and a Boston Globe column on longer school days by columnist Scot Lehigh.
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