Trump urged to overturn ban on federal collection of student data

PostsecData Collaborative Shares Data Policy Recommendations with Trump Administration

This week, the Postsecondary Data Collaborative (PostsecData) submitted a letter to President-elect Donald J. Trump's transition team, offering an agenda to guide the incoming administration's efforts to support student success through improved postsecondary data. PostsecData, a coalition of thirty-six organizations led by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, is committed to the use of high-quality postsecondary data to improve student outcomes, particularly for low-income students and students of color.

In this letter, the signers offer a series of administrative actions for President-elect Trump's first 100 days in office, as well as strategies for the longer term. These recommendations focus on improving data quality, consistency, stewardship, and use, while leveraging existing data systems and ultimately reducing burden on institutions.

This letter's signatories, listed below, appreciate the opportunity to work with the incoming Trump administration to pursue data-driven policies that will help inform decision-making, institutional practice, and ultimately, student success.

To learn more about the Postsecondary Data Collaborative, please visit or sign up for the weekly PostsecData newsletter.

Signatories to Postsecondary Data Collaborative letter to President-elect Trump's transition team:

Advance CTE

Achieving the Dream

Association for Career and Technical Education

Center for Law and Social Policy

The Education Trust

George Washington Institute of Public Policy

Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Institute for Higher Education Policy

New America

The Institute for College Access & Success


Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Young Invincibles

Has Trump Outsourced the Department of Education to Jeb Bush?

The U.S. Department of Education, in the Trump regime, is starting to look like a Jeb Bush sweep.

Betsy DeVos was on the board of Jeb’s Foundation for Education Excellence, which is noted for its advocacy for vouchers, charter schools, digital learning, and high-stakes testing.

Hanna Skandera, State Superintendent in New Mexico, worked for Jeb Bush, was a member and chair of Jeb’s Chiefs for Change, and is a supporter of Common Core (and president of the PARCC consortium).

Now Politico reports that Paul Pastorek of Louisiana, also a member of Jeb’s Chiefs for Change, is under consideration for the ED Department’s general counsel. Pastorek was a leader and cheerleader for the complete privatization of the public schools in New Orleans.

As superintendent [of Louisiana] from 2007 to 2011, he helped oversee the rebuilding of New Orleans schools after Hurricane Katrina. He has held a number of education reform leadership positions, serving as co-executive director of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, for example. Pastorek helped found the PARCC consortium and he’s chairman of PARCC Inc.’s board of directors.

In other words, Trump has forgotten that he promised to eliminate Common Core (which he can’t do unless the states want to do it.) He said repeatedly that Common Core is a “disaster.” But all of his likely top appointments are Common Core advocates, like Jeb Bush.

The High School Of The Future — Right Here In Boston

(City Year/flickr)

Many education leaders lament the current state of American high schools and say we need to redesign them to do better at teaching creativity, design thinking, forming and defending ideas, collaboration and effective communication, and STEM skills. But there’s a school in Boston that’s already doing all that right now: Boston Arts Academy.

In fact, as delegations of U.S. educators travel to Scandinavian countries to study their education systems, a team from the Netherlands is coming to BAA this winter to learn best practices for organizing a school around creativity and innovation.

Tucked behind Fenway Park, BAA was founded in 1998 as the city’s first public performing and visual arts high school. Its 457 students specialize in either dance, music, theater or visual arts.

The school is routinely recognized for its excellence in arts education, with awards in the last few years from the Grammy Foundation, the Arts Schools Network, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and more. Notable alumni include dancer/choreographer Kirven Douthit-Boyd, actress Diane Guerrero and singer Brittany Butler, who’s competed on “The Voice.”

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Supporting Brookline Paraprofessionals

 Dec 15, 2016
 We are writing in support of Brookline classroom paraprofessionals, who are still working without a fair contract. At our release day on Nov. 2, kindergarten teachers were asked to make a list of all of the critical things that classroom paraprofessionals do in our classrooms, and why their role is so vital to our teaching. The list was incredibly long - after five minutes of brainstorming, we filled boards with over 250 post-it notes - including everything from being a second adult in the room, to comforting a crying child, to providing one-on-one support to children with special needs. In our discussions, what was said over and over again by kindergarten teachers across the district is that we absolutely could not do our jobs without the support, professionalism, expertise and commitment of paras. They enrich and support our curriculum, they provide invaluable behavioral support, they ensure the safety of all of our students and they are some of the hardest working educators in our district. And yet, their pay reflects a school district that does not acknowledge or respect their value and professionalism, and the critical role that they play in educating our students.

