And I ask them . . .
How many cities do you know of that set a full day aside to celebrate Hats Off to Education day, involving over 100 venues located throughout the city? How many cities have recently hosted Gov. Patrick in visits to the Carlton School Innovation Program, the Early Childhood Center, the celebration of bullying prevention with students at our middle school or participated in a high school “town meeting”? How many school systems have had the new Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matt Malone visit the Bowditch and Bentley schools during his first several months on the job, or high schools play host to State Treasurer Steven Grossman in awarding one of only 11 statewide Financial Literacy Grants to Salem High School’s staff and students?
I ask them how many school systems offer school choice among their elementary and middle schools? How many have comprehensive high schools engaged in expanding their vocational programs to include “green” facilities management, medical assistant and early childhood training — all planned to complement their existing automotive and culinary arts programs?
I ask them how many School Committees partner with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in committing to participate in an accelerated improvement process to improve their schools and successfully obtain $1.5 million dollars in three-year school redesign grants? How many school systems support an independent Horace Mann Charter School, the successful Bridge Program or Salem Prep alternative high school for nontraditional (and successful) learners?
And I tell them about our future . . .
I tell them about our application to the National Center for Time on Learning for a grant to tackle the challenges of increased learning time. I tell them about the implementation of a grade 2-8 system of regular assessments designed to improve instruction, with plans to extend it to grades 9-12 during the upcoming school year. I tell them about the efforts underway to pilot a summer program designed to address students’ summer learning loss, and about our plans to assess the grade configuration of our schools as a means of making the best use of available tax dollars and program consistency.
I tell them about the work still to be done in raising the academic bar, in helping all of our students to experience success, and I tell them about the commitment that we all share in helping them to get there.
I tell them the Salem story.
Stephen Russell is superintendent of the Salem Public Schools.