|For Immediate Release|
|Friday, January 15, 2010|
|Contact:||Heidi Guarino 781-338-3106 or JC Considine 781-338-3112|
Two-thirds of State Public School Districts Sign on for "Race to the Top"
School committees, superintendents and unions all sign on to implement reforms
MALDEN - Two-thirds of the state's public school districts and charter schools have signed a pledge to support the state's pursuit of up to $250 million in Race to the Top funding, a new federal grant designed to transform public education nationwide.
In all, 256 school districts and charter schools have signed on, representing 86 percent of the state's low-income students and 72 percent of K-12 students statewide.
"This is a great day for Massachusetts to have the partnership of so many teachers, school committees and superintendents in our efforts to transform our public schools," said Governor Deval Patrick. "We still have much work to do to ensure that our education system serves all students and provides them with the support and guidance they need to become successful."
"Race to the Top" is a competitive $4.35 billion grant program launched by the Obama Administration to assist states in implementing aggressive education reform strategies to turn around low performing schools and support world-class teaching and learning. Approximately 40 states are expected to apply for the funding. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Massachusetts is eligible for approximately $250 million.
Large, small, urban, suburban and rural districts from across the Commonwealth signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs), signaling their commitment to implement the initiatives outlined in the grant. Of the 256 that signed on, 147 are traditional school districts, 58 are charter schools, 31 are regional school districts and 20 are vocational schools.
"Race to the Top represents a bold opportunity for Massachusetts to push new Education Reform," said Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "We are already seen as a national leader in education, but to remain on top, the state must take steps to develop our next generation of teachers and leaders, turn around our lowest performing schools, and close our achievement gaps. I applaud the dedication of superintendents, school committee members, and union representatives statewide who stepped forward and embraced our innovative and ambitious reform agenda."
"Massachusetts is a national leader on education reform and these efforts represent the state launching the next chapter of success for students," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "The local investment demonstrated in the signed agreements of so many districts and others is vital to our efforts to transform our public education system. Meaningful and lasting education reform can only be accomplished with the support of educators and municipal leaders as equal partners, that is what we have strived for in our Race to the Top work and that is what we are together accomplishing."
State education leaders have worked cooperatively with stakeholders from across Massachusetts for the past several months to build grassroots support for the initiative and develop the state's plan. Participants included the leadership of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, Massachusetts Association of School Committees, the Massachusetts Teachers Association the American Federation of Teachers, and the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association as well as educators, business leaders, parents and others.
To participate, districts were required to submit an MOU signed by the superintendent, school committee chair, and union leader. If the state is awarded the grant in April, participating districts will have 90 days to submit work plans detailing how they will use their funding to implement four required activities: (1) Improve teacher and principal effectiveness; (2) Ensure effective teachers and leaders in every classroom; (3) Turn around the lowest achieving schools (only for districts with Level 4 or 5 schools under the state's new accountability system); and (4) Use data to improve instruction. Participating districts may also choose to implement two additional activities: Roll out a statewide P-12 teaching and learning system and increase college and career readiness.
The state's Race to the Top application focuses on four key initiatives:
- Developing and retaining an effective, academically capable, diverse, and culturally competent educator workforce
- Providing curricular and instructional resources that support teacher effectiveness and success for all students
- Concentrating great instruction and supports for educators, students, and families in our lowest performing schools
- Increasing our focus on college and career readiness for all students
"The high number of school districts who signed the Race to the Top Memorandum of Understanding is great news for education reform in Massachusetts," said Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents "Teachers, superintendents and school committee leaders have demonstrated real leadership and a willingness to collaborate. A continuation of that spirit will provide meaningful long term benefits for our students."
"MTA and our members are ready to develop new and better strategies to help close the achievement gaps for our most needy children," said Anne Wass, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. "That we have done so well with so many of our students already puts us in an excellent position to tackle the most difficult of problems: the negative effects that poverty has on the ability of students to achieve at their fullest potential. Working together and given the tools and resources we need, we can find solutions."
Participating districts include Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Lawrence, Brockton, Salem, Pittsfield and Lowell. A complete list of participating districts is attached.
