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Minnesotan picked as next Boston school superintendent

BPS Superintendent Interviews: BPS Parents and Leaders, Dr. Brenda Cassellius

Brenda Cassellius

The Boston School Committee tonight picked Brenda Cassellius, former commissioner of education for the state of Minnesota as the city's new school superintendent, in a 5-2 vote. Now the committee and Cassellius will try to work out a contract that will bring her to Boston permanently.

If she comes, Cassellius would take over from interim Superintendent Laura Perille, who took herself out of the running for the permanent job to replace ousted Superintendent Tommy Chang.

In a statement, School Superintendent Michael LoConto said:

We are excited to begin working soon with Dr. Cassellius, whose wealth of experience, commitment to equity, and proven track record as an education leader will be critical in continuing our progress in the Boston Public Schools.

Quality Education for Every Student, a group of BPS parents, expressed cautious optimism about her selection.

We were concerned about the process leading to this decision but are cautiously optimistic about the choice of Dr. Cassellius. She was very clear about her thinking on issues such as high-stakes standardized testing, teacher diversity, district budgeting, exam school admissions and parent engagement. She offered a vision for education in Boston that many parents will be able to get behind.

If she takes the job, one of her first major tasks could be to negotiate a new contract with the Boston Teachers Union, whose president, Jessica Tang, said in a statement:

We applaud her commitment to equity and appreciate her first-hand experience at all levels of education. The BTU welcomes her and looks forward to a long, collaborative relationship with Dr. Cassellius. To start, we hope to resolve our long-standing need for a new contract that helps ensure the schools our students deserve. We are eager to work with Dr. Cassellius to reach an agreement that includes proper staffing for special education inclusion programs for students in every Boston Public School, to provide for a full-time nurse and licensed counselor in every school, and to address student homelessness through initiatives including Hub Community Schools.

Cassellius began her educational career as a paraprofessional working with special-needs students in 1990:

She later became a social studies teacher, diversity coordinator, and assistant principal of schools in Minnesota before becoming an academic superintendent for the Memphis City Schools in Tennessee. From 2007-2010, she served as an associate superintendent for the Minneapolis Public Schools in Minnesota, and was superintendent of the East Metro Integration District in Maplewood, Minnesota, from 2010-2011 before becoming the state’s education commissioner.

Cassellius's bio.

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Comments

Finally someone moving here because it is a WARMER climate.

/wait what? WHAT?!

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1. our buidlings and their heating systems are not able to keep up with 0F weather
2. our idea of plowing and clearing sidewalks means that snow days need to be called more freqently
3. What a hurricane is.

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Shall a Stenographic Record of Public Meetings of Boston School Committee be made available online for hard of hearing folks, for all folks? Better more up to date technology/software at Public Meetings of Boston School Committee please!

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Now let’s pool education money across every town inside 128 the way they do it in greater MSP.

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Help yourself to all their stuff too.

Can I have your TV?

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If you’re still watching a TV with feet and bunny ears from 30 years ago because you can’t afford a new one, yes I’d be happy to give you a dollar or two towards the purchase of a modern flat screen. That’s what we’re talking about here. Boston kids are in outdated schools because the city stopped investing once richer people fled to suburbia and those towns got the money to invest.
Do you believe a kid in Boston deserves less education than a kid in Wellesley; only because the Boston parents are working for companies the Wellesley parents are profiting from?
We’re talking about fractions of pennies across many communities. It would stabilize communities where schools are a constant source of upheaval, and lower priced areas become more attractive to young families. Workforce stability is a net positive for the corporate masters in the wealthy towns.

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That doesn't matter to the Libertarian brain...

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If we pooled our money with neighboring towns BPS would have to reduce per pupil spending by 10-25%. We already spend more than everyone else except for Cambridge and a handful of other towns inside 495.

Boston in district is approaching 21k per pupil (and that was in 2017 - so now probably close to $22k). Wellesley is about 18.5k.

http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/statereport/ppx.aspx

I believe only Weston, Lincoln and Cambridge spend more than Boston inside 495 (excluding a couple vocational schools etc.)

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I’d love to know what business you’re in where straight dollar amounts can be compared across vastly different sets of conditions. Yes, BPS has a high per student cost, you don’t miss a thread about BPS noting it.
Do you consider reasons why? Decades of neglect left buildings costly to maintain and heat. Wealthy towns update and rebuild routinely. BPS buses kids all over a congested city at a tremendous cost. Getting buses around is pretty simple in regular towns. BPS has extremely high rates of English learners, behavioral issues, and countless factors making their student cohort more costly to educate than that of a suburb. Add in that a chunk of the students without any extra needs get peeled off by charters exacerbating the need per student rates. This could go on and I don’t know half of what people in the system do.
But I can tell you that if I quoted the cost per unit comparison of two things as different as educating kids in Boston and Wellesley my boss would send me packing and go ask somebody how I got hired in the first place.

