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A: It’s a hot-button issue. I’m always
interested in finding a new pay
system that is different from steps and
lanes. I’m thinking about a way that
essentially there would still be some
step-and-lane piece. But I’m looking
at something where folks who want to
lead a small learning community go
into a different scale so there are more
coaching and leadership opportunities.
But that’s not pay based on a test score.
The one people talk about is that we pay
people for AP scores. That seems to be
successful in some places. But if we’re
going to pay folks for getting higher
scores on a test, I’d rather see that as
a building initiative. If we’re working
as a team, then let the building get the
dollars. Then they can pay for additional
training or buy additional equipment.
Q: What are your views on Common
Core, the national curriculum
standards being incorporated into the
state’s curriculum frameworks?
A: I love the Common Core. I’ll tell
you why. It’s focused on nonfiction.
It’s focused on interdisciplinary
connections. It’s focused on deeper
levels of understanding. I am a big
believer in the idea: “Let’s measure
ourselves truly against the rest of
the country.” I’ve never been one of
those elitists who say our curriculum
is better than everyone else’s so just
leave us alone because everyone else is
dumb compared to us. That’s not true.
We’ve had a very strong curriculum.
But this Common Core is equally
strong. Massachusetts is the tip of
the spear in terms of achievement on
certain assessments. But we still have
too many kids who aren’t doing well.
Sixty-six percent of our students are
Proficient or above in reading and
math in the third grade, but that holds
true for only 37 percent of African-American kids and 36 percent of
Latino kids. I think the Common Core
is going to allow us to get more of
those kids into Proficient.
Q: What about PARCC? Do schools
have reliable enough Internet access
and enough computers to implement
A: This is a huge issue. Brockton
High School has 4,200 kids, so if you
had to assess 1,100 kids at once, we
don’t have 1,100 units. I don’t have an
answer yet. I know smart people are
working on this right now. But you’re
absolutely right that most places are
struggling with how we’re going to do
this. I do like the fact that it’s going to
be electronic, so I’m hoping the results
come back in time for teachers to
actually use the data.
Q: The governor has proposed raising
substantial new revenue and investing
$900 million in education. Why do you
think those investments are needed?
A: I’ve been traveling the state
talking about the governor’s proposal.
We haven’t had a major investment
in public education since 1993, 20
years ago. We’ve underfunded early
childhood and higher ed. Chapter 70
investments have always been high, but
we’ve also had eight consecutive years
of cuts. So this will allow some systems
to build back what’s been cut. Now is
the time to invest in public education.
There are five pieces in the governor’s
proposal. It’s about universal access to
early-childhood seats — about 35,000
kids. It’s about growing programs —
what we call K-1 — in regular systems
so we can put 4-year-olds in full-day
kindergarten. It’s about extending
the learning time in our middle
schools, particularly in our Gateway
Cities. It’s about making connections
between community colleges and high
schools and our vocational schools
with industry-based manufacturing
and health care jobs. And it’s about
college affordability so our high school
graduates can go on to higher ed and
graduate school without too much debt.
Some people are saying, “Well, I don’t
want to pay for it.” My response is that
you and I were able to benefit from the
schools and systems and roads that our
grandparents built for us. It’s now our
opportunity to do the same for the next
generation. I think that this investment
will allow us to continue to grow, to
continue to close achievement gaps
and continue to create opportunities for
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