Just to give a couple of examples, one of our paras is a certified teacher with her master's degree. This is her fourth year in Brookline, and she currently takes home $412 each week. Another one of our paras has worked at Pierce for 15 years and maxed out her salary on the highest step, seven years ago. After contributing to her increasing retirement fund and paying for her family's health insurance, her take home pay is BARELY over $300 per week. This, after 15 years of dedicated service to our district.

The School Committee's latest proposal seeks to create two different classes of paraprofessionals - paying those that work with children in special programs more than the majority of paras who support teachers in classrooms throughout the district. While we can understand why this might seem like a good idea to those who have never spent significant time in our schools, as kindergarten teachers we can tell you firsthand that every one of our classroom paraprofessionals is not just a classroom support - they are special educators and professionals doing deeply important work for our students and the district. Most IEP's in our classrooms have "support from classroom para" written in, and our paras are consistently collecting data, differentiating instruction, providing one-on-one support and modifying activities to ensure that every child has access to our curriculum and can be successful. Without paraprofessionals, the district would not be able to meet the levels of support mandated for these students. Furthermore, in Kindergarten, every year our classrooms have students with undiagnosed disabilities. This means that our paras are actually supporting even more students with special needs than the district documents. In fact, we are consistently reminded that Special Ed pays half of our paras' small salaries.

The high turnover of paraprofessionals is a significant hardship for us as teachers, and for our students. At that release day meeting we also talked about the difference between having a paraprofessional work with us over several years versus having to train a new person every school year (or more often). Our ability to teach more deeply, more effectively, and to develop more thoughtful curriculum is directly affected by the amount of time we have worked together as a team. Our paraprofessionals work SO HARD, and our schools would not function without them.

Having consistent, well-trained paraprofessionals that are paid a living wage should be a priority for our district. Their value to our classrooms and students cannot be overemphasized, and we will continue to stand with our colleagues until they are given the fair contract that they deserve.


Amie Buchman (Pierce K)

Eowyn Daly-Griffin (Pierce K/1)

Ashley Haese (Runkle K)

Kristen Haynes (Runkle K)

Colleen Muldoon (Pierce K)

Tanya Paris (Runkle K)

Lauren Kelly Talanian (Pierce K)

Andrew Winston (Pierce K)

Trump & Common Core

Hanna Skandera, Undersecretary of Education??

Mercedes Schneider, December 15, 2016

According to the December 15, 2016, Politico Pro, controversial New Mexico Commissioner of Education Hanna Skandera “is under close consideration for education deputy secretary or undersecretary in the Trump administration.”

hanna-skandera  Hanna Skandera

The New Mexico Senate took four years to confirm Skandera, and it was a close vote: 22-19. Skandera has never taught, an issue that arguably violates the New Mexico constitution, which requires the state’s ed secretary to be a “qualified, experienced educator.”

However, in the world of ed reform, it’s who you know, and if you can get your non-teaching foot in the door and hold it there as ed sec “designee” for years, then it is indeed possible to be tagged as an “educator” by a state senate majority.

But let’s turn our attention to Common Core.

If Trump is supposedly against Common Core, one wonders why he would choose a woman who is currently the chair for one of the two federal-fund-established Common Core testing consortia, PARCC.

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It Turns Out Spending More Probably Does Improve Education

by Kevin Carey & Elizabeth A. Harris,

Educators, politicians and unions have battled in court over that crucial question for decades, most recently in a sweeping decision this fall in Connecticut, where a judge ordered the state to revamp nearly every facet of its education policies, from graduation requirements to special education, along with its school funding.

For many years, research on the relationship between spending and student learning has been surprisingly inconclusive. Many other factors, including student poverty, parental education and the way schools are organized, contribute to educational results.

Teasing out the specific effect of money spent is methodologically difficult. Opponents of increased school funding have seized on that ambiguity to argue that, for schools, money doesn’t matter — and, therefore, more money isn’t needed.

But new, first-of-its-kind research suggests that conclusion is mistaken. Money really does matter in education, which could provide fresh momentum for more lawsuits and judgments like the Connecticut decision.

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Want to Apply for the Vacancy on the School Committee?



