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August 31, 2013

Students' instruction time short-changed

I delivered this address to the Gloucester School Committee on Wednesday:

My name is Lisa Fornero and I live on Addison Street. I address you regarding my concerns with this School Committee and administration’s lack of focus on learning and instruction time.

Here, in Gloucester, we are blessed with some of the best teachers in the world. They are dedicated, passionate and highly qualified. Our children love them and they each have earned excellent reputations.

However, by scheduling so few hours of instruction, you are robbing our children of the best those teachers have to offer them — their instruction. We have put our children’s education in your hands and you are failing them.

The state of Massachusetts Department of Education is extremely clear on its expectations of school districts. You are not meeting those expectations. The math Dr. (Richard) Safier sent to me in his email of August 19th is simply incomplete. My question to this School Committee is: What are you going to do about it?

I urge you not to take my word for it. Do the math yourselves. You offer a 6-hour school day. There are 180 school days. Thirteen of those are scheduled to be half days. There is a 30-minute lunch, a 15-minute recess, about 15 minutes of transition times, about 10 minutes of homeroom activities, 15 minutes of snack, and now, another 10 minutes of breakfast.

Even if you count snack and breakfast as working times, you’re still not meeting the minimum time-frames. Do the math. Get out your calculators. I promise you, if you’re being truly honest with yourselves, you will not like the numbers you see as a result.

We have an opportunity to make a really positive change in the Gloucester schools.

Although many students have reported getting excellent educations here, our standardized test scores are not showing that. We need to get better. We need to do better.

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