Franklin (MA) School Committee Blog

The pieces below represent the views of the individual authors, not the committee as a whole.

Texas textbook changes no threat to Franklin

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on March 24, 2010

I received an e-mail earlier in the week concerning efforts to revise textbooks in Texas and the alleged whitewashing of history by the Texas Board of Education (click here for details on what is happening there). One writer described the Texas efforts as follows: “As the state goes through the once-in-a-decade process of rewriting the standards for its textbooks, [an activist bloc] is using its clout to infuse them with ultraconservative ideals. Among other things, they aim to rehabilitate Joseph McCarthy, bring global-warming denial into science class, and downplay the contributions of the civil rights movement.” Given the level of interest in the topic, I thought it would share my response:

That link was certainly interesting reading,  but I truly do not see those issues arising here in Franklin.  The Massachusetts curriculum frameworks are some of the toughest and most respected in the country, and I do not see them moving in the direction of Texas in our lifetimes.  In fact, even the recent efforts to develop national curriculum standards have not been well received by our state board of education (I understand that Texas did not participate).  In fact, this was in a Globe article from last week:  “The Patrick administration will not adopt national academic standards if they are lower than those established in Massachusetts, long championed as having among the most rigorous expectations, according to the state’s education secretary.” (Click here for the full article).

Also, readers should take comfort in the fact that the Franklin School Committee has a policy to deal with complaints about instructional materials in our schools.  You can find a copy of the policy by clicking here.  As stated in the policy, ” books and other reading matter will be chosen for value of interest and enlightenment of all students in the community. A book will not be excluded because of the race, gender orientation, nationality, political, or religious values of the writer or of its style and language. Every effort will be made to provide materials that present all points of view concerning the international, national, and local problems and issues of our times.  Books and other reading matter of sound factual authority will not be prescribed or removed from library shelves or classrooms because of partisan doctrinal approval or disapproval.”

Finally, a few years ago I wrote a blog piece about similar efforts in Pennsylvania (the details from the blog with links to the case materials and documentary can be viewed by clicking here). The tussle over these emotional issues resulted in a very interesting trial in federal court in Pennsylvania.    In the case decision, the judge ruled that introducing intelligent design was unconstitutional, and I believe that some of the Texas changes would fall into a similar category. PBS’s NOVA produced a two hour special on the case – entitled Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial — which aired for the first time on November 13, 2007. You can view the show online by clicking here. PBS has a website devoted to the topic which can be viewed by clicking here

Posted in Policy | Leave a Comment »

Massachusetts 4th and 8th graders rank first in reading on 2009 NAEP exam

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on March 24, 2010

Massachusetts 4th graders ranked first and 8th graders tied for first on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading exam in 2009, marking the third time in a row that the state’s students outscored their peers nationwide. According to results of the 2009 NAEP exam, the state’s 4th graders scored an average of 234 on the reading assessment, well above the national average of 220 and first in the nation. At grade 8, Massachusetts students achieved the highest average of 274, which exceeded the national average of 262 and tied for first with five other high performing states: New Jersey (273); Connecticut and Vermont (272); and New Hampshire and Pennsylvania (271).

“Education is our calling card around the world,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “I couldn’t be more proud of our students, teachers, and school administrators whose dedication and hard work made this remarkable achievement possible.”

NAEP, also known as “The Nation’s Report Card,” is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in core subjects. NAEP assesses a representative sample of students in all 50 states and reports state-level results at grades 4 and 8. In Massachusetts, 3,900 students at grade 4 and 3,600 students at grade 8 were randomly selected to participate in the NAEP reading assessment. The NAEP reading scale ranges from 0 to 500.

“These remarkable results are further proof that engaged students and talented teachers can produce and sustain high levels of achievement,” said Education Secretary Paul Reville. “Now, we must accelerate our efforts to help every student reach proficiency and higher.”

Other results for Massachusetts students included:

Grade 4 Reading:

•    47 percent of all Massachusetts students scored Proficient or above, significantly more than the national average of 32 percent.

•    The performance of the state’s four largest racial/ethnic groups remained the same in 2009. White students scored on average 241, compared to 216 for African American students, 211 for Hispanic students, and 241 for Asian students.

•    56 percent of white students scored Proficient or higher, as did 23 percent of African American students, 20 percent of Hispanic students, and 56 percent of Asian students.

•    Female students (average scaled score of 236) continue to outperform male students (231) in reading. Fifty percent of female students and 45 percent of male students scored Proficient or above.

•    In 2009, the performance of students with disabilities (average scaled score of 211), English language learners (198), and students eligible for free or reduced price lunch (215) was flat since the last administration in 2007.


Grade 8 Reading:

•    43 percent of all Massachusetts students scored Proficient or above, significantly more than the national average of 30 percent.

•    The performance of the state’s four largest racial/ethnic groups remained the same in 2009. White students scored on average 279, compared to 251 for African American students, 250 for Hispanic students, and 281 for Asian students.

•    49 percent of white students scored Proficient or higher, as did 17 percent of African American students, 17 percent of Hispanic students, and 50 percent of Asian students.

•    Female students at grade 8 outperformed male students both in terms of average scaled scores (279 to 269) and the percent scoring Proficient or above (49 percent to 37 percent).

•    The performance of students with disabilities (average scaled score of 251), English language learners (217), and students eligible for free or reduced price lunch (254) did not change significantly between 2007 and 2009.

Additional information on NAEP is available on the Nation’s Report Card which can be viewed by clicking here.

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Springfield School Committee retreat OK under law, but questionable

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on March 22, 2010

The Springfield School Committee’s recent retreat at a Berkshire resort has raised some eyebrows. But the gathering at Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club in Lenox, is not in violation of the state Open Meeting Law, according to Hampden District Attorney William M. Bennett.

Over the weekend, the Springfield School Committee went to the resort for training to be guided by the Texas-based Center for Reform of School Systems. According to an article in the Springfield Republican, Donald R. McAdams, who is president, chairman and founder of the Center for Reform of School Systems, was scheduled to lead the weekend training. The stated mission of the center, which is located in Houston, “is to teach school board members and superintendents how to transform their districts to deliver high student achievement.”

