Entries from January 2010
On January 28th, the FY 2011 School Committee Budget was presented to the Bedford Finance Committee. This budget represents a reduction of $1,038,054 from the $32,781,189 budget that was presented on December 1st. This budget represents a variance of $ 354,780 from the Finance Committee Budget Guideline, To view this presentation, you can click here:
The next step in the FY2011 Budget approval process will be the Finance Committee’s Saturday morning session on February 6th. At that time the Finance Committee will conduct its final review and approval of town budgets for the Annual Town Meeting Warrant.
Tags: Budget Information · Community · Parent · Teaching and Learning
This was the sixth year that the Bedford Public Schools sponsored the summer institute. Tragedy and Hope: Exploring the Human Condition through Fiction, Poetry and Drama. Susan Rozen, Program Director for Reading, has worked with local universities to bring high quality professional development to our faculty. The summer 2009 offerings included a two day poetry institute. In her description of the outcomes from this institute, Dr. Rozen noted:
Patti’s Messinger’s British Literature class piloted a new unit on Modernism using poems by Wordsworth, Arnold, and Yeats describing past and present events that pointed, even 200 years ago, to crises of faith, politics, and the natural environment. To help students further grasp the parallels among these poems Patti used the techniques and materials from the two-day poetry workshop taught by Daniel Albright of Harvard University. Students engaged in an exercise in postmodern intertextuality by recording and illustrating key lines from each poem on four panels. Then, by mixing and matching the panels, they found some surprising parallels between the poems’ imagery and themes particularly in their prophecies of a darkly apocalyptic future . Patti also used a technique she learned for teaching “epic similes” from the second two-day workshop taught by a Boston University’s Classic Department professor, Stephen Esposito. Homer used similes to help others enter into the emotional world of his characters at critical moments of his story. For example, when a guest in Penelope’s home (her husband Odysseus in disguise) relates to Penelope one of his memories of entertaining Odysseus many years ago, she cries. The way Homer describes the scene takes us deep into her psyche and her emotional landscape. Having students draw a picture of this simile encourages them to use their artistic imaginations and helps them to understand how a great writer can convey an inner world of meaning and beauty. Patti’s students selected the simile from several in the book that they wanted to interpret through drawings.
Dr. Rozen’s efforts to bring rich, content based institutes to Bedford is appreciated by both faculty members and students. That blending of appropriate continuing education for our faculty with classroom implementation is one of the many factors that contributes to continuous growth at our high school.
Tags: Community · Teaching and Learning
Principal Ackerman is justifiably proud of the generosity of Lane students and parents. Mr. McGrath, a 5th grade teacher, organized a Concert for Haiti during the lunch periods yesterday. I was privileged to join the third grade lunch and very impressed by both the decorum of the audience and the talent of the performers. Mr. Maffa stood proudly on the sidelines as his musicians stepped forward to share their talents. In a recent blog posting, Mr. Ackerman notes:
An anonymous Lane School parent has matched the fundraising total from yesterday’s Concert for Haiti. To think that someone wrote a check for $1600 is incredible! This brings our total to $3264 which will go directly to Partners in Health.
Tags: Community · Parent · Teaching and Learning
A press release from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education captures the enthusiasm of state leaders as Massachusetts submits its application for the RTTT grant. In Bedford, we view this as an opportunity to shape the next era of school reform as we continue efforts to improve what we do and how we do it in our schools. Here’s a snippet of the memo sent to superintendents from Commissioner Chester:
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.
The Bedford School Committee and the Bedford Education Association helped to lead this charge with their early support for RTTT.
January 16th, 2010 · 2 Comments
Friday’s Professional Day activities included a riveting presentation by Michael Dorn, Executive Director for the Safe Haven International Organization. Using a compelling personal memoir as the vehicle for his message, Michael quickly commanded the attention of his audience sharing multiple examples to underscore his message that: “All children can learn more if they attend a safe, orderly school which provides a caring and supportive environment.”
Most of us were speechless as he ended with an emotional plea to educators that “you have the power to protect, shield and heal children.”
Topically, Michael’s presentation included the following:
- Correlation between safety and test scores
- Assessment based safety
- Access control
- Supervision of students
- What do your schools “say” about safety
- Bullying and the Incredible Power of Advocates for Children
Michael had the opportunity to tour both the high school and Lane School. In both instances, he gave Bedford high ratings in terms of what the buildings “say” about safety. For more information about Michael, you can visit his website.
