education reform


       Gov. Charlie Baker is urging the voice of the business community in Massachusetts to be heard in the current debate over school finance reform. 

Cathy N. Davidson is a lifelong educational innovator - and instigator. After twenty-five years as a professor and an administrator leading innovation at Duke University, Davidson moved to CUNY in August 2014 to direct the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center. Appointed by President Obama to the National Council on the Humanities (2011-2017), she also sits on the Board of Directors of Mozilla. 

In her new book, The New Education, Davidson argues that the current approach to education is wholly unsuited to the era of the gig economy. Our system of higher education dates to the period from 1865 to 1925, when the nation's new universities created grades and departments, majors and minors, in an attempt to prepare young people for a world transformed by the telegraph and the Model T. From the Ivy League to community colleges, she introduces us to innovators who are remaking college for our own time by emphasizing student-centered learning that values creativity in the face of change above all. 

      Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, during his State of the Commonwealth Address a week ago, touted a new education model called “school empowerment zones.” 

         The only one of its kind is in Springfield where the city’s nine middle schools operate in an Empowerment Zone Partnership. 

        WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Chris Gabrieli, who chairs the independent board that oversees the schools.

Massachusetts education officials today released the annual accountability designations for the state’s public schools.

About a third of the state’s public schools met goals this year for academic achievement and closing gaps in school performance between whites and minority students. Only two percent of the schools are considered “underperforming,” which puts them at risk for a state takeover unless there are improvements in a few years.


The public schools in Holyoke, Massachusetts opened this morning to begin the first full academic year under state receivership.  While a district turnaround plan is not yet finished, there have already been some changes.

On the first day of school, Stephen Zrike, the person appointed to reform the long-troubled Holyoke schools, joined Principal Barry Bascom to greet students at the front door of Dean Vocational Technical High School.  Later, Zrike observed classrooms at the K-8th grade McMahon school.

Picture of a Vermont School Bus
Jared C. Benedict/Wikimedia Commons

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin says a new state education law will ensure a quality education for the state's students while "bending the curve" on education spending.


A veteran educator with a track record of turning around struggling urban schools will be put in charge of a troubled western Massachusetts school system. The state’s education commissioner has appointed the current superintendent of schools in Wakefield as receiver for the Holyoke public schools.

Stephen Zrike, who was a principal at three Boston schools and led a network of elementary schools in Chicago, will now be in charge of the effort to improve student achievement at one of the worst school districts in the state.

MaryEllen Elia
Karen DeWitt

Newly appointed State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia says her first order of business is to listen to parents, teachers and administrators around New York.


With state receivership for the public schools in Holyoke, Massachusetts appearing increasingly likely, the city’s Superintendent of Schools is hoping for more time for an accelerated improvement plan to show results.

Holyoke school superintendent Sergio Paez said the recommendation by the state’s education commissioner that the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education schedule a vote on receivership was “difficult to accept.”

" I think the commissioner is doing his job to do what he thinks is best, however I don't agree with that recommendation," he said.

Hundreds of public school students and parents have rallied at the New York state Capitol to urge lawmakers to boost school funding and reject Gov. Andrew Cuomo's education reforms.

Cuomo has suggested $1.1 billion in additional education spending — but only if lawmakers agree to implement tougher tenure rules, teacher evaluations more reliant on student test performance and the authorization of more charter schools.

wikipedia commons

Massachusetts education officials have dropped a proposal to include classroom performance evaluations as a criteria for renewing the licenses for teachers, administrators and other educators. The move came just days after newly released data gave most educators in the state high marks.

President Barack Obama, a frequent visitor to New York State in recent weeks, was in Massachusetts late Wednesday. He spoke at a high school commencement in Worcester and at a political fundraiser in suburban Boston. 

President Obama held up Worcester Technical High School as a national model for preparing American students to compete in the global economy.

" I want the nation to learn from Worcester Tech."

The president spoke to an audience of 5,000 people at the graduation exercises held in the DCU Center in downtown Worcester.

For the first time under a 2010 education reform law in Massachusetts the state is taking over four struggling schools.  The state will place into receivership two schools in Boston, one in New Bedford and the Morgan Community School—a K through 8th grade school—in Holyoke.   WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with the Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester about the action.


The newest charter school has opened its doors in Springfield, Massachusetts. Interest in establishing new charter schools in Springfield has grown since a cap was lifted three years ago.


National Education  Association President Dennis Van Roekel was on a back-to-school tour last week.  The head of the 3 million member teachers union visited schools in several cities across the country.  During a swing through Massachusetts that included a visit to a school in the Boston area, Van Roekel spoke with WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill


20,000 students head back to class Monday in Springfield Massachusetts. The state’s second largest public school system has received almost $14 million in federal funds to put programs in place to close academic achievement gaps.   Daniel Warwick is beginning his second year as Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools.  WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with him about his plans to address the system’s chronic problems.

Official White House Photo / Pete Souza

President Barack Obama delivered the first State of the Union address of his second term last night, outlining bold initiatives on reforming the nation’s high schools, immigration policy, economic development, and gun control.

Today we want to hear what you thought of the president’s remarks, and joining us with his reaction to the speech is WAMC’s own political observer, Dr. Alan Chartock. WAMC's Ray Graf hosts.

Jared Benedict

The Vermont School Boards, and the Vermont Superintendents, Associations have released a five point agenda that they say will create a world-class education system in the state.

The agenda for a World Class Education system includes universal access to pre-K education, creation of Innovation Zones, personal learning plans, revision of the collective bargaining system and greater family involvement in education.  Vermont Superintendents Association Executive Director Jeff Francis says the state has a good public education system, but in a global economy it must be better.  Francis explains that the associations began crafting the five-point plan last fall.

Tim Kremer, executive director of New York State School Boards Association

After accepting the recommendations of a panel appointed to study how public schools in New York can be improved, Governor Andrew Cuomo made it clear that not all schools are created equal, and they cannot be treated as such. The governor says schools in the poor, high-needs areas of New York must also provide student support in social services. Tim Kremer, the executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, agrees with the governor but has concerns about where the money will come from. He spoke today with WAMC’s Brian Shields.

Teachers have a new resource to help them in the classroom. It’s called share my lesson, a new online resource bank, where teachers can collaborate and share teaching resources. Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, announced the new program today in Rockland County.

With the school year starting for students across New York State in the coming weeks, there are several new programs being implemented. WAMC's Brian Shields spoke with Tim Kremer of the New York State School Boards Association about the new policies, including teacher evaluations and anti-bullying programs.