“The purpose of the training is to strengthen the effectiveness of the superintendent-school committee governance team…. no official business or deliberations will be taking place,” Superintendent of Schools Alan J. Ingram wrote in a letter to DA Bennett. In response, Bennett wrote: “You have indicated that there will be no official business or deliberations regarding the school committee and you have set forth distinct and proper purposes for your event. These plans do not involve any open meeting law violation. Good luck!”

According to the newspaper report, Pamela H. Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, and Robert J. Ambrogi, executive director of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, both cautioned that the committee needs to be careful in what they talk about this weekend. In his Media Log blog, Ambrogi noted that “the school committee is treading on dangerous turf here. If they are huddled together over the course of a couple days, with a facilitator whose agenda is school reform, discussing this all day, sharing cocktails and meals in the evenings, it seems highly unlikely that they can avoid discussing school policy and business.”

In Franklin, we have always been cautious about meetings involving members of the Franklin School Committee. To begin, we do not conduct retreats at resorts, but we do participate in annual self-evaluations consistent with School Committee policy. These events are held in public buildings in town and are posted in accordance with the Open Meeting Law. Members of the public and press typically attend.

There is indeed value in reviewing policies, practices and procedures, and retreats are helpful ways to measure progress. But doing so outside of the public eye, and in a resort environment when communities are cash-starved, is not an effective way of building trust. In this instance, the critics are justified in calling Springfield’s retreat into question.

Posted in Community Relations | Leave a Comment »

FY11 budget to be presented at next meeting

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on March 7, 2010

On Tuesday, March 9, 2010, the School Committee will discuss the details of the proposed FY11 school department budget. The FY11 budget book included below contains the proposal for budget expenditures in the Franklin School Department for the 2010-2011 school year. Overall, it shows a 3.89% increase from the current budget, and maintains level services for the school system. You can use this copy to follow the discussion at Tuesday’s meeting.

Posted in Budget | Leave a Comment »

Study sheds light on teen sleeping

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on March 2, 2010

The first field study on the impact of light on teenagers’ sleeping habits finds that insufficient daily morning light exposure contributes to teenagers not getting enough sleep.

“As teenagers spend more time indoors, they miss out on essential morning light needed to stimulate the body’s 24-hour biological system, which regulates the sleep/wake cycle,” reports Mariana Figueiro, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Program Director at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s
Lighting Research Center (LRC) and lead researcher on the new study.

“These morning-light-deprived teenagers are going to bed later, getting less sleep and possibly under-performing on standardized tests. We are starting to call this the teenage night owl syndrome.”

In the study just published in Neuroendocrinology Letters, Dr. Figueiro and LRC Director Dr. Mark Rea found that eleven 8th grade students who wore special glasses to prevent short-wavelength (blue) morning light from reaching their eyes experienced a 30-minute delay in sleep onset by the end of the 5-day study. You can view the abtract for the study by clicking here.

“If you remove blue light in the morning, it delays the onset of melatonin, the hormone that indicates to the body when it’s nighttime,” explains Dr. Figueiro. “Our study shows melatonin onset was delayed by about 6 minutes each day the teens were restricted from blue light. Sleep onset typically occurs about 2 hours after melatonin onset.”

The problem is that today’s middle and high schools have rigid schedules requiring teenagers to be in school very early in the morning. These students are likely to miss the morning light because they are often traveling to and arriving at school before the sun is up or as it’s just rising. “This disrupts the connection between daily biological rhythms, called circadian rhythms, and the earth’s natural 24-hour light/dark cycle,” explains Dr. Figueiro.

In addition, the schools are not likely providing adequate electric light or daylight to stimulate this biological or circadian system, which regulates body temperature, alertness, appetite, hormones and sleep patterns. Our biological system responds to light much differently than our visual system. It is much more sensitive to blue light. Therefore, having enough light in the classroom to read and study does not guarantee that there is sufficient light to stimulate our biological system.

“According to our study, however, the situation in schools can be changed rapidly by the conscious delivery of daylight, which is saturated with short-wavelength, or blue, light,” reports Dr. Figueiro.

Throughout her research, Dr. Figueiro has repeatedly come face-to-face with the enormous concern of parents over teenagers going to bed too late. “Our findings pose two questions: “How will we promote exposure to morning light and how will we design schools differently?” says Dr. Figueiro.

The study findings should have significant implications for school design. “Delivering daylight in schools may be a simple, non-pharmacological treatment for students to help them increase sleep duration,” concludes Dr. Figueiro.

Posted in Health & Safety | Leave a Comment »

Central Falls’ Superintendent Fires Teachers

Posted by Bill Glynn on February 24, 2010

You’ve probably heard that the Superintendent of schools for Central Falls, Rhode Island fired all of the high school teachers. The Providence Journal article can be found here: As of this posting, there are 655 comments posted against that article and it’s worth scanning through some of them.

Teaching is one of those professions that can be associated with words such as passion, dedication, and caring. Consequently, it is disheartening to think that the Superintendent, the faculty, and the School Committee may never have sat down and had serious discussions about how to best address the school’s problems, which are multi-faceted, not easily solved, and, in some cases, beyond the ability of the school district to fix. However, the Superintendent was tasked with “fixing” the school. It is certainly within the Superintendent’s purview to create the get well plan, but prudence would suggest that working together with the teachers, at a minimum, would be fundamental to any potential solution.

Equally disconcerting is the union’s rejection of the Superintendent’s plan, not based upon the plan’s potential effectiveness, but based upon selfish and misplaced priorities. It’s impossible to determine from this article exactly how the union came to its position and whether or not that position actually reflects the view of the faculty at large. However, the union’s position is troubling. When demands to negotiate take priority over the overwhelming need to work together, that’s a problem. When more time is spent searching the fine print of a contract or seeking a legal opinion than researching best practices for motivating and connecting with students, that’s a problem. When education is waning and students are suffering and the voice of the teacher goes unsolicited or is organizationally silenced, that’s a problem.