This presentation was supported by a grant that Chief Hicks secured for teacher training.
Tags: Community · Parent · Teaching and Learning
Earlier this week, I presented the FY2011 Finance Committee Guideline Budget to the Bedford School Committee. Prior to the vacation break, the Finance Committee voted a budget guideline that allows the school budget to increase by $640,993 or 2.06% from FY2010 to FY2011. In terms of the school department budget, we now have a difference of $1,038,054 from the Maintenance of Services Budget we presented on December 1st to the budget that meets the Finance Committee guideline. In order to reach that target number, we continue to have significant reductions in both salary ($419,379) and non-salary ($618,676) accounts.
We will continue to work with the Fiscal Planning Committee and the Finance Committee on this budget proposal. The Bedford School Committee will vote a budget on January 26th. That budget will then be presented to the Finance Committee on January 28th.
In Bedford the preparation of a final budget is always a collaborative process between and among town officials. As we move into the final stages of this work, I am hopeful that we will be able to close some of the gap for FY2011.
To view the January 13th presentation, click here: http://www.bedford.k12.ma.us/info/pdfs/FY11BudgetPresentionRevisedReductions1-12-10.pdf
Tags: Budget Information · Community
I am pleased to report that the Bedford School Committee and the Bedford Education Association have joined me in signing the Race to the Top (RTTT) Memorandum of Understanding as part of the endorsement process for Massachusetts’ competitive application for $250 million in federal money earmarked for schools over the course of the next four years. In a recent editorial, Paul Reville (Secretary of Education) and Mitchell Chester (Commissioner of Education) said the following about this opportunity:
Make no mistake, we recognize that Race to the Top is not a panacea. It will not solve all of the state’s educational challenges and certainly not fill the funding gaps we face. But at a time of fiscal downturn, it will provide the state and districts with an important financial boost, and access to opportunities for additional philanthropic dollars and other federal grants, all of which will help us to chart a new and exciting pathway for innovation and reform.
Working in a district where the stakeholders are willing to be bold and forge new ground is significant as we shape the next chapter of school reform in our state. In Bedford, the sense of trust and mutual respect between and among the parties has enabled us to do this.
My hope is that the application from our state lands in the “approved” pile at the federal level.
Tags: Community · Parent · Teaching and Learning · Uncategorized
Today’s New York Times includes a story by Lane Wallace that is a must read for educators. Entitled “Multicultural Critical Theory At B School”, the article cites the work of David Garvin at Harvard as he examines the curriculum for business schools. As Garvin notes:
Learning how to think critically — how to imaginatively frame questions and consider multiple perspectives — has historically been associated with a liberal arts education, not a business school curriculum, so this change represents something of a tectonic shift for business school leaders. Mr. Martin even describes his goal as a kind of “liberal arts M.B.A.”
“The liberal arts desire,” he says, is to produce “holistic thinkers who think broadly and make these important moral decisions. I have the same goal.”
I found the article compelling and very reflective of Daniel Pink’s vision for the “the MFA as the new MBA.” It also supports my personal belief that we need to value a “liberal arts” or some might suggest “21 Century Skills” approach to designing curriculum in our K-12 schools.
A full text of the article can be found here:
Tags: Digital Learners · Parent · Teaching and Learning · Uncategorized
With the start of a new decade, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents continues its efforts to support school leaders as learners. As part of that effort, MASS has launched a new task force focused on 21st Century Skills. Task Force members are reading and debating the text 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times by Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel. I will keep you posted on our work as we develop a position paper to support the work of colleagues and inform the work of policy makers.
Some food for thought that comes from the early chapters of the book
“The illiterate of the 21st century are not those that cannot read or write, but those that cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Alvin Tofler
“How to personalize learning and how to differentiate instruction for diverse classrooms are two of the great challenges of the 21st century.”
Bloom’s Taxonomy in the 21st Century:
Remember; Understand; Apply, Analyze. Evaluate; then Create.
Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind , with its focus on creativity and the MFA as the new MBA, served as a great starting point for this task force. The work of Trilling and Fadel and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills will help us articulate how Pink’s vision can and should shape our schools.
Tags: Community · Digital Learners · Teaching and Learning