Massachusetts Parents United has been offered the opportunity to contribute questions to the Board of Education to be used during the interview hearing for the next Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. After engaging parents, education leaders and communities allies across the Commonwealth, MPU has submitted the following questions:
Although Massachusetts is home to the top public education system in America, we are also home to one of the largest achievement gaps in the country — a gap that not only persists, but continues to widen. There are some schools that have been highly successful in addressing achievement gaps but we have been unable bring these innovative approaches to districts in desperate need because of complicated political situations. (Eight out of ten schools in Boston who have virtually eliminated the gap are public charter schools.) How would you address this situation and work to encourage collaboration so that all children, regardless of school, have access to the high quality education they deserve?
How can we ensure that all children have access to high level vocational and technical education across the state — including in our urban school districts? How can we do a better job of making these seats available for kids of color and children with disabilities?
113 districts in Massachusetts are currently out of compliance when it comes to providing adequate access to our education system for parents seeking to communicate with local school districts because of language barriers — with a lawsuits having already been filed in Holyoke and intervention by the US Department of Justice in several districts, including Lawrence, Chelsea, Braintree, Somerville and Worcester. Instead of waiting for judicial mandate, what changes would you make to work with districts so that more parents will be able to fully participate and engage with their child’s teacher, administration and special education departments?
What is your overall philosophy regarding providing parents and families high quality options within the public education system? Do you favor increasing their access to options toward the development of a universal enrollment system?
How do you measure success and educational progress within an education system or school? Do you support the testing and accountability measures that have been key to the evolution of the Massachusetts system following Education Reform in 1993? What would you change?