There is a lot more to this story to be sure and the comments about the students’ and parents’ lack of caring can’t be ignored as being one potential root cause of the problem. Nevertheless, it is abundantly clear that this school and these students are in trouble. Students must always be the primary focus of the education system and their needs must always take precedence when making decisions, even when powerful forces with misguided priorities stand in the way. This is an extreme situation and any resolution will require that all parties work together. Unfortunately, not all parties have been focused on the well being of the students and now the teachers will join the students as collateral damage. In the dictionary, collaboration precedes collective bargaining and that priority needs to be reflected in practice. An organization that loses sight of its primary responsibility to represent its members and instead adopts a set of priorities inextricably linked to its own desires is an organization of dubious purpose.

Posted in Articles of interest | Leave a Comment »

Junk food ban is the latest unfunded mandate

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on January 29, 2010

Junk food in schools is the latest topic in unfunded mandates. The Boston Globe is urging the state House of Representatives to approve a bill directing the state Department of Public Health to set standards that, in effect, would push schools to sell healthy snacks instead of junk food. Click here to view the full Globe piece.

It’s a laudable goal, and makes some sense from the perspective of healthy children, but it comes at a cost. It means more regulation, more administration and monitoring, and more reporting. At a time when local budgets are thin, adding additional costs does not make sense. This is particularly true when most school districts have had to pare back health and physical education programs to balance their budgets.

According to the Globe, the state standards would follow 2007 guidelines from the Institute of Medicine, a scientific panel that advises the federal government (Click here to view the IOM report). It called for replacing soda with water, juice, and low-fat or skim milk; offering snacks with lower fat and sugar, and making fresh fruits and vegetables available to students. The House bill would also encourage schools to sell fresh foods from local farmers. It establishes a governor’s commission to develop a coordinated statewide plan to tackle childhood obesity.

In Franklin, we are again looking at reduced education spending, and we simply cannot afford another unfunded mandate. We cannot afford increased government spending at this time and urge the defeat of this bill. Instead, we urge the legislature to increase school funding to restore health and physical education programs. In the meantime, we are exploring on our own ways to deliver healthier lunches to students in our schools.

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Education blogs worth viewing

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on January 16, 2010

Washington Post reporter and education blogger Jay Matthews and his blogging Post colleague Valerie Strauss highlighted their picks for best education blogs for 2010. They sought a mix of the serious and the sublime, and disqualified the legendary education blogs they already display in the margins of their own blogs. Mathews blog can be found by clicking here. Strauss’s blog can be found by clicking here.

Here is the list for 2010, along with descriptions provided by Matthews and Strauss. You can view the blogs themselves by clicking on the hyper-linked titles:

A Passion for Teaching and Opinions : By a northern California teacher and coach, one of the best written and most interesting of teacher blogs. Good with an expletive, like my favorite coaches, he often makes me laugh.–Jay.

Assorted Stuff: The blogger is a Fairfax County (Virginia) schools tech guy who kicks me around frequently, thus getting extra points–Jay.

Charter Insights: Fun to read, very droll, focuses mostly on Colorado but has some national insights.–Jay

Free Tech 4 Teachers: I am not qualified to judge ed tech blogs, but we need to have some. Many readers mentioned these guys, and they seem smart and vivid.–Jay

Educated Reporter: Author and former Washington Post reporter Linda Perlstein is public editor for the Education Writers Association. Her writing is aimed at helping journalists improve coverage of schools and children but is accessible to non-journalists as well.–Valerie

Education Policy Blog: Smart educators, including local classroom star Ken Bernstein, a.k.a. teacherken. They debate everything from school lunches to standards. –Jay

Education Week–Bridging Differences: Diane Ravitch and Deborah Meier may be the most knowledgeable and articulate education experts in the country.–Jay

Eduoptimists : A professor of education and a director of education policy take in-depth looks at “the power of sociey, schools, colleges and educators to empower individuals, further learning, and reduce inequities … and have a little fun along the way.” — Valerie

GFBrandenburg’s Blog: This blogger loathes the D.C. schools chancellor, so his work is instructive for Rhee fans like me. He is terrific with statistics and a dogged reporter.

Inside School Research with Debra Viadero: Veteran education reporter Debra Viadero of Education Week knows how to dig into research on schools and learning and tell us whether it makes sense or not. Her posts are informative and lively.–Valerie

My Bellringers: Here are the tart observations of a Texas teacher and author. She has been flogging her book lately, but what’s wrong with that? –Jay

National Journal : A well-rounded blog that presents a wide of voice on all aspects of education policy.– Valerie

New America Foundation blogs: Early Ed Watch, Higher Ed Watch, Ed Money Watch all offer informative and original reporting and analysis on their respective subjects.–Valerie

Public School Insights: Sponsored by a consortium of districts, the Learning First Alliance, this site has a very smart and interesting blogger who ranges wide over the country.–Jay

Schoolgate: Journalist Sarah Ebner helps readers understand what she calls “the maze” of Britain’s education system. –Valerie

Stories From School: National Certified teachers tell stories about how policy decisions impact learning and teaching. — Valerie

The Quick and the Ed: The blog of the independent think tank Education Sector offers unorthodox analysis on the latest in education policy and research on a range of education subjects.– Valerie

The Line: Smart, funny comments by a 7th grade teacher, Dina Strasser, who writes very well. — Jay

The Teachers Desk: By teacher Jacqueline McTaggert, this is a place where teachers share ideas and opinions–and parents can stop by too. McTaggert has some fun features, including “Dunce Cap,” where she dishonors somebody every month for doing something dumb, and “Gold Star,” where she gives praise where praise is due.– Valerie

This Week in Education: Journalist and former Senate education staffer Alexander Russo writes about everything happening in education news and politics. Always something new to learn.–Valerie

Posted in Articles of interest | Leave a Comment »

OPM selected for FHS project

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on January 14, 2010

The Franklin Building Committee voted unanimously to authorize the Town Administrator to enter in negotiations for a contract for Daedulus Project Management to act as the Owners Project Manager on the FHS renovation project.

Daedulus has managed five projects for the town, including several schools, plus the senior center and fire station. On each of the five they have saved the community money and returned money to the town, including $750,000 on the ECDC/Oak/HMMS effort. Their construction phasing skills are superior, as is their working relationship with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).

The selection vote followed a scoring process developed by the building professionals on the committee, who performed an in-depth review of the proposals of the three finalists (RF White and Vertex were the other two). The building committee interviewed each of the three firms for an hour each, and discussed the firms as a committee for 45 minutes before the vote.