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That you ignore your own post? you were the one wanted to get everyone to pool money for BPS. If we did that, BPS would be a GIVER, not a TAKER if say everyone got the average - for Boston to get "more" almost every other community would have to get less - not just the high end towns, but middle class towns like Dedham, Revere and Weymouth as well.

Wealthy towns update and build because they are well managed. BPS continues to bus kids all over creation (even if it made sense in the 70s, it doesn't now). They still have 125 schools for 20% fewer students and have hired hundreds of non-teaching staff just because they had money burning a hole in their budget.

As for high rates of English learners, behavioral issues, and other factors - keep in mind that most other communities do exactly that for a fraction of the cost of BPS - and contrary to popular opinion, those services are more expensive, but only slightly, than other services - BPS numbers put it at about 5-10% premium as I recall.

I don't know what half the people in the system do

Given the headcount numbers and trends in BPS, apparently BPS doesn't know either. If there's $50k in the budget they find a job. Then at the end of the year they claim poverty, get another 50 million give everybody a raise, bump up their pensions, maintain incredibly expensive insurance far better than what you and I probably have and hire another 75 people.

Oh - and one final thing - what you are apparently COMPLETELY unaware of is that there is and entirely separate budget that "grosses" up poor communities to provide many of these services. Combination of federal state and private money. It's about another 10% of Boston's budget. Wealthier communities only get a fraction of that. In fact, Boston's share of state money has actually been getting cut - in part because we are so damned rich, the state has diverted it to much poorer communities (Lynn, Fall River, Springfield, New Bedford and others) are far more needy than we are.

Do some homework (or at least pay attention to what I write since you've obviously seen it).

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By “pool” money, a term I picked out of the air, I was not suggesting every town gets the same per student. Which is what I now realize you latched on to and I get your concept that in a zero sum game where there is no adjustment for need, BPS wouldnhet less. That would serve no purpose.
Simplify, wealthy suburbs with money to burn on education. City struggling to fund education. City is the catalyst for the region. We try hard to think of important issues like transit and energy, housing regionally, so why does it make sense to go run and hide behind town lines on education?

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Not that I 100% disagree with that. When I taught in Japan, the prefecture (state) ran the local public school system with some curriculum and other issues regulated nationally through the Ministry of Education (Monbusho).

The problem is even if you pooled the money at the state level it's highly unlikely BPS is going to get more than what they spend now. As noted above, the state is actually cutting Boston's aid because we are too damned rich. There IS actually pooled money, but it doesn't come in through the operating budget - the number everyone looks at. It comes through the external funds budget (for Boston, that's about $140 million - or another 12% or so - bringing expenditures per student up to about $25k)

BPS is one of the wealthiest districts in the state and the country. It's not that there isn't enough money.. BPS is swimming in money. They just don't spend it wisely. And there's no way other towns vote to subsidize the waste that goes on here, especially if it means they have to cut budgets on their own students.

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we will be interviewing more candidates for the Superintendent position in a year of two.

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The vote to make Dr. Cassellius superintendent was 6-0 with one abstention (Dr. Rodriguez). The 5-2 was the vote during the initial discussion by School Committee before the motion was made. The room where the meeting was held was very loud with all of the cheering and celebrating, which is probably why this is being reported incorrectly. I was watching at home so I could hear it clearly.

Apologies if this is nit-picky, but I think it's important to have the facts correct.

I loved Dr. Cassellius' vision during her interview and am excited to have her lead BPS!!!

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Thanks, and that yeesh is not meant towards you.

BPS initially sent out a press release saying the School Committee had approved her unanimously. They followed that up about 30 minutes later with a correction that the vote was 5-2.

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I see a lot 'of odd phrases...."commitment to equity"...."teacher diversity"...."diversity coordinator" How about hire the most qualified person to do the actual job and not get bogged down in SJW nonsense.

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Diversity is part of what makes a good teaching staff, especially in a system as diverse as BPS.

It may be hard for you to believe, but there are qualified minority teachers. In the past, maybe not enough efforts were made to hire them (just like not enough efforts were made to reach qualified minority kids who might actually be able to get into the exam schools). I think that's all she's saying.

