Join us for CPS’s Annual Meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 7pm, by Zoom

Save the evening of Tuesday, December 13, to help us honor and celebrate three historic education justice victories by these groups: Massachusetts Advocates for Children, Raise Up Massachusetts, and Our City, Our Schools. CPS members and non-members are welcome! Register here.

  • Massachusetts Advocates for Children broke down barriers and created new opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities, autism, and other developmental disabilities by helping to pass a law, the first of its kind in the nation, improving access to post-secondary education for these students.
  • Raise Up Massachusetts built a powerful statewide coalition to win the Fair Share Amendment, a constitutional amendment which will raise an estimated $2 billion a year for public education and transportation.
  • And the Our City, Our Schools coalition made a strong stand for democratic, local control of public schools by pushing back and stopping a proposed state takeover of Boston Public Schools.
  • In addition to honoring these public education campaigns, we will present the Education Justice Lifetime Achievement Award to CPS Board Member Jean McGuire.
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Learn Why to Vote Yes on 1 & How You Can Help

The Fair Share Amendment is Question 1 on the November ballot. It will allow Massachusetts to improve our transportation and public education systems by making the very rich pay their fair share.

Question 1 would create a 4% tax on the portion of a person’s annual income above $1 million and require – in the state constitution – that the funds be spent only on transportation and public education. Only people who earn more than $1 million annually will pay more; 99% of us won’t pay a penny more. And we’ll all benefit from better schools, colleges, roads, bridges, and public transportation.

That’s why Citizens for Public Schools and so many people across Massachusetts are coming together to vote YES on 1: because with Question 1, we all win.

Click here to learn more about why we need to pass Question 1. Click here to find out how you can help.   → Read More

Raising the MCAS Graduation Requirements Risks Widening Graduation Gaps

Massachusetts’ on-time high school graduation rate has been above the national average for at least three decades, due in part to being among the states with the highest parental education and income levels. However, Massachusetts’ overall graduation rate masks the state’s failure to significantly close the persistent graduation gaps for many historically underserved students. Furthermore, the proposal to raise MCAS graduation requirements may serve to further widen the graduation gaps for two particularly vulnerable overlapping groups, Latinx students and English learners.

In 2018-19, Massachusetts had the 5th largest graduation gap (18 percentage points) in the US between Latinx and White students, and the 6th largest graduation gap (26 points) between English learners (ELs) and non-ELLs. In addition, Massachusetts’ graduation gap between African-American and White students (13 points) was larger than the national average gap (10 points) for these groups. Similarly, Massachusetts’ graduation gap between economically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students (10 points) was larger than the national average gap for these students (6 points).    → Read More

Does Study Support Commissioner Riley’s Proposal to Raise MCAS Passing Scores? Not So Much

Here is CPS’s analysis of a 2020 report by Papay et al., which is being used by Commissioner Riley and DESE to bolster a proposal to raise the scores students must get on the MCAS to get a high school diploma. We sent it to Sec. Peyser, Commissioner Riley and the members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education yesterday. (We also sent it to all of the legislators who signed a letter to the BESE opposing the proposal and to the members of the legislature’s Joint Education Committee.) 

July 13, 2022

Dear Commissioner Riley, Secretary Peyser, and members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education,

In anticipation of your discussion and vote on the proposal to raise the MCAS competency determination standard, we at Citizens for Public Schools offer this analysis of the cautions in the 2020 John Papay et al. Lifting All Boats? Report, included in this message and attached as a PDF document.    → Read More

Dual Language Instruction and the Fight for Equity and Social Justice

Register today for the third in CPS’s series on Race & Education: Latinx Students, Tuesday, June 7 at 7pm by Zoom

Join us June 7 at 7pm by Zoom for Dual Language Instruction and the Fight for Equity and Social Justice. You will hear from an exciting panel of speakers – experts, students and a parent – about the importance of dual language instruction and the 2017 LOOK Act for multilingual learners in the Latinx community.

The panel presentation on the LOOK Act and Dual Language Education (DLE) completes the three-part series on Public Education and Race: Latinx Students. The Language Opportunity for Our Kids Act (2017) known as the LOOK Act endorses research-based programming to meet the educational needs and demographic characteristics of English Learners (ELs) in school districts in the Commonwealth. Compelling presentations will be given by the panelists who are students, a parent, teachers, and experts in the field of dual language education from the Multistate Association for Bilingual Education, Northeast (MABE) and the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy.   → Read More

More than 100 Professors & Researchers Say No to State Takeover of BPS

More than 100 academics have signed on to a letter to Commissioner Jeffrey Riley and members of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education opposing “any proposal that would put Boston Public Schools into state receivership or under state control.”