As building committee member Ed Cafasso noted, “this selection is a big step toward making sure this project gets planned and delivered in a smart, timely and cost-effective way for our stakeholders and the community at large.”

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Digital Generation Project is helpful resource

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on December 30, 2009

Today’s kids are born digital — born into a media-rich, networked world of infinite possibilities. But their digital lifestyle is about more than just cool gadgets; it’s about engagement, self-directed learning, creativity, and empowerment.

The Digital Generation Project tells their stories so that educators and parents can understand how kids learn, communicate, and socialize in very different ways than any previous generation.

And the video to the right is one of the many offered on the site.  It is Henry Jenkins, USC media professor, talking about new media and implications for learning and teaching.  He describes the role of digital media in cultural transformation.

To see the video, click here or on the image to the right.

Posted in Articles of interest, Videos | Leave a Comment »

What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century?

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on December 23, 2009

What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century? It is an important and relevant issue that invites dialogue from educators who work with youth. The world is changing and schools are required to make those changes necessary to help youth become fully competent, critical, and thoughtful citizens in the world they live in.

Here is a video from Heidi Clark and Anita Bramhoff, two Canadian teachers who made the film as part of some work at the University of British Columbia. It is an exploration of the definition of literacy: more specifically, of what it means to be a literate person in the 21st Century. The producers are reflective practitioners who have strong literacy backgrounds. As practicing teachers they have a vested interest in this subject. The producers realize that new media in a technological world is shaping the lives of youth and that as a result, redefining the literacy skills that will be necessary for youth to be able to function successfully in the world they are growing up in. The latter implies, by necessity, that the how, what and why of teaching literacy must also change.

Enjoy the video which lasts approximately eight minutes.

Posted in Articles of interest, Teaching | 1 Comment »

Cyber-bullying can be protected speech

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on December 14, 2009

One morning in May 2008, an eighth-grader walked into her school counselor’s office at a Beverly Hills school crying. She was upset and humiliated and couldn’t possibly go to class, the girl told the counselor. The night before, a classmate had posted a video on YouTube with a group of other eighth-graders bad-mouthing her, calling her “spoiled,” a “brat” and a “slut.” Text and instant messages had been flying since.

This incident, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times, is all too familiar to school officials throughout the country. It’s referred to as cyber-bullying, and it highlights the much-debated problem of identifying and limiting the authority that a school has over the online expression of its students. A murky trail of legal cases and decisions have left school officials wondering what to do. But in several cases, the courts have told schools to back off because cyber-bullying, while it may be offensive, constitutes protected speech.

In the Beverly Hills incident, disciplinary action was taken by the school district resulting in the suspension of the girl responsible for posting the offensive video online. The suspended student took the case to federal court, saying her free speech rights were violated.

A United States District judge in Los Angeles sided with the student, saying the school went too far. In a 60 page opinion, Judge Steven V. Wilson wrote:

To allow the school to cast this wide a net and suspend a student simply because another student takes offense to their speech, without any evidence that such speech caused a substantial disruption of the school’s activities, runs afoul (of the law). . . .  The court cannot uphold school discipline of student speech simply because young persons are unpredictable or immature, or because, in general, teenagers are emotionally fragile and may often fight over hurtful comments.

To view the full opinion, click here.

The United States Supreme Court has not yet weighed in on the First Amendment issues at play. But lower courts throughout the country have tackled the issue and protected the speech. In Pennsylvania, a student sued his school district after he was suspended for 10 days and placed in an alternative education program for creating what he claimed was a parody MySpace profile of the school principal. On the Web site, the student referred to the principal as a “big steroid freak,” and a “big whore,” among other things, and stated that he was “too drunk to remember” the date of his birthday.

District Court Judge Terrence McVerry found that even though the profile was unquestionably “lewd, profane and sexually inappropriate,” the school did not have the right to restrict the student’s speech because school officials were not able to establish that the profile caused enough of a disruption on campus. “The mere fact that the Internet may be accessed at school does not authorize school officials to become censors of the world-wide web,” he wrote. That case is pending in the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. To read the lower court opinion, click here.

Administrators barred a Connecticut high school student from running in a student election after the student criticized administrators online for their handling of a student festival. You can read more about this case by clicking here.

In Florida, the ACLU sued a principal on behalf of a student who was suspended and removed from her honors class for “cyber-bullying.” Katie Evans had created a Facebook page criticizing an English teacher as “the worst teacher I’ve ever met,” and invited others to express their “feelings of hatred.” Click here for information on that case.

Closer to home, five Miscoe Hill School (Mendon, MA) students were suspended after officials pegged them as participants in a Facebook group devoted to slapping a school official. You can read the full report from the Milford Daily News by clicking here.

An in-depth article from the Boston College Law Review analyzes recent cases on the issue and argues that courts should apply a “control and supervision” test, derived from the analysis used in negligent supervision cases and Title IX cases for student-on-student sexual harassment, to determine whether a school has the authority to discipline a student for his or her online speech.

While we have not been directly confronted with the issue in Franklin, we did have some policy discussions several months ago concerning the use of social media in the school setting. Our resulting policy attempted to balance the First Amendment with the need to provide a safe environment for students. We also recognized that these are evolving issues, and that we should endeavor to teach students to properly use resources, including online tools. Those policies reflect the spirit of the words of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens in New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 385−86 (1985): “The schoolroom is the first opportunity most citizens have to experience the power of government. Through it passes every citizen and public official, from schoolteachers to policemen and prison guards. The values they learn there, they take with them in life.”

Stay tuned as there will certainly be updates as the law continues to evolve in this area.

Posted in Policy | 1 Comment »

Snowstorm not Snowday

Posted by Bill Glynn on December 14, 2009

Snowstorm not Snow Day

Well, we had our first “snowstorm” of the season last week, but we didn’t use our first snow day. Sometimes, it’s easy to make the school / no school decision; perhaps even making the decision the night before. Safety is always the primary concern, but many things factor into the decision, such as when will the storm start, when will it end, how much total snow is expected, etc. Our Superintendent of schools makes the decision of whether or not to cancel school and she heard from a few folks that disagreed with her decision.

