Bay State Gov. Deval Patrick stopped by the South Shore Charter Public School on Friday (Dec. 18), where he held an on-location cabinet meeting and used the opportunity to talk up his education reform bill....
Norwell had an important visitor this past week.
Bay State Gov. Deval Patrick stopped by the South Shore Charter Public School on Friday (Dec. 18), where he held an on-location cabinet meeting and used the opportunity to talk up his education reform bill.
Patrick and his cabinet met with the students and staff at the charter school and talked with Pru Goodale, the school’s executive director, about the school’s initiatives to diversify education through various programs.
“The South Shore Charter School is helping students thrive and opening up worlds of opportunity for them,” Patrick said. “All children deserve the same chance at a world-class education and that’s what our reform package will give them.”
After his cabinet meeting, Patrick spoke with some local media, and in the discussion he highlighted the charter school’s project/workshop programs in which students engage in tasks such as running the school store, developing a redesign of Hingham harbor, performing in a bad and participating in fine arts.
Patrick said his education reform package is designed to improve public schools and close any achievement gaps among students through swift intervention at underperforming schools. This would come about, he said, through the promotion of innovation in school programming and by raising the number of charter schools in low performing districts.
Additionally, Patrick said the education reform bill he’s proposing would help the state qualify for federal grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“I’m here to talk about education reform and I want to take our work in the last decade and bring it to a higher level,” Patrick said.
Even though Patrick said Massachusetts has one of the best education systems in the country, the governor said he’s focused on attacking what he sees as a persistent achievement gap, one that ensnares “poor children, special needs students and students with English as a second language.”
“It’s an education problem, an economic challenge and a moral blemish that must be dealt with,” he said.
Patrick said his reform bill, if approved, would use the strategies employed by charter schools around the state to push district innovations.
Currently the bill is being looked at by legislators at the State House.
Addressing the governor and his cabinet, as well as a number of students and staff, Goodale hailed the accomplishments of the charter school in the last decade.
“We’re pushing innovation in the classroom and that’s where it is important to really be focusing our efforts,” she said. “As an educator, parent and a grandparent I’m concerned about education but I’m proud that we keep raising expectations.”
Goodale said the charter school would sign on to participate in “Race to the Top,” a competitive grant program to encourage and reward states that are implementing significant reforms in the four education areas described in the ARRA.
The reforms include enhancing standards and assessments, improving the collection and use of data, increasing teacher effectiveness and achieving equity in teacher distribution, and turning around struggling schools.
The U.S. Department of Education (Department) will make grant awards in two phases, with Phase 1 funding awarded in spring 2010 and Phase 2 funding awarded by Sept. 30, 2010.
After Patrick spoke, he took some time to talk to a few students including charter school juniors James Guerra, Victoria Nwafor and Stacey Tchouanguem.
“We wanted to give him a sense of what ‘Charter’ is,” Nwafor said.
Geurra said he described for the governor the opportunities the charter school has provided he and other students.
“It’s really changed us all,” he said. “Our work here has brought out the best in us.”
Nwafor, who is close to completing her second year at the school, said she’s happy to be in an education setting that feels like a big family.