The Brookline School Committee is seeking applicants to temporarily fill the seat on the School Committee vacated by the resignation of Rebecca Stone. The interim appointment will begin in January, 2017 and will continue until the May, 2017 Town Election. Candidates must be registered Brookline voters.

Interested candidates are asked to submit a letter of interest and resume by 12:00 PM on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 to:
Robin Coyne, Executive Assistant
School Committee Office
Town Hall, 5th Floor
333 Washington Street
Brookline, MA 02445

Candidates will be interviewed by joint session of the School Committee and Board of Selectmen shortly thereafter.

The Town of Brookline does not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission to, access to, or operation of its programs, services, or activities. Individuals, whom are in need of auxiliary aids for effective communication in Town programs and services, may make their needs known to Lloyd Gellineau, at (617) 730-2326. Those who need effective communication services should dial 711 and ask the operator to dial the relevant Town Department.

This service is part of the BrookONline initiative. Sign-up for more automated email or SMS/text notifications or modify your notification settings by clicking here.
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December 20th DESE Meeting: time, place, agenda

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Board Documents - December 2016

Regular Meeting

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
DESE, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA
Tuesday, December 20, 2016, 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Comments from the Chair
Comments from the Commissioner
Comments from the Secretary
Statements from the Public*

Routine Business:

Approval of the Minutes of the November 15, 2016 Retreat and November 29, 2016 Regular Meeting - Vote

Items for Discussion and Action:

  1. Progress Report on Holyoke Public Schools: Stephen Zrike, Receiver - Discussion
  2. PISA Results for Massachusetts - Discussion
  3. Every Student Succeeds Act: Stakeholder Outreach, New Federal Regulations, and Next Steps - Discussion
  4. Educator Licensure: Overview of Policy Issues and Potential Regulatory Changes - Initial Discussion
  5. Next-Generation MCAS: Plans for High School Assessments - Discussion
  6. Report to the Legislature on Calculation of Low-Income Students - Discussion
  7. Report on Probation: Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School of Excellence - Discussion
  8. Boston's Decision on Level 4 School (Mattahunt) - Continuing Discussion

Other Items for Information:

  1. State Education Budget Transmittal Letter from Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
  2. Report on Grants and Charter School Matters Approved by the Commissioner

Betsy DeVos and God’s Plan for Schools

BOSTON — At the rightmost edge of the Christian conservative movement, there are those who dream of turning the United States into a Christian republic subject to “biblical laws.” In the unlikely figure of Donald J. Trump, they hope to have found their greatest champion yet. He wasn’t “our preferred candidate,” the Christian nationalist David Barton said in June, but he could be “God’s candidate.”

Consider the president-elect’s first move on public education. Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the nation, says that he was Mr. Trump’s first pick for secretary of education. Liberty University teaches creationism alongside evolution.

When Mr. Falwell declined, President-elect Trump offered the cabinet position to Betsy DeVos. In most news coverage, Ms. DeVos is depicted as a member of the Republican donor class and a leading advocate of school vouchers programs.

That is true enough, but it doesn’t begin to describe the broader conservative agenda she’s been associated with.

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Boston Globe op-ed by Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment

This letter seems very sensible!

WE APPLAUD the effort, led by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, to look beyond test scores when measuring school performance (“More criteria sought to judge schools,”Metro, Dec. 6). As James Vaznis notes in his article, indicators such as “school climate” tell us a great deal about the education students are receiving. Yet for the past two decades, such measures have been overlooked in favor of what Vaznis terms “a laser-like focus on standardized test scores.” In addition to fostering a narrow view of quality, this approach has promoted negative views of diverse schools, because of the strong link between test scores and variables such as family income.

Given the state’s track record on this matter, we hope that the public does not merely allow the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to prescribe new school quality measures. Our group, the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment, is engaged in similar work. Unlike the state, however, we are not afraid of “radical changes to the accountability system.” Nor are we committed to the act of ranking schools. We have lived under the testing regime for nearly a quarter century.

Now it’s time to learn from our mistakes, reorienting data systems to provide fair and comprehensive information that engages communities, empowers educators, and supports students.

Jack Schneider, director of research

Salah Khelfaoui, cochair

Erik Fearing, cochair

Massachusetts Consortium

for Innovative Education Assessment


Schneider is an assistant professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross, Khelfaoui is the Lowell superintendent of schools, and Fearing is president of the Revere Teachers Association.