Things got messy, the road conditions made for some difficult driving and many of the buses ran behind schedule. Some people thought that school should have been canceled. With the benefit of hindsight, they may have been right. However, the decision wasn’t so easy at 5am or so when it needed to be made. At that time, the snow had only recently started falling, the roads were primarily just wet, and the forecast called for a very quick turn to rain. That’s the information that was available at decision time. As the morning progressed, the road conditions became a factor, but the DPW probably made snowplow decisions based upon the same forecast information. In addition, the DPW also had to consider the realities of their snowplow budget when making their decisions.

We have a long winter season ahead of us. So, while we will all have a viewpoint on whether or not to cancel school, the decision that each of us has to make is how to react to the Superintendent’s school closing decision. For those of you who decided to pick up the phone last week and verbally abuse the Superintendent and her staff, please note that the same phone number can be used to make your apologies.

Posted in Community Relations | Leave a Comment »

Newbie View on the Committee

Posted by Bill Glynn on December 13, 2009

I’d like to share a few thoughts with the community and provide a bit of insight from the perspective of a new School Committee member. First of all, thank you for voting me in as a School Committee member. I have a strong desire to work for the betterment of Franklin’s schools and I’m glad to be working toward that goal with my fellow Committee members. Before becoming a member, I had no idea how the School Committee worked. Now with a month’s worth of experience behind me, I can honestly say that I don’t know much more than I did back in October and there is a lot to learn!!

When the voting results were posted, Cynthia Douglas (our Committee’s other new member) got the highest number of votes and I received the second highest number of votes. There were 7 candidates for 7 seats and there were widely varying vote totals for the 7 of us. I wondered why that was. I’m thinking that the two new members got the highest vote totals because politics is, well, politics and many times the view that “new” is “better” rules the day. Well, change can be good but continuity can also be good.

Case in Point: I read a comment posted to a Milford Daily News article about the election where someone took offense at the fact that the top vote getter didn’t become the Committee Chair and that the Committee should be ashamed of itself. Well, extending that viewpoint, I guess I should have become the Vice Chair because I was the 2nd highest vote getter. It doesn’t work that way. The public voting is to elect candidates to the Committee and the Committee as a whole determines the Chair and Vice Chair, which is appropriate. The Committee should get to decide how to organize itself and who should lead the Committee. I for one am glad that we have retained the same Committee leadership. It may not look like it on the surface, but the Committee has a lot of work to do and the Chairs have even more on their plate. I wouldn’t have wanted to take on a Committee Chair position and I wouldn’t have wanted election results to have imposed that position upon me. The fact that the Committee voting on that issue was unanimous is an indication that Committee leadership was not a contentious issue within the Committee itself. However, based upon the number of questions I have already asked him, our Committee Chair Jeff Roy may be rethinking this issue J  In this situation, continuity has enabled the Committee to keep its eye on the ball and continue to focus its efforts on issues that benefit Franklin’s schools.

Moving forward, I will share my thoughts as a new School Committee member and try to provide some insight on Committee activities. In the first month “on the job”, I (along with other Committee members) visited the Jefferson School with Governor Patrick, attended a meeting of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (on Saturday 12/12/09) to review and discuss the upcoming education reform bill, will attend a meeting with State Representative Jim Vallee at the State House next Tuesday, have our 3rd regularly scheduled Committee meeting that night, and take an all-day tour of the Franklin Schools the following day. While we realize that people are especially busy during holiday season, it would be great to see more people at the Committee meetings. Please try to attend a meeting sometime soon and it would also be great to hear your thoughts during the public comment section.

Posted in Community Relations | 1 Comment »

Franklin Arts Academy unveiled

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on December 9, 2009

A few years ago, during one of our budget discussions, Remington Middle School art teacher Roseanne Walsh appeared before the School Committee and recommended that we read and absorb the ideas contained in Daniel Pink’s book entitled A Whole New Mind. In the book, Pink argues that business and everyday life will soon be dominated by right-brain thinkers and he identified the roots and implications of transitioning from a society dominated by left-brain thinkers into something entirely different. With Pink’s book in hand, Ms. Walsh spoke eloquently about the importance of maintaining arts in education to cultivate this right brain thinking. I like to think that we listened.

Through the years, we have attempted to strengthen our arts programs in the school system, recognizing their importance in the learning environment. Indeed, that connection was highlighted again recently by a Boston Globe article which reported on work being done by Boston surgeon to study the effects of music in the operating room. As noted in the article, surgeons have long listened to music while they work – everything from classical to Celtic to rock. They say it helps them relax and concentrate. You can read the full article by clicking here.

This recognition and commitment to the arts in Franklin received a recent boost with the announcement of plans to establish a Franklin Arts Academy at Franklin High School. As noted in the mission statement, the “Franklin Arts Academy will inspire students to learn through the Arts. As a nurturing community, the Academy will be a space where students can flourish within an academic and cultural climate that promotes creation, individuality, and critical thinking through an integrated, project-based curriculum.” The project has several goals:

  • To create a small learning community that provides students with the skills and opportunities that will foster artistic growth through active participation, engaging them in their own learning.
  • To connect with and provide culture for the community-at-large.
  • To teach the students 21st century skills for our ever-changing and interdependent world.
  • To provide a learning environment that is heterogeneous, where students can demonstrate their abilities and growth through assessments that meet the levels of proficiency for college entrance.
  • To introduce work experience through the exploration of employment, internships, and graduate educational opportunities.
  • To create a thriving art scene.

It is a teacher driven initiative and received kudos from the New England Association of schools and colleges in its November 24, 2009 letter continuing Franklin High’s accreditation. The FAA committee — which is led by teachers Michael Caple and Marushka Waters — produced a short video which describes the Academy and vision for the project. You can view it by clicking on the image below, or clicking here.

This is certainly one of the more exciting projects to emerge from Franklin school system, and I urge you to learn more about the program.


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Retired teacher celebrates 100th birthday

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on November 29, 2009

Helen Cataldo Carberry celebrated her 100th birthday with friends, relatives and former students in her home on Sunday. A 1927 graduate of Franklin High, Mrs. Carberry taught 5th grade in the Franklin School system from 1932 through 1973. She taught at the Horace Mann School which was housed on Emmons Street where the old town hall sits.

