Romney endorses findings of Grogan Task Force on Education

February 4, 2004

Boston - Governor Mitt Romney today endorsed the findings from the Task Force on State Intervention in Underperforming Districts and announced he will take immediate action to implement their recommendations to ensure that the students of Massachusetts receive a quality education.

“I am committed to unlocking the potential of every child, no matter which school they attend,” Romney said.  “Our children cannot wait for slow, methodic changes.  They need our help now and this report will serve as a blueprint for immediate reform.”

Romney said the steps outlined by the task force are a much better alternative than state receivership.

The task force, chaired by Paul Grogan, the president of the Boston Foundation, focuses on solutions to help turn around both school districts that are labeled underperforming by the Board of Education as well as “low performing” as defined by new criteria.

Statewide, the report calls for removing administrators from the teachers union, a common sense proposal that eliminates an obvious conflict of interest.

Under legislation that will be filed today, a school is deemed “low performing” when its student performance on the MCAS exam fails to meet minimum standards for two consecutive years.

For those schools, the report calls for giving management the authority to dismiss teachers for “good cause” rather than “just cause,” making it easier to get rid of bad teachers.  In districts that have been declared underperforming, these new powers could be applied to any school with the approval of the Board of Education.

In addition, the report gives superintendents the authority to convert “low performing” schools into pilot or charter schools, giving them maximum flexibility to make needed changes.

The task force report recommends a comprehensive turnaround strategy for underperforming districts, starting with:

Establishing leadership evaluation teams appointed by the Education Commissioner and comprised of a teacher, administrator, private sector executive, instructional expert and community representative;
Determining the willingness of district leadership to participate effectively in a partnership with the state and act swiftly to make changes;
Engaging a turnaround partner if the evaluation team determines the district leadership does not have the capacity to make necessary reforms; and
Ensuring community involvement occurs at every stage of the process.
“These recommendations underscore our belief that a new state and local partnership can turn underperforming districts around, rendering state takeover unnecessary,” Grogan said.

“These recommendations set a strong foundation for the critical work we have ahead of us,” said Education Commissioner David Driscoll. “They properly represent the sense of urgency out there that steps be taken quickly to improve the districts already declared underperforming.”

The report complements the Governor’s Legacy of Learning program, which directs more money to the state’s most challenged schools, encourages parents to get more involved and provides critical funding for state intervention in struggling school districts.

To date, Holyoke and Winchendon are the only two districts that have been declared underperforming by the Board of Education.   Currently, 208 schools in 45 districts meet the “low performing” criteria.

To download a copy of the recommendations of the Task Force on State Intervention in Underperforming Districts, click on the cover above or please visit