Providing Education from Birth to Career

    Juliette believes that the most important task of the next Governor is preparing Massachusetts for the challenges and opportunities of the future. There is no better way to ensure that residents of the Commonwealth can continue to advance in the years and decades to come than to provide every child in Massachusetts with the best education possible. This education system must not only prepare children for college, but needs to push further towards educating them for a career. With over 100,000 available jobs and over 240,000 unemployed residents, it is clear that our workforce is not prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow. 

    Ensuring that every child has access to high quality education opportunities and is prepared to contribute in a thriving democratic society depends upon: 

    • Better aligning learning objectives, promoting innovative instructional and school management practice and promoting ambitious school quality standards from Pre-K through post-secondary education; 
    • Creating partnerships between school systems, higher education, business and civic institutions that move education beyond school walls to create “anywhere, anytime” learning and developmental opportunities for Massachusetts students; and, perhaps most importantly 
    • Closing the Opportunity Gap – the differential in the life chances between the state’s most and least affluent families.  We do this by ensuring that all families make living wages and have access to the supports that they need to thrive.  When Massachusetts families can overcome the real and opportunity costs associated with participating in their children’s education, they participate with great passion and children achieve. 

    Following are Juliette’s detailed ideas for further revolutionizing education and ensuring that Massachusetts remains a model of educational success and opportunity for the nation.   

    The Kayyem Plan: Providing Every Child in Massachusetts with the Best Education Possible

    Provide Quality Pre-Kindergarten for Every Child in Massachusetts

    • Through an increase in the Massachusetts Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program and coordination of center-based and family-based early child development programs ensure every child has access to quality pre-kindergarten, which would eliminate the waitlist of 43,000 children across the Commonwealth.
    • Increase investments in early education – which is proven to help close the achievement gap and reduce the need for spending on other services in the future.

    Bring innovation and a deeper commitment to nurturing home-grown talent to Massachusetts colleges and universities in order to increase college completion rates

    Invest in Massachusetts’ world-class colleges and universities to make post-secondary education accessible, affordable and flexible.  Investments would be made in:

    • Adapting community colleges to the quickly changing job market by expanding online teaching capabilities and developing more worker-training agreements with in-state businesses. 
    • Creating programs of varying length to provide students the flexibility to enter the workforce, while continuing education, as well as options jointly certified by colleges and employers.
    • Mentoring between faculty and students to help ensure accountability and strengthen ties to education.
    • Providing support and guidance for students most at risk for dropping out—such as commuter students and minority students.
    • Increasing need-based scholarships for promising Massachusetts students. 

    Redesign high school to teach students the content and skills needed in college and employer settings and better prepare them for productive independence and leadership 

    Collaborate with local school systems, colleges and universities, business and unions to create a pathway from high school, to two and four year schools, to careers by:

    • Redesigning high school curricula to build on common core standards and emphasize concepts and lessons that are important for college and workplace success.  Curricular redesign will go a long way toward better aligning high school, vocational training, GED and alternative education content and skill standards with post-secondary and career demands.
    • Instituting statewide skill standards.  In the same way that Massachusetts has led the way in establishing rigorous academic standards, we will also institute a set of complimentary 21st century skill standards to equip our children for productive citizenship in their communities and future workplaces.  While such standards would span the pipeline, skill building would be deeply emphasized during the high school years.
    • Designing a system of campus-style learning where cities and towns become an extended classroom for high school students.  This can be done by creating and coordinating community- and work-based programs that award credit toward graduation. 
    • Creating a work-based learning requirement for graduation, particularly in the knowledge dependent sectors of healthcare, finance, technology, education and the life sciences.  Most students earning a higher degree go to school and work simultaneously, so it is essential that students coming out of high school be prepared to enter the workforce.
    • Providing more Advanced Placement options and encouraging increased enrollment in college-prep and college classes to allow all students opportunities for in-depth and accelerated learning as it meets their needs and interests.
    • Developing more meaningful and marketable GED/Alternative Education pathways.  In the same way that high school needs to be redesigned, we need business, unions and higher education partners to help rethink what is taught in alternative and bridge programs.  Stronger alternative certifications will help to reduce remediation rates and student debt and increase post-secondary completion.

