In The People's Blog, Updates from Jo

Information alone is powerful

Earlier this week, I sent an email to constituents who had weighed in on K-12 education which contained links to guidance from DESE. I believe all constituents should have access to the information being sent to school officials (if you hadn’t seen it already).

Information is powerful after all. And I wanted my constituents to have the current guidance so that you could understand what your school superintendents and school committees were wrestling with.

I didn’t offer any editorial comment on this guidance which confused and/or upset a number of you. So in this post, I’m hoping to share a few more pointed thoughts and give you a sense of what I’m doing and hearing when it comes to education.

First, this is personal

Please know that I’m a mom of two public middle school students and the wife of a public school teacher. This issue is personal for me. What happens in our schools affects my entire family.

Here are a few things my team and I have done. It’s not an exhaustive list. Just meant to show you our values.

Everywhere I can, I’m pushing

Decisions around what happens in the fall with regard to education are very often not legislatively-based — meaning it won’t be up to me and my colleagues. But where I’ve had a role during this crisis or felt compelled to push the Administration in another direction, I haven’t missed a chance to act including a letter I sent moments ago to DESE Commissioner Jeff Riley regarding reopening concerns, MTA negotiations, and more.

On the MCAS

In the spring, I pushed for and voted for an MCAS suspension for 2020. I then fought hard alongside Sen. Jason Lewis to ensure those students who rely on the acceptance of portfolios in order to gain a diploma to have those waived as well. And we prevailed. But I didn’t stop there. I filed a bill to ban the MCAS and then addressed a smart concern regarding special education and rebuked The Boston Globe for a really misguided editorial.

On early childhood and K-12

In early May I criticized the Governor’s Reopening Advisory Board and asked to have a range of educators added.

Later in May I helped convene the region’s superintendents and then conveyed their acute concerns to Com. Riley, and also wrote about what must be done for early child care providers.

In June, I wrote to shine a spotlight on the inequitable digital divide harming many in our district.

More recently, I worked with our delegation to convey the demands of school committees, calling on the state to pay for all related COVID-19 costs.

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