Mrs. Carberry and her family shared stories, photographs, and mementos from her days as a teacher in the system. She also displayed the accolades she has received from federal, state and local officials.

Ellen McGrath from the Franklin Alumni Association offered remarks about Mrs. Carberry’s tenure in the Franklin Schools, along with facts from the year of her birth (1909) and the list of classmates from the FHS class of 1927.

Meeting people like Mrs. Carberry is one of the fun parts of the job of serving on the School Committee. She shares the commitment to public education and brings energy and enthusiasm to the mission.

Happy 100th Mrs. Carberry!

You can read more about Mrs. Carberry in the Milford Daily News by clicking here.

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Letter questions emotional statements about election

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on November 14, 2009

This interesting and insightful letter to the editor appeared in the November 13, 2009 edition of the Franklin Country Gazette. I have never met the author of the letter, but thought he captured the spirit of many of us who are involved in Franklin government. I have included it in this space — in full and unedited — because it conveys a powerful message and delivers words that must be heeded.

Posted in Articles of interest | 1 Comment »

Anonymous posters must be revealed in defamation cases

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on November 14, 2009

As an active participant in government affairs, I have seen my share of anonymous blogs and online reader comments under newspaper articles. At times, they can be quite unflattering to put it mildly. There is no question that many of the comments are robust and shed sunlight on issues of the day. But sometimes the comments cross the line and are defamatory. Back in July, I expressed concern about the increase in the use of these anonymous postings on newspaper and other blogs (click here to read that post). An Illinois court decision from last week urged me to explore this topic further.

On November 9, an Illinois judge issued an order to a newspaper compelling it to disclose an unknown individual using the pseudonym “Hip check 16” who made a posting on the Daily Herald website which defamed a Buffalo Grove Village Trustee’s minor son. You can read the story of that case by clicking here. In the ruling, the court noted that the right to speak anonymously, on the internet or otherwise, is not absolute and does not protect speech that would otherwise be unprotected. The right to speak must be balanced against the right of an offended party to seek redress.

There is no doubt that speech on the internet receives First Amendment protection and that includes protection for anonymous speech. The United States Supreme Court reaffirmed that right in Buckley v. Am. Constitutional Law Found., 525 U.S. 182, 199 (1999). In that case, the Court also recognized the Internet as a valuable forum for robust exchange and debate. The opinion goes on to say that through the use of online devices “any person with a phone line can become a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than it could from any soapbox. Courts also recognize that anonymity is a particularly important component of Internet speech. Internet anonymity facilitates the rich, diverse, and far ranging exchange of ideas; the constitutional rights of Internet users, including the First Amendment right to speak anonymously, must be carefully safeguarded.”

At the same time, however, there is no right to freely defame others. As with most freedoms, we must heed to the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes who said: “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” And that’s what we must consider when balancing the rights of anonymous posters with the right of others to protect their good names.

Here is a look at some other cases which have cropped up around the country on this issue:

A Tennessee state court ruled in October Donald and Terry Keller Swartz are entitled to discover the identity of the anonymous blogger behind the Stop Swartz blog who published critical statements about them and encouraged readers to post information on their whereabouts and activities. In his decision, Judge Thomas W. Brothers adopted a legal standard highly protective of anonymous online speech, but found that the Swartzes had come forward with sufficient evidence in support of their claims of wrongdoing to outweigh the anonymous blogger’s right to anonymity. This video clip of the actual court hearing in that case gives you a firsthand look at the legal issues presented. Click here to view it.

In Doe I v. Individuals, 561 F. Supp. 2d 249, 254-56 (D. Conn. 2008), female students at Yale Law School sued unknown individuals using thirty-nine different pseudonymous names to post on a law school admissions website named A number of anonymous posts contained threatening and derogatory comments about minority groups, sexuality, and incitement of criminal activity. In that case, the court ordered the web provider to disclose the blogger’s identity and noted that the plaintiff had shown sufficient evidence supporting a prima facie case for libel, and thus the balancing test of the plaintiff’s interest in pursuing discovery in this case outweighed the defendant’s First Amendment right to speak anonymously.

For further reading, and to see how other courts have ruled on these issues (both for and against disclosure), click the links to the following decisions: Solers, Inc. v. Doe, 977 A.2d 941, 954-57 (D.C. 2009); Sinclair v. TubeSockTedD, 2009 WL 320408, at *2 (D.D.C. Feb. 10, 2009); Krinsky v. Doe 6, 159 Cal.App. 4th 1154 (Cal. Ct. App. 2008);); Quixtar Inc. v. Signature Mgmt. Team, LLC, 566 F. Supp.2d 1205, 1216 (D. Nev. 2008); Mobilisa v. Doe, 170 P.3d 712, 720-21 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2007); Greenbaum v. Google, 845 N.Y.S.2d 695, 698-99 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2007); In re Does 1-10, ;”>242 S.W.3d 805, 822-23 (Tex. Ct. App. 2007); McMann v. Doe, 460 F. Supp.2d 259, 268 (D. Mass. 2006); Highfields Capital Mgmt. v. Doe, 385 F. Supp.2d 969, 975-76 (N.D. Cal. 2005);  Doe v. Cahill, 884 A.2d 451 (Del. 2005). Best Western Int’l v. Doe, 2006 WL 2091695, at * (D. Ariz. 2006); Reunion Indus. v. Doe, 2007 WL 1453491 (Penn. Ct. Comm. Pleas Mar. 5, 2007).

The bottom line is robust dialog is always welcome. But defamatory speech is not. It is good to see that the courts are willing to open the doors to the anonymous world when speech crosses the line. That should serve as notice to posters that they should consider the legal, moral and ethical components of their comments. And they should be careful with their facts. Because if they are not, the courts will offer assistance to those who seek redress.

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Governor visits Franklin’s Jefferson School

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on November 7, 2009

It was both refreshing and energizing. Governor Deval Patrick traveled to Franklin yesterday to spend time with the students and staff at Jefferson Elementary School and enlivened the day.

The visit gave the Governor a firsthand account of education spending in action.

The visit was coordinated by Representative James Vallee. “I wanted to bring the governor here to show him just how much funding affects our district,” Vallee said. “Quite frankly, I’m concerned about the future and I want to show the governor and community that we are 100 percent committed to maintaining education funding.”

