Gov. Patrick’s education goals focus on Gateway City needs

Governor Deval Patrick announced a “renewed education strategy” today that places much-needed emphasis on the state’s Gateway Cities.* The plan is centered around four goals:

“1) getting every child to reading proficiency by the third grade;

(2) providing every child with a healthy platform for education;

(3) creating a differentiated education system that meets each student, particularly English Language Learners, where they are; and

(4) preparing all students for college and career success.”

To help Gateway Cities achieve the first goal, Gov. Patrick will establish a “Kindergarten Readiness Literacy Pilot Program” in these cities to provide intensive preparation for “at-risk” students during the summer before entering Kindergarten.

A “healthy platform for education” will be created through the creation of Student Support Councils and Counselors to address non-academic needs of Gateway City students and parents.

The third goal will be addressed through the Gateway Cities Summer English Learning Program that will provide intensive ELL support between school years.

Finally, career academies at Gateway City high schools are proposed to promote career and college readiness.

It will be interesting to see the plan, outlined in this press release, in greater detail to understand what implementation will look like and how its success will be evaluated. Nevertheless, it’s great to know that our smaller industrial cities will be getting some much needed attention, particularly in the areas of early literacy, ELL, and wraparound support.


*In this case, that means Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Quincy, Revere, Salem, Springfield, Taunton, Westfield and Worcester, according to the State House News Service.

UMass Dartmouth’s own Dr. Michael Goodman appears on Greater Boston

Watch Dr. Goodman weigh in on the status of Massachusetts’ middle class in an appearance on WGBH’s Greater Boston.

And to learn more about the MassINC project referenced, check out the 2011 Middle Class Index.

I Wish This Was

New Orleans artist Candy Chang created this project to engage city residents in a conversation about what to do with vacant storefronts. Read more about this innovative project here, and see the sticker for yourself below. Better yet, buy the sticker and start the conversation in your own community!


This sounds a lot like a conversation my husband and I have when walking around our New Bedford neighborhood (our conclusions are almost always a bakery or a Jewish deli). But the idea of putting those ideas on a sticker is quite appealing, especially because the stickers are designed for easy removal by the person who puts those ideas into action.

Talkin’ ’bout my generation

More and more urban policy research is looking at the critical role today’s 20- and 30-somethings (sometimes called Generation Y or Millennials) play in our cities. Just today, Brookings reported on migration trends of the 25-34 set–we’re apparently leaving young adult bastions like New York and LA for “cool” places like Portland, Austin, and DC.

New Orleans is another non-traditional destination growing in popularity, according to this Next American City article. Indeed, I can count at least a handful of friends who have recently relocated to the Big Easy to teach, attend grad school, run nonprofits, and deal with the aftermath of the oil spill. This is hardly a valid or generalizable sample, but I doubt any of this crowd imagined themselves living in Louisiana upon graduating from college.

If there’s a land of opportunity for my cohort, a glut of sources suggest it’s Detroit. (I’d argue that it should also include Gateway Cities like New Bedford and Fall River, but that’s for another day.) A recent editorial in the Detroit News argues that “Millenials will save Detroit.” And they have plenty of opportunities to do so, from social networking sites like “I am young Detroit” to the Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program, which nurtures a new generation of city leaders. At least from an outsider’s perspective, Detroit seems to offer young people a blank canvas with which to try new ideas, get their hands dirty, and have their voices recognized in the policy process.


Another green job!

Below is our second “green job” post in less than a week. As an aside, I’m curious as to whether there’s anything to be said about the recent abundance (relatively speaking, of course) of common good/public service jobs in the region. These are the kind of jobs that tend to attract younger, college-educated types, which is a population that is arguably essential to the ability of cities to prosper. Specifically, I wonder two things: 1) is the rate of job openings in this sector any faster than average, or am I just noticing it because I have a medium with which to share such opportunities?; and 2) how many people will apply/have applied to these postings? At least in other parts of the country–particularly in those cities that can attract young professionals effortlessly–hundreds of recent college grads are applying for even the most low-level nonprofit jobs available. Might be worth looking into. At any rate, here’s the latest gig available:

SouthCoast Energy Challenge Seeking Lead Organizer

Are you outgoing, energetic, and cheerful? The SouthCoast Energy Challenge is currently seeking an experienced organizer to take on outreach! The SouthCoast Energy Challenge is a free, neighbor-to-neighbor energy savings campaign. The goal is to engage people from all backgrounds across the SouthCoast to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, thereby enhancing long-term community sustainability. The primary focus of the Lead Community Organizer will be to plan and oversee Energy Challenge direct and indirect community outreach, develop and coordinate a volunteer base, and to manage the organizing interns. Download the full job description PDF here. Applications requested by Friday, October 21, at 5:00 pm. Please address all resume/cover letters to: Mercy Cover, Program Manager. Email: (Or) Mail to: SEEAL attn: Energy Challenge Organizer, 63 Union Street, New Bedford, MA 02740. Get details here.

