Friday, February 13, 2015

Cuomo eyes Massachusetts for school fixes

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 1:28 PM

Governor Andrew Cuomo has asked Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch to look at what Massachusetts is doing to improve that state's failing schools. 

Massachusetts passed a law in 2010 that gives state officials the ability to place chronically low-performing schools in a receivership. Supervision of several Massachusetts schools and one entire district has been handed over to outside entities.

Think of the University of Rochester’s plans for supervision of East High School.

There are more than 170 schools in New York that could be identified as chronically failing schools. About 90 of them are in the Big Five urban school districts, with many failing for about a decade.

According to an online article by Eric Randall of the New York State School Boards Association, the Massachusetts schools could be taken over by an individual, another school district, or a nonprofit. And the new “receiver” or superintendent would have the power to restructure the school and change labor agreements.

The NYSSBA says it supports some of the tools that the new receiver could use, such as eliminating provisions in labor agreements such as seniority clauses. But the association also advocates for giving school boards some of those same abilities.

There are mixed reports about whether the Massachusetts approach is working.

The Lawrence school district north of Boston, for example, is often described as a hybrid of the charter school and traditional public school models. And it’s shown some gains.

But on the whole, it may be too early to tell if receiverships will turn around chronically low-performing schools or just move responsibility from one entity to another.


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