"I am confident that Massachusetts is among the best and most competitive Race to the Top applicants in the nation," said Boston Superintendent Carol Johnson. "In signing the Memorandum of Understanding, our school committee, teachers union, and district agree that Boston can utilize these unprecedented resources to accelerate our goal of creating a world class system of schools for the children of our city."
"The Pittsfield Public Schools are pleased to partner with the Massachusetts DESE in supporting the RTTT application," said Pittsfield Superintendent Howard Eberwein. "Grants provided through RTTT will help to move the Commonwealth forward, and maintain it as a leader among states in supporting student achievement."
In addition to the 256 that submitted the required signatures, an additional 61 districts submitted incomplete MOUs. These communities were unable to gain the support of the superintendent, school committee and union, but submitted their MOUs to put their interest on the record.
States that secure Race to the Top grants are expected to be designated as the preeminent states for future funding opportunities, including support through the reauthorization of the Elementary Education Act and from national foundations, such as the Gates Foundation, who have indicated that they will strongly consider investing in states that have won Race to the Top grants.
Race to the Top funding is meant to supplement, not supplant, other state and federal education funding. If Massachusetts is awarded funds, which could amount to $250 million, half of that amount the state receives would be passed on to participating districts using the Title I formula. The remaining 50 percent of funds may be used by the state, and some could go to districts in the form of competitive grants or funding for pilot initiatives.
CITIES AND TOWNS
REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS
Manchester Essex Regional
Ralph C Mahar
Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public (District)
Academy Of the Pacific Rim Charter Public (District)
Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter (District)
Atlantis Charter (District)
Barnstable Community Horace Mann Charter Public (District)
Barnstable Horace Mann Charter (District)
Benjamin Banneker Charter Public (District)
Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public (District)
Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public (District)
Boston Collegiate Charter (District)
Boston Day and Evening Academy Charter (District)
Boston Preparatory Charter Public (District)
Boston Renaissance Charter Public (District)
Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter (District)
Christa McAuliffe Regional Charter Public (District)
City On A Hill Charter Public (District)
Codman Academy Charter Public (District)
Community Charter School of Cambridge (District)
Community Day Charter Public (District)
Conservatory Lab Charter (District)
Dorchester Collegiate Academy Charter (District)
Edward Brooke Charter (District)
Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers: A Horace Mann Charter Public School
Excel Academy Charter (District)
Four Rivers Charter Public (District)
Foxborough Regional Charter (District)
Global Learning Charter Public (District)
Hampden Charter School of Science (District)
Hill View Montessori Charter Public (District)
Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public (District)
Holyoke Community Charter (District)
Innovation Academy Charter (District)
KIPP Academy Lynn Charter (District)
Lawrence Family Development Charter (District)
Lowell Community Charter Public (District)
Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter (District)
Marblehead Community Charter Public (District)
Martha's Vineyard Charter (District)
Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence (District)
MATCH Charter Public High (District)
Mystic Valley Charter School
Neighborhood House Charter (District)
New Leadership Charter (District)
North Central Charter Essential (District)
Phoenix Charter Academy (District)
Pioneer Charter School of Science (District)
Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter(District)
Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public (District)
Prospect Hill Academy Charter (District)
Rising Tide Charter Public (District)
River Valley Charter (District)
Roxbury Preparatory Charter (District)
Sabis International Charter (District)
Salem Academy Charter (District)
Seven Hills Charter Public (District)
Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter (District)
Smith Leadership Academy Charter Public (District)
South Shore Charter Public (District)
Sturgis Charter Public (District)
Assabet Valley Regional Vocational Technical
Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical
Bristol County Agricultural
Cape Cod Regional Vocational Technical
Essex Agricultural Technical
Franklin County Regional Vocational Technical
Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical
Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical
Nashoba Valley Regional Vocational Technical
Norfolk County Agricultural
North Shore Regional Vocational Technical
Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical
Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical
South Middlesex Regional Vocational Technical
South Shore Regional Vocational Technical
Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical
Southern Worcester County Regional Vocational Technical
Tri County Regional Vocational Technical
Upper Cape Cod Regional Vocational Technical
Whittier Regional Vocational Technical
DISTRICTS THAT SUBMITTED WITHOUT UNION SIGN-OFF
Bristol-Plymouth Regional Vocational Technical
Greater Fall River Regional Vocational Technical
Greater Lowell Regional Vocational Technical