Several educators, parents and advocates are supporting legislation that gives struggling schools the tools they need to improve student learning, including extended school days.
“I think the hours we have in Springfield right now from getting out at almost 2:30 in the afternoon. It’s at this point not as flexible as it should be,” said Maria Perez, a Springfield member of education group Stand for Children.
Since 2010, Massachusetts public school have been ranked on a five level scale, Level 1 being the highest performing schools and Level 5 the lowest performing schools. 13 Springfield and Holyoke schools have been identified as Level 4 schools since 2010.
When a school falls to Level 4 or 5, the state provides them with more control and resources to improve performance – such as the ability to fire, hire or give raises to teachers to work longer hours. But the legislation that provides those resources is set to expire this year.
“So I’m here advocating to make sure our Level 4 schools are going to be able to keep those turnaround tools and flexibilities that they currently have and that also they’re extended to Level 3 schools so that we don’t get to the point where they become Level 4 schools,” said Stand for Children’s Springfield organizer Luz Lopez.
One approach to this legislation gives school administrators the power to come up with school improvement plans. But teacher unions are supporting another version that requires administrators to collaborate with them.
“I really want to see teacher-led schools, educator-led schools, because I do believe that the teachers who are working with the students in the classroom have the expertise,” said Massachusetts Teachers Association President Paul Toner.
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