Design + data = accessible urban policy

I’m a big fan of GOOD magazine (or at least their website) for its ability to make policy topics engaging and relevant and its cross-disciplinary approach to tackling challenges in cities, education, the environment, etc. etc. They devote quite a bit of content to design, and my news feed highlighted a recent bit they did on a new initiative undertaken by AIGA (the design world’s professional association). Called Design for Good, this engages graphic designers in efforts to use their talents to improve outcomes in their communities.

At the end of the day, what good is policy research if it’s not easily understood by stakeholders? The visual display of information can help overcome the accessibility gap. Moreover, it’s easy to see how the marriage of policy and design will become almost essential to effective communication: for one, we’re increasingly used to getting our information in snapshots (see: this blog), so it would follow that the best way to compete with ever-shortening attention spans is to make data look cool. Finally, the proliferation of infographics makes Excel-generated charts and graphs look tired and antiquated. (Infographics:Wii as Excel charts:Atari.)

Aligned with AIGA’s efforts is GOOD’s recent challenge to designers to redesign the report card. Think about how effectively this could show parents not just where their kids stand, but how their kids compare to their peers in the classroom, district, and maybe even students statewide. It would be interesting to see if making student-level data more accessible and digestible will result in a higher level of parental empowerment and engagement.

Early childhood education and…Occupy Wall Street?

In today’s New York Times, Nick Kristof writes that if protesters really want to address inequality, they should forget Wall Streeters and push for broader access to early childhood education. As a presenter for the opening day of Leadership SouthCoast yesterday, I spent some time discussing the role of pre-k programming in addressing things like vocabulary acquisition, third grade literacy, and eventually, the dropout rate. Kristof cites a few interesting studies here and makes a great connection to a most timely subject matter.

Two new job opportunities

Good news for job seekers looking for public service jobs in the SouthCoast: just this week, both the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and The Trustees of Reservations have posted some exciting opportunities to address youth and environmental issues, respectively.

The WIB is searching for a new Youth Council Manager, the position held by now-South Coast Rail project manager Jean Fox. This is a full-time position that addresses youth workforce development in the region; applicants should hold at least a Bachelor’s degree and have experience working in youth services and writing grant proposals. It looks like their website isn’t updated with more information, but their Facebook page has more.

Another newly posted job is with the Southeast Region of The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR). They’re seeking a full-time community engagement manager who will be charged with broadening public awareness of and involvement in TTOR’s efforts across the South Coast, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Cape Cod. Learn more by clicking here.

Fall River, New Bedford to partner with BCC to address dropout

Starting next calendar year, Fall River and New Bedford school districts will begin a program in partnership with Bristol Community College to address high school dropout through dual enrollment. The premise for both programs is that recent and likely dropouts will enroll and begin earning both high school and college credits, increasing the likelihood of earning both a high school diploma and a college degree. Such programs are already prevalent in urban school districts throughout the country and closer to home (for example, Springfield’s dropouts participate in a program at Holyoke Community College, while Massasoit Community College engages students from Brockton and Boston).

But does this approach work? The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation thinks so, a 2008 study shows that 89 percent of early college graduates pursued higher education the following fall (compared to 66 percent of their peers across the country), and North Carolina’s programs are achieving unprecedented success.

Based on those findings, a well-implemented, sustainable early college program could give a boost to the graduation rates of these districts (an improving 66.2 percent in Fall River and a declining 53.5 percent in New Bedford). Here’s hoping for a rigorous, ongoing program evaluation that will ensure this program’s ability to have an impact that is so greatly needed.

Community revitalization efforts inspired by Peanuts!

How would a statue of Mr. Peanut, of the snack nut brand Planters (you know, the nut with a top hat and monocle), look in the SouthCoast?  New York and New Orleans both agree it’s a fair trade off for the Planters sponsored green space that was unveiled in their communities.  Learn more here!