In Holyoke, arts education takes front seat

Non-profit helps integrate creativity into the regular curriculum

SIX-YEAR-OLD JUAN patted an inflatable ball as he peered out of his blue-rimmed glasses. Which way to send the ball? What could he knock down? Juan was playing “human bowling” in Kat Lorenzi’s kindergarten class in Holyoke. The objective was to get the ball to bounce off a few of his classmates, and figure out

DeLeo ups T ante, pledges long-term fix

Speaker says the MBTA system is in crisis

SAYING THE MBTA is “in crisis,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said the House is willing to work with Gov. Charlie Baker on a short-term fix but remains focused on a long-term plan and the revenue to make it a reality. The Winthrop Democrat, who often sees eye to eye with Baker on financial issues, issued

Riley casts vision for education change

Says 'deeper learning,' new assessments should be part of next chapter

WHEN JEFF RILEY took the reins as state education commissioner early last year he suggested it was time to turn the page on 25 years of education reform efforts, pointing to stalled achievement scores, a stubbornly persistent achievement gap, and an unhealthy focus on testing. But exactly what he had in mind for the next

Keeping politics in check

Sportsmanship trumps partisanship at chess tourney

I’M AT CARRIE NATION, a prohibition-era themed Beacon Hill bar just down the street from the Massachusetts State House. On an island of tables floating between a legislative fundraiser in the front room and a bar full of power drinks after work, there are eight chess games underway. The room is noisy with friendly conversation

What’s in your electricity bill?

There’s a lot more than just the cost of power

It’s a simple question – what charges are contained in your electricity bill?  But the answer isn’t that simple. Indeed, there’s a lot more going on with your bill than you might think. In CommonWealth’s latest Reel Deal explainer video, we show how your electricity bill has become a major driver of state energy policy.

Boston taps high-stakes testing opponent

New superintendent opposes 10th grade MCAS graduation requirement

THE BOSTON SCHOOL COMMITTEE answered the question of who will lead the district by tapping former Minnesota education commissioner Brenda Cassellius to be the city’s next school superintendent. But the answer to that question has raised a new one about the commitment of the state’s largest district to one of the central pillars of the

Baker comes up with South Coast Rail financing

Completion date moved back a year to late 2023

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER followed through on a first-term campaign promise on Monday by dedicating more than $1 billion in state bond funds to the South Coast Rail project, which is now expected to be completed after his second term ends. The funding commitment followed three cost and schedule reviews of the commuter rail project and

A third way on the school funding/accountability debate

The answer isn’t more state rules but greater local oversight

BEACON HILL LEADERS are searching for ways to provide public schools with a significant infusion of new dollars. Taking a page from Massachusetts’s landmark 1993 Education Reform Act, some have proposed attaching higher levels of accountability to any new funding. Others are not so hot on this idea. After all, they reason, the state skirted

The healing power of art

Therapists who use creative outlets to help patients process trauma seek licensure

THE YOUNG GIRL had endured bullying and been called ugly. She was told she had a unibrow by one of her male classmates. At her therapist’s office, she was “withdrawn and disengaged.” She refused to finish a self-portrait she had started the previous week, instead picking up another piece of paper and painting two eyes

Local accountability in schools lacking, says report

Study urges stronger goal-setting by districts and schools

MASSACHUSETTS HAS BUILT its school reform effort on a combination of new state funding and accountability measures that track student and district achievement, but that has largely let local districts off the hook for setting ambitious goals of their own and holding themselves and schools responsible for meeting them. That’s the conclusion of a new

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