This site aims to inform and mobilize Beverly parents to take an active role in all issues related to the funding and operation of the city's schools. It was launched in the spring of 2008, when the city saw its first-ever override attempt fail, followed by the closure of a nearly-new elementary school. Subsequent years have seen further cuts that have led to larger class sizes across the district. While the opening of an impressive new high school and plans to replace the city's aging middle school give us reason to be optimistic, the school community must be ever vigilant in demanding appropriate school funding by city and state governments, and better community communications from the district and School Committee.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Galinski Rebuts School Critics

As election season heats up, Assistant Superintendent Marie Galinski has fired back at Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility leaders Eliot Margolis and Gail Burke, who have both penned letters (here and here) critical of the school system to the editor of the Beverly Citizen. Margolis and Burke led the group that opposed to the 2008 school override, and both are candidates for office this fall.

Using some of the same fuzzy statistics that characterized their successful defeat of the override, and unsuccessful attempt to derail the high school project, Margolis and Burke used the recent MCAS scores to claim poor performance and overspending by the schools, and to call for a new superintendent to be brought in from outside the system.

Galinski, a possible candidate for the Superintendent position herself, writes in this week's Citizen explaining the MCAS scores:

Adequate yearly progress [AYP]” is an incredibly complicated process by which schools are judged and unless one understands how to look at the data, it is easy to make a snap judgment that schools are “deficient,” “mediocre,” or “on probation.

The fact is that there are there are 80 different criteria upon which schools are judged each year. If a school misses just one of those criteria, it is deemed not to have made AYP. Those criteria are not just academic, but also include the number of students tested, attendance and graduation rates for aggregate and subgroup populations. All students are held to the same standard, regardless of how academically challenged they are. AYP also measures different groups of students each year.

She also points to some of the positives shown my this year's MCAS scores:

  • Grades 4,5,6,7 and 8 exceed or equal the state performance for advanced and proficient students in English language arts.
  • Grades 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10 have increased their numbers of advanced and proficient students in mathematics this year.
  • Science results in grade 10 have increased by 7 percent for advanced and proficient students and exceed the state performance by 10 percent.
  • Our district maintains a rating of “high” for academic performance in English language arts (90-100 percent proficient) and “moderate” for academic performance in math (80-89 percent proficient).
  • Cohort analysis for students (classes of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) demonstrates significant growth in English language arts and mathematics.

Galinski then gets a bit personal with Burke, stating "I take issue with the statement of Burke, who has no children in the public schools nor has she visited any of our schools to comment on the use of data to review curriculum or make changes. She has no first hand knowledge to make this statement. Should she desire to gain more information, I would welcome her visit!"

Margolis is running for City Councilor at Large in a race that includes strong school supporters Pat Grimes and Mike Cahill. Grimes was the only Council member to publicly support the override in 2008 and Cahill, who is running for his first term on the Council, spoke out at several of the budget hearings that year in favor of the schools.

Burke, who as Galinski points out has no children in the school system, stood strongly against both the override and the high school project. She is challenging Karen Fogarty, who is running for her second term on the School Commitee from Ward 4.

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