Sunday, October 24, 2010

Teacher Test

“Teacher evaluation in this country is fundamentally broken,” says Arne Duncan, President Barack Obama’s education secretary, in an interview in Boston. “We don’t live in Lake Wobegon [where everyone is “above average”], but we have a system that pretends that we do. It hurts adults and it hurts children. It means, by definition, that the great teachers don’t get recognized and don’t get rewarded, and we don’t learn from them. The teachers in the middle don’t get the support they need to improve, and the teachers at the bottom — who, frankly, need to find another profession — don’t get moved out. For us to continue to do what we’re doing, or to just tinker around the edges, is crazy.”

In Commonwealthmagazine,


Must SEE: Waiting for Superman

This is an amazing movie. It should be required viewing for all BPS parents, the school board, the mayor, the city council. The union should be dissolved, they are destroying public education.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Testimony at Boston City Council

Read the Boston Globe covers the testimony here >>>>>>>>

Read the Boston Phoenix Editorial

Reinventing Boston's schools

Excerpt from my testimony, submitted in writing to "The Record"


Why does the city/union run the schools based on some early 20th century factory system model? The union rules only make sense if you are working on an assembly line with widgets.

You can't just stick a teacher in front of any class because they have been "in the system" a certain number of years. You can't switch teachers around into different subjects just to fill spaces during budget cuts. The concept that all teachers are interchangeable based on number of years worked and can teach any group of students might work on an assembly line. It fails miserably in a school.

The early 20th century factory model of education in the Boston Public Schools must be stopped immediately and if the union can't understand this then it must be dissolved.

This is a recession and there are a lot of good teachers out there looking for work.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Goodbye, stimulus. Hello, state budget cuts

"School districts, meanwhile, are also feeling the pain. Some 275,000 education jobs could be eliminated in the coming school year due to budget cuts, according to a new survey by the American Association of School Administrators. This would nearly wipe out the estimated 300,000 jobs saved by stimulus funds."

From, "Goodbye, stimulus. Hello, state budget cuts" By Tami Luhby, senior writerMay 9, 2010: 8:10 AM ET, CNN.COM

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Letter to the School Committee and Superintendent

March 21, 2010, emailed, read out loud in public testimony, March 24, 2010 at the BPS public comments portion of the School Committee meeting

Dear Superintendent Johnson and the Boston School Committee,

I am writing to express my concern about the impact of budget cuts, specifically on high schools. A quote in the Boston Globe about the BPS budget cuts, March 11th 2010, states:

“McDonough said his staff tried hard to avoid cuts that would directly affect students in the classroom … "

Are you aware of the impact the cuts have already had on students in the classroom?

  • Students witnessed some of their most energetic and committed teachers lose their jobs.
  • Every day, students encounter stressed out staff who don't have the support to handle the thousands of kids in their buildings and mustnavigate unsafe staffing levels.
  • Students watched their most inspiring programs eliminated or reduced (ie. Connections at BLS – should be a model for the system - one of the best middle school curriculums I've seen - should be expanded system-wide rather than slashed….)
  • They go to restrooms that lack soap and toilet paper.
  • Students no longer get the writing practice necessary for AP and college preparation – the teachers (at BLS) can't grade 155 papers each and resort to multiple choice tests and vocabulary drills.
  • At my son's school, BLS, students still have to answer to a media & city (& a school official who will remain unnamed in this letter) that doesn't acknowledge the economic diversity of the students and relies on outdated, inaccurate stereotypes, ignoring the 700+ Title I eligible students in the school. They rationalize diverting these students' funds to other schools. These students need books and other support that Title I could provide.
  • Students see a system that values seniority over quality.While they are expected to adhere to high standards, the BPS doesn't expect the same of all their teachers.

Imagine if the BPS awarded grades based on age and birth date – all the January students got higher grades no matter how poorly they did – that is the current state of affairs with how the BPS is hiring/firing teachers in a state of budgetary crisis.

Have you discussed these ideas for improving the system?

  • Revise the union contract and build teacher accountability into it to speed up the hiring/firing process so principals can control the quality of teaching.
  • Eliminate the money you spend on busing private school students and put that funding back into the classrooms.
  • Set a teacher/student ratio limit. 155 students:1 teacher is a joke – only students who can afford private tutoring or have parents who are educators get any attention.
  • Set class size limits comparable to the large suburban schools – 25 rather than 33 for a science class with a lab so that the classes are SAFE and students can learn.
  • Build on (rather than de-fund) your successes – look at the programs (ie. Music at Boston Latin School) that work. Don't follow the Massachusetts trend of wasting money on every education consultant that walks in with "The Answer" and de-fund successful programs. You have plenty of professional teachers in your system who already have great solutions – give them a chance (and get the bad teachers out of the system quickly).

Sincerely yours,

Lisa Link,

parent of a 9th grade boy at Boston Latin School

Pictures Below from the teacher's union organized rally at the Boston Public School Committee Budget hearing. I am upset that they are refusing to negotiate and allowing their younger teachers to be laid off.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Teacher comment on

I saw this comment on, the writer says they are a teacher and even if it's completely made up, a lot of it reflects what I've heard; the negative impact of overcrowded classrooms on student learning. The school committee doesn't seem to acknowledge the damage that they have already done. Had to turn it into a poster, if you click it, you see a larger view. Thanks for feedback - this is a sketch of an idea.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More Budget Cuts to Schools

Schools chief warns of closings

Boston Globe article by James Vaznis

Boston Globe article by Joan Vennochi
"In a recent interview in the New York Times, Ravitch said she now believes that math and reading testing required under No Child Left Behind pushes history and art out of classrooms. She argues that accountability, as written into federal law, doesn’t raise standards; it dumbs down schools."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Boston Gets "F" in Teacher Appraisals (Globe)

A new state law that bolsters a superintendent’s ability to fire teachers at underperforming schools could be undermined in Boston because administrators routinely neglect a basic task: evaluating teachers.

About half the city’s approximately 5,000 teachers have not received an evaluation in the past two years, and a quarter of the city’s 135 schools have not conducted evaluations during that period, according to a report commissioned by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education that was provided to the Globe yesterday.