CommonWealth Beacon explores the dynamics of the state’s K-12 and higher education systems, from their foundational pillars to current debates over how to ensure quality educational opportunity for all.

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Mass. parents split on post-high school plans

Poll finds gap in expectations based on race, income

When parents of grade-school children consider what those children will want to do after high school, a new poll finds the strongest indicator is the parents’ own resume and bank account. 

SJC justices raise concerns about Tufts tenure tinkering

‘Sounds like tenure’s not such a great deal,’ says one judge

The Supreme Judicial Court hears arguments about a change to the tenure guidelines at Tufts School of Medicine that cuts salaries of those who fail to raise enough money to support their labs. Several justices seemed wary of the changes.

After SCOTUS setback, a new tack for student debt cancellation

Advocates highlight program available to public sector workers

THE US SUPREME COURT dealt advocates of canceling student debt a blow when the justices knocked down President Biden’s program as unconstitutional last June. Local advocates have reworked their focus. Gov. Maura Healey this fall offered loan forgiveness opportunities for health care professionals working for the state Department of Mental Health or nurses affiliated with…

What MCAS can, and can’t, tell us about student achievement

UMass professor says reliance on high-stakes testing misses the mark

THE VALUE OF using MCAS scores to determine graduation readiness and school oversight status is getting several enthusiastic tire-kicks. The state’s largest teachers union is charging away at a ballot measure that would remove the graduation requirement component of the 10th grade MCAS, and similar legislation known as the Thrive Act is being considered on…

Civics education gets boost from veto override

Lawmakers restore $1 million cut by Healey

MATT WILSON calls it an example of “civics in action.”  After Gov. Maura Healey vetoed $1 million from the budget appropriation for a fund dedicated to expanding civics education in the state, a coalition of nonprofits, educators, and other groups focused on civics education sprang into action, meeting with legislative leaders and urging lawmakers to…

Court says social worker, school district not liable in student suicide 

Despite heightened attention to mental health, public institutions may be immune from suit

IF SOMETHING IS going wrong in a child’s life – slipping grades, anxiety, depression, injury, or worse – their school community can see warning signs that may not always show up at home. But if a public school employee is made aware of the possibility – or even likelihood – of a student hurting themself,…

Campus food pantry a response to grim reality

New Roxbury Community College outlet addresses food insecurity among students 

A SINGLE MOTHER to a six-year old girl with special needs, Kiara Rosario came close to dropping out of Roxbury Community College when she couldn’t feed herself or her little girl. Rosario, who is pursuing a social science degree and wants to work with young people in juvenile detention centers, became food insecure when she…

State wants updated MCAS to consider student ‘experiences’

Bid documents describe retooled science, civics, and reading sections

ITS FUTURE as a graduation requirement may be the subject of much back and forth, but the MCAS test is still in line for a refresh. Amid critiques that the standardized assessment can tend to further marginalize some students, the Healey administration seems to want to emphasize cultural sensitivity in designing the new test. A…

Mayors renew call for vocational school admission changes

They say ‘half-measures’ by state have failed to end ‘pervasive discrimination’

MORE THAN THREE YEARS after calling on the state to revamp what they said were unfair and discriminatory admission practices at regional vocational schools, a group of Massachusetts mayors says little has changed – and they are calling on the new Healey administration to take decisive action on the issue.  Admission policies at the schools…

MCAS debate lands at state ed board meeting 

Board member defends graduation requirement as imperfect, but vital

WHEN IT COMES to debate over the state’s MCAS high school graduation requirement, Tuesday’s monthly meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education may have been a preview of coming arguments. During public comment testimony, leaders of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers union, trumpeted the campaign they have begun to put…

Board approves first updated sex ed standards in decades

State education panel gives thumbs up to changes, emphasizing inclusivity and comprehensiveness

IT IS, LITERALLY, not your father’s — or mother’s — sex ed standards. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously on Tuesday to update the curriculum framework for health and physical education, the first time the state’s sexual health standards have been updated in almost 25 years.  Under the new guidelines, students should…


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