MIHOS: Weíve really cut all the support services for MCAS. I am against MCAS. It was a tool, itís now a weapon. We went from 1789 to 2003 in this Commonwealth with public education and it works. Weíve spent $9 billion dollars over the last few years on ed reform and what have we learned? When you fund these school systems properly they do well, when you donít they donít. Iím against MCAS.
MIHOS: Iím against merit pay, but what Iím for is Christyís proposition 1, get as much local aid back to those cities & towns, let them make the decision at the local level via their local school committee, as to how to run their schools, and not let some elites up on Beacon Hill in the department of education make the decision for the local cities & towns as to what they want taught in their schools and how they want it taught.
PATRICK: Iím in favor of the MCAS. The problem is that we take the MCAS and we slap it on top of school systems that are already under strain. We need to make the MCAS better; we need remedial programs; we need additional measures of how a student is developing academically so that we are educating the whole child. I think itís a mistake for us to think that all there is to education reform is one high-stakes test.
PATRICK: I agree with one of the Lt. Governorís ideas, about incentives to encourage teachers to come to underperforming schools. Thatís a great idea. I will also say that I support merit pay but I think thereís a right way & a wrong way to do it. I think we do differ on this. The right way to do it is in a way that encourages collaboration. So Iím looking at merit pay by team or by school. How do we lift the whole school, ought to be our approach.
ROSS: We have a generation now that might not even make it through high school. About a quarter of kids are dropping out, if you go to African American kids you get close to 50%, Latino kids weíre over 50%. The test is a big part of the problem. Obviously we need the funding for the schools. But the reality is that test is a key piece, itís connected with the timing of when the kids started dropping out and weíve got to pay attention.
ROSS: The best measure of how a school is going to do is how much money that community has and that tells us whatís really going on is there is an economic drain going on in our schools. No teacher can teach well in a school that has 35 kids or more. So what we need to do is put money back into our schools, we have a Constitutional commitment to education in this state and I think we actually need to follow our Constitution.
HEALEY: Itís not all about funding, itís about standards. Iím a strong supporter of the MCAS. Over the last 10 years weíve brought our schools from being below the national average to way above the national average in terms of the SAT scores We have over 90% of our kids who past that test every year and it tells our employers that they are qualified to do the jobs theyíre going to be asked to do. Standards are important.
HEALEY: I have two proposals around merit pay. Iíd like to test our kids in the beginning of the year and the end of the year to help identify who really are our best teachers and Iíd love to give them merit pay. The other thing Iíd like to do is give incentives of additional pay to our best teachers to go and teach in the schools where theyíre needed most, in our schools that have been identified as under-performing.
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