Complete newspaper coverage of the visit can be viewed by clicking here. As noted in the story, during his visit, Gov. Patrick stressed the importance of education funding through tough budget times. “We have protected funding for public schools,” Patrick said. “That is about the kids and the value we place on them.”

Also during the visit, the Governor participated in Mr. Goguen’s history class using SMARTBoard technology. “The purpose of this technology is to reinforce what I am teaching,” Goguen said.

Following the classroom visit, Gov. Patrick dined with elementary students in the cafeteria.

It was certainly encouraging to have the Governor see our schools and engage with our students. The education of our young is one of the great hallmarks of our community, and the visit highlighted the support we receive in this effort from our state officials in this effort.

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FHS building project moving to design phase

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on October 12, 2009

The Franklin High School renovation project is advancing and the project’s scope is expected to be presented to the community in 12 to 18 months. School Committee member Ed Cafasso, a member of the FHS building committee, provides this update:

Last week, following approval by the Finance Committee, the Town Council voted unanimously to authorize a $1 million bond for the next phase of the FHS renovation. This funding allows Franklin to hire an Owners Project Manager (OPM) and an Architect to bring the project to the schematic design phase. Under the rules of Massachusetts School Building Authority (SBA), if the Town commits to financing the full cost of this phase, the SBA will refund an estimated 30 – 45%.

The Milford Daily News covered the issue when it came before the Finance Committee ( and Town Council ( The newspaper stories said the funding would go to “a study.”

That description is off the mark. The bonding authorized this week will result in actual schematic diagrams of the likely renovations, showing the components of the project and its scale. These diagrams will be prepared by a professional architect in close collaboration with an experienced project manager and with members of the Building Committee.

This phase of the project is NOT the same as the study completed in October 2006 by the firm Kaestle Boos, which looked at FHS at the request of the School Committee. It provided a general look of the building’s condition and a “blue sky” assessment of what might be done, ranging from minimal fixes to the construction of a completely new building. You can view the 2006 report by clicking here, and additional information, including the video of the presentation to the School Committee, by clicking here.

The funding authorized this past week allows Franklin to move forward to hire the professional project manager and architect  who will produce the formal schematic designs for renovation work. Every step occurs under the formal supervision of the SBA and the local Building Committee. The design options will be based on the specific renovation ideas that were part of the Town’s application for SBA funding. Those renovation ideas arose from a tour of the FHS building in December 2008 by professional SBA inspection team and subsequent discussions between members of the Building Committee and SBA officials.

The hiring of an Owner’s Project Manager is required by the SBA and by state law. The OPM should be in place by December or January and the Architect should be on board by March or April. Once schematic design is complete, and there is an agreement with all parties involved, including the SBA, a debt exclusion will be required to move toward construction.

Approximately 12 to 18 months from now, Franklin voters will have a very clear picture of the renovation project – the precise work involved, the cost and the timing – and will be asked to vote on whether the town should borrow the amount needed to pay for it over time. If voters approve the debt exclusion, a substantial portion of the total cost (a minimum of 31 percent) will be reimbursed by the state.

Keep in mind that the exact timing of every step in this process is controlled largely by the SBA, which holds tight supervision over all projects they are likely are to subsidize. Information on the general SBA process is available by clicking here.

You can learn more about the FHS project on this Tuesday night (Oct. 13) when Tom Mercer, chairman of the School Building Committee, discusses this phase of work the School Committee at a meeting that begins at 7 pm the Municipal Building. Middle school parents may wish to tune in or attend.

Posted in FHS project | Leave a Comment »

Panther Pride night at FHS coming up

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on October 10, 2009

In a few days, parents of 8th grade students will receive a formal invitation in the mail to attend this year’s Panther Pride Night at Franklin High School on Wednesday, October 21, 2009. This is going to be an informative and exciting opportunity for parents and students to explore the scope and quality of the engaging educational and extracurricular programs and facilities that FHS offers to students. All 8th grade parents and students are invited to attend this informative event that will include multimedia presentations, walking tours, information about our graduates. The evening will also highlight the opportunities for learning, sports, clubs, and activities.

Join the FHS team on Oct. 21st in the Field House where Principal Peter Light will kick-off the evening’s activities, followed by an informational video about the opportunities and experiences that are available to incoming freshmen. After the video, parents and students will be escorted in small groups through the high school where they will have the opportunity to obtain more information about our academic programs and facilities, explore the newly organized Technology Center, sample the new Fitness Center, and view classroom resources at various stops throughout the school. A visit to the Art Gallery and DECA Store are also on the planned tour route. In addition, faculty, administrators, and students will be available in the Field House to provide more information and to answer any questions that you may have about the FHS community.

To allow sufficient time for all parents and students to participate in the Panther Pride experience, there will be two sessions offered based on a student’s last name. The first session will start at 5:30pm (for students with last names beginning with the letters A-K), and the second session will begin at 6:30pm (for students with last names L-Z). If you are an 8th grade parent or student, this year’s Panther Pride night is an event that is not to be missed. So mark your calendar now for Wednesday, October 21st.

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Testing the limits of pledging allegiance

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on October 9, 2009

Pledging allegiance to the flag may seem like a simple act, but it is not immune from controversy or constitutional inquiry. The limits on school systems have been tested over the years, and there have been some recent court decisions on the issue.

Before looking at the decisions, it is important to note that the Pledge of Allegiance, as a ceremonial activity, promotes both civic awareness and patriotism. The Pledge represents an opportunity to reflect on the fact that, although we are a diverse people, we share a national identity as citizens who are committed to the promise of liberty and justice for all. With that being said, we need to be cognizant of the rights of those who may not wish to participate in this ceremony.

A federal district court in New Hampshire has ruled that the state’s statute requiring the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools does not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment or Free Exercise of Religion Clauses. You can view the full decision by clicking here. It also rejected claims that the state’s pledge law violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. In addition, it summarily dismissed the claim that the pledge law was void as against public policy on the ground of failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Lastly, the district court dismissed all state law claims without prejudice, allowing them to be refiled in state court.