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that she was the most qualified candidate. The fact that she is a person of color, committed to diversity and equity, and the top choice for an overwhelming majority of stakeholders across a lot of sectors is really just making her selection that much more important. This is a huge win for the City of Boston.

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Should she be trying to promote inequity instead? In what world does wanting fair treatment for all students, faculty, etc amount to nonsense of any kind?

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Maybe Bugs here was hoping for a heaping serving of privilege to tide his kids into Latin?

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We shall see,.

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And you were expecting?

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It's a thankless job and I'm glad that quality people still seek it out.

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Will PTA meetings now come with mini sodas?

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Pop.

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But I am shocked she was actually chosen. The reformers and the business folks wanted Izquierdo and they usually hold sway with the Mayor who ultimately makes the decision about these things. It seems that this time the Mayor actually paid attention to what students, families, teachers and voters wanted, which is how democracy is supposed to work. In fact, I'm so shocked that she was chosen it makes me a little bit suspicious that she will actually be the person she said she would be in interviews. I feel like it's too good to be true and something else must be going on here. Or maybe, just maybe, this one time, the best choice for students was made because it in fact was the best choice for students.

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Meet your new captain.

But one can hope...

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You either take the approach that you help the Good Students with more STEM, AP classes and the like, or you help the Bad Students with more counseling, supports in the classroom, fewer suspensions, etc.

The teachers want to focus on the Good Students and they pretty much want the Bad Students to go away because the teachers have to slow down the curriculum for them, plus they cause problems and generally suck. The teachers want the Bad Students kicked out or locked in an alternative classroom.

The administrators and counselors focus on the Bad Students because that is how their performance is graded - higher graduation rates, higher test scores, and no dumping Bad Students into alternative schools.

This new superintendent is not talking about the need for harder classes, more homework, or text books with fewer pictures so we can be fairly confident where this is going. So if you are a Good Student, better get into an exam school.

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Most teachers care about all their students and would never use phrases like good and bad students. And it's not an either/or. schools can and should do better for all students, The city has the resources, the best practices, and the will, they just need some strong leaders to make it happen. Look at what the BTU is asking for in their new contract- it's something for everyone and will help everyone.

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I am a teacher and I find this comment patently absurd. Yes, there are students that will do any and all the work we throw at them. Yes, there are also students that sometimes struggle to engage in the work, which can be due to low skills, social-motional challenges, learning disabilities, or trauma, or a potent combination of all of these things. I think what most teachers want, or at least what I want, is for the system to equip teachers and schools with the appropriate resources and systems to help ALL of our students. We can have more rigorous classes AND more counseling resources, support services, etc. I have been teaching in a high needs BPS school for 7 years, and the lack of counseling services in a school where most of our students need serious and sustained support is disgusting. There are some amazing, hard-working people trying to do this, but not nearly enough of them. The idea that the district is going to have to choose which students it helps is ridiculous, and I find some of the comments that you made to be nothing more than racist dog-whistling.

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It sounds like you are a proponent of keeping the Bad Students in the same classroom and giving them accommodations, counseling, reward systems, and IEPs. That can work but you surpass 2 or 3 kids like that and it slows the curriculum down. And this is just academics. One poorly behaved kid can significantly screw up the classroom dynamic and slow down everything, tearing apart the classroom causing an evacuation as the administrators stand around with walkie talkies trying to bribe the kid to stop. Maybe you can overcome all that but most BPS teachers cannot. It would be easier to purge all of the Bad Students but the trend is going the other way - “We must educate them.”

I suspect you already know all this but I just love internet posting so much I sometimes can’t help myself.

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Maybe you should try helping yourself.

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Next year BPS report cards will replace grades with:

Not too bad
Whatever
Not so good

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By next year, all our children will be above average.

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What a POS Keillor turned out to be. Too bad his gross behavior was hidden for so long.

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I just love reading the line in the story that says she will try to work out a contract that will bring her to Boston permanently. Who's kidding who? There is no such thing as a permanent School Superintendent in Boston. How many Supt.'s has Boston seen in the last 30 years. Make sure you bring one of your winter coats from Minnesota with you when you see how cold Boston politics can be.
Good Luck!

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Used to say. If they ain’t from dot they ain’t worth snot. In this case I disagree. Good luck Minne-so-tan.

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Was surprised to see Superintendent Chalmers absent in this race. He has done a lot for the city of Springfield

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Wonder who'll be sorry first, BPS, Dr. Cassellius, or the mayor.

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