The letter says “We base this opposition on the long record of failure and damage to local educational communities resulting from state takeovers. The record of receivership in cities around the U.S., and in Massachusetts, clearly argues against this action.” Read the full letter and see the signers here. (To add your name, email Lisa Guisbond here.)   → Read More

Interrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Register today for the next in CPS’s series on Race & Education: Latinx Students, Thursday, May 12 at 7pm by Zoom

Join us for the second of our three-part series on Public Education and Race: Latinx Students. You’ll hear from Claudia Rinaldi, Ph.D., and Katherine Tarpley, Esq., two Latinx speakers who have devoted their lives and careers to supporting and advocating for students, including Latinx students, before they become ensnared in the school-to-prison pipeline. Two students from La Colaborativa will also share their experiences and perspectives. Register today here.

If you missed the first in the series, Receivership: Latinx Schools in the Crosshairs, with Dr. Domingo Morel, you can view the video recording here.    → Read More

Receivership: Latinx Schools in the Crosshairs

Save April 27, 7 to 8:30pm for a CPS event with Dr. Domingo Morel, by Zoom.

Join us to hear Domingo Morel, Ph.D., describe the ways state policies such as receivership help expand or diminish political inequality among historically marginalized populations.

Dr. Domingo Morel is the author of Takeover: Race, Education, and American Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2018), which won the W.E.B. Du Bois Distinguished Book Award. He is also co-editor, with Marion Orr, of Latino Mayors: Power and Political Change in the Postindustrial City (Temple University Press, 2018).   → Read More

MCAS graduation test puts immigrant high school students at risk

The decision by state education officials to reinstate the MCAS graduation test in the midst of the pandemic may have jeopardized the futures of thousands of Massachusetts immigrant students, according to an analysis by a retired Northeastern University professor and Citizens for Public Schools board member.

Professor Emeritus Louis Kruger, working with data from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, found that only about one quarter of English learners in 10th grade passed both the English and math MCAS tests last spring. 

In Massachusetts, students must pass both tests to get their diplomas. State officials canceled the requirement for the classes of 2021 and 2022 because of the pandemic, but reinstated it for students in the class of 2023, who were scheduled to take the graduation tests as sophomores in the spring of 2021.

“In this stressful and educationally compromised environment, it is unconscionable for state officials to cling to the MCAS graduation requirement,” said Kruger.   → Read More

What’s New in Bad Ideas from MA DESE? 

With confidence in standardized tests at a low ebb, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) proposes paying kids to care about MCAS. On Friday, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) will consider a Student Achievement Award Program, including a $25 gift certificate for high MCAS scores. This proposal has us in the field shaking our collective heads, wondering what incentive might encourage those who dreamed this up to consider the perspective of actual high-needs students. A $26 gift certificate, perhaps? 

Of the many obstacles to academic success faced by students with disabilities, English Learners, Black and Latinx students, and economically disadvantaged students, the lack of a $25 gift certificate is not on the list. In the context of the unprecedented trauma and dislocation many students have experienced and continue to experience during the pandemic, this proposal is tone deaf.

Tim Wise, a writer and parent of three Cambridge Public School graduates, asks how class dynamics will be affected when one high-scoring kid doesn’t get the recognition and cash while her classmate does because they are a SWD, economically disadvantaged, or an English learner.   → Read More

Register now for CPS’s Annual Meeting, Thursday, November 18, 7pm, by Zoom

Save the evening of Thursday, November 18, to help us honor three dynamic 2021 campaigns for education justice: the Vocational Education Justice Coalition, the Boston Teachers Union Ethnic Studies Now! organizing committee; and MCAS conscientious objectors (educators).

CPS members and non-members are welcome!

Register and learn more here.    → Read More

What’s your MCAS story?

When students, educators & parents share their MCAS stories, it shows they’re not alone and empowers everyone. We will post stories on our blog, Life under MCAS, and on Twitter & Facebook. Please email us your story at lisa@citizensforpublicschools.org.   → Read More