In that case, the parents of three public school students objected to their children being subjected to recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in school. Specifically, the parents, who identify themselves and their children as atheist or agnostic, contended the pledge offended their and their children’s rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment and Free Exercise of Religion Clauses because of the inclusion of the phrase “under God” in the pledge. They also raised Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection claims, along with the claim that the pledge law was void as against public policy. In the aftermath of September 11 attacks, the state legislature passed the New Hampshire Patriot Act, which provided for the daily recitation of the pledge in the state’s schools. The statute made student participation voluntary by providing an opt-out clause. While conceding that the children were not compelled to recite the pledge, the parents sought assurances from the principals at their children’s schools that the pledge would not be recited in their children’s classes. However, no such assurances were given.

After briefly discussing the various approaches federal courts have taken to addressing the constitutionality of recitation of the pledge in school, the district court applied the three-prong Establishment Clause test set forth in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971). Regarding the secular purpose prong, it concluded that both the express purpose of the New Hampshire statute (continuing “the policy of teaching [the] country’s history to the elementary and secondary pupils of [the] state”) and the legislative history of the statute demonstrated a secular purpose. It pointed out that the record of the legislative discussions made clear that the law was enacted for patriotic, not religious, reasons. It also noted that the fact that when the pledge recitation law was revised by the legislature it was separated from the provision allowing recitation of the “Lord’s prayer” in schools, further supported the view the law had a secular purpose. Turning to the primary effect prong, the district court stressed that the government may not coerce an individual to support or participate in religion or its exercise. However, it found no coercive effect was present under New Hampshire’s law.

In 2008, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (AL, FL, GA) in Frazier v. Winn struck down a Florida state law that it found requires all students to stand at attention during the Pledge of Allegiance, even those excused from reciting the Pledge. However, the court upheld the law’s requirement that a student obtain parental permission to be excused from participating. You can view the Frazier decision by clicking here.

For a look at more cases under the religion clause of the first amendment, click here.

Posted in Policy | 1 Comment »

Justice offers some keen reading and an innovative online course

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on September 16, 2009

At a bookstore today, I stumbled upon a book called Justice: What’s the Right Thing to do? by Michael J. Sandel. I was first drawn in by the word “justice” on the cover, and on closer examination by the faces contained in the letters. Given my line of work in my day job, this book demanded closer examination. Which brought me to the inside jacket:

What are our obligations to others as people in a free society? Should government tax the rich to help the poor? Is the free market fair? Is it sometimes wrong to tell the truth? Is killing sometimes morally required? Is it possible, or desirable, to legislate morality? Do individual rights and the common good conflict?

Great questions, indeed. Upon further examination, we learn that the author is a Harvard professor who teaches a course called “Justice” at Harvard University. In the course, up to a thousand students pack the campus theater to hear Sandel relate the big questions of political philosophy to the most vexing issues of the day. Affirmative action, same-sex marriage, physician-assisted suicide, abortion, national service, patriotism and dissent, the moral limits of markets—Sandel dramatizes the challenge of thinking through these conflicts, and shows how a surer grasp of philosophy can help us make sense of politics, morality, and our own convictions as well.

The book led me to a website ( which contains a rather innovative online course covering these great questions. In the online course, Harvard opens its classroom to the world that helps viewers become more critically minded thinkers about the moral decisions we all face in our everyday lives. And it further introduces us to some of the fascinating aspects of technology in education. It demonstrates how classrooms can go beyond the four corners of a building, and how web 2.0 tools can lead to engaging and thoughtful discussions for an unlimited audience. And it points to yet another wave in teaching and learning, things we continue to explore in the Franklin school system.

For a glimpse of what the Justice course offers, check out the video posted below. And take advantage of this course offering and see what technology can do for your mind.

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First Annual Jenna Pasquino Memorial Foundation Golf Tournament

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on September 15, 2009

The Jenna Pasquino Memorial Foundation was started in 2009. The Foundation’s goal is to sponsor activities and programs such as scholarships to graduating seniors and charitable community organizations.

Jenna passed away this past April 30th in a motor vehicle accident in Bellingham MA and was taken from us at the young age of 20. Jenna was very involved in the community in Franklin where she lived, was a student in the Franklin Public Schools, and had many friends and family in town and also in the neighboring area.

Its first fundraiser is an annual golf tournament, with the proceeds going to a scholarship fund. This year it will be held on Saturday, October 17th at the Blissful Meadows Golf Club on Chockalog Rd in Uxbridge with tee off promptly at 8:00am. It will be 18 holes, followed by dinner, awards and a raffle. The cost is $125 per golfer. Any non-golfers are welcome to join the foundation for dinner at 1:00 pm, after the tournament at a cost of $30.

The Foundation is looking for tee and green sponsors, goodie bag items and/or gift certificates for services, meals, etc. or items that it can use for our raffle for the tournament.

The sponsor fee is $100 and your business name will appear on an individual sign at one of the holes for the entire tournament. It will also be publicized in the program given to each golfer, along with the list of all contributors. This is a great opportunity for you to get exposure for your business as well as supporting a very worthwhile cause.

We are included a sponsorship form/golfer’s registration form below for your convenience. If you would like to be a sponsor, and/or are interested in playing in the tournament, please fill out the enclosed forms and mail them back with your check to the Jenna Pasquino Memorial Foundation, c/o Erin Donahue, 30 Mill River St, Blackstone, MA 01504 . You can either create your own team or we will be putting together teams for individual registrants. Please respond ASAP so that you will be guaranteed a spot.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact one of the following organizers:

Erin Donahue at (508)641-5074

Andrew Spas at (401)330-6439

Dave Boyan at (508)579-2750

Kelley Byrnes-Benkart at (508)245-2336

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Jenifer Fox: Obama is Right, Developing Talent is Key in Education

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on September 13, 2009

I thought this was an interesting post and comment on the President’s speech to students and thus have posted a link using ShareThis.

Jenifer Fox: Obama is Right, Developing Talent is Key in Education

Here’s an excerpt, but click on the link to read the entire post:

President Obama implored school children to take responsibility for their own educations. He said, “I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.”

Mr. President is right. Once children know their own strengths and talents and understand how to put them to use, they can create their futures. Schools are very good at teaching children about their weaknesses and helping them see what they cannot do and what they do not know. We are far less skilled at teaching students to understand what they love to do. This should be the nation’s educational charge.

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