    Close the Opportunity and Achievement Gap

    • Develop statewide guidelines for local school choice systems and school governance practices to increase equitable access to quality schools and ensure equitable participation by all parents in matters pertaining to their children’s education.
    • Support the development of robust summer learning opportunities to stem learning loss and offer families and students a broader spectrum of learning and developmental opportunities than might be accessed during the school year.
    • Focus on and improve student attendance by meeting children where they are to incorporate all child and family support systems to immediately and efficiently address truancy problems.
    • Offer more support to low-income parents so they can better navigate the services (including government and non-profit) available to them and their children to improve school performance. 
    • Increase and expand the Innovation Schools program.
    • Increase support and provide tailored help for students scoring in warning/failing and needs improvement on the mathematics, English language arts and science/technology and engineering MCAS.
    • Expand on the existing Massachusetts Model for Comprehensive School Counseling Programs, which drives a proactive, collaborative, and comprehensive approach to raising student achievement and enhancing career development for all students.
    • Create mandates for shared accountability across school types to promote local education systems that are unified and seamless

    How Juliette Sees It: Providing Every Child in Massachusetts with the Best Education Possible

    Provide Universal Pre-Kindergarten and Full-Day Kindergarten for Every Child in Massachusetts

    As a working mother herself and whose children had access to great pre-kindergarten services before entering public schools, Juliette recognizes that some of the biggest hurdles facing families in Massachusetts - income inequality, work/family balance, and an unequal education system – can be addressed by establishing universal high-quality preschool.  Juliette believes that investing in our children at the earliest stage pays huge dividends, both for the children themselves and the community as a whole. Research has demonstrated that early education programs are essential for establishing a strong learning foundation and sets the stage for achievement throughout life.  Children without access to quality pre-kindergarten are coming into kindergarten already two steps behind. In Massachusetts, three-quarters of children who struggle with reading in 3rd grade will continue to struggle academically throughout their educational careers, greatly reducing their chances of graduating from high school, going to college or successfully participating in a 21st century high skill economy.  Quality preschool is essential to ensure school readiness, can significantly improve a child’s reading level, and increases the likelihood of a child graduating from high school. 

    Moreover, expanding early education access in Massachusetts is critical to closing the achievement gap. Low-income children who participate in high-quality early education are 40 percent less likely to be held back a grade or need special education, 30 percent more likely to graduate from high school, and twice as likely to go to college. A University of Georgia study found that an expanded pre-K system eliminated the skills gap between universal pre-K students and the more affluent students whose parents sent them to private programs.  Researchers in New Jersey found that one year of preschool is associated with increases in achievement equivalent to roughly 10 percent to 20 percent of the achievement gap between students of color and white students, and corresponds to an increase from the 50th percentile to the 58th percentile in language skills. 

    The demand for these kinds of universal pre-kindergarten programs is clear. As of September 2013, 43,000 children were on waitlists for subsidized state early education programs. To eliminate this waitlist and ensure every child has access to a high-quality prekindergarten seat we must increase funding for subsidized early education programs and coordinate center-based and family-based early child development programs to expand the number of quality pre-kindergarten seats available. Juliette will work with the Legislature to increase funding and engage the non-profit, business, and philanthropic community to increase resources to ensure high-quality seats can expand.  

    But, a sole focus on pre-kindergarten is not enough. Massachusetts has long been a leader in education and expanding on that leadership is a key component to ensuring both the economic stability of our neighbors and our communities. We need to prepare our citizens for future career success to ensure that businesses keep bringing high-paying jobs to Massachusetts.

    Bring innovation and a deeper commitment to nurturing home-grown talent to Massachusetts colleges and universities in order to increase college completion rates

    In order for Massachusetts to compete in the economy of the future, it is essential that our students attend and graduate from college. By 2020, businesses in the Commonwealth will need 50,000 more college graduates than the Commonwealth is currently generating.  In order to close this shortfall, 60 percent of 25-34 year olds would need to hold a college degree.  Since nine out of ten graduates from in-state higher education institutions stay in Massachusetts, increasing the number of Massachusetts students going to college should generate the talented, educated workforce Massachusetts businesses need in the 21st century. This increase can only come if we are willing to capitalize on the wealth and prestige of our colleges and universities, by adapting to evolving student needs. Currently, only 25 percent of all college students attend full-time, four-year institutions -- most students are going to school part time and working in order to pay for their education. 

    Juliette will capitalize on Massachusetts wealth of higher education institutions to create learning experiences that meet the needs of students. First, job markets quickly shift and our community colleges need to be prepared to offer continual education by expanding online courses and developing worker training agreements with in-state businesses. Second, students need the ability to balance entering the workforce with continuing their education. To provide this, programs must be set up that vary in length, from traditional four year to twelve month. Third, dropout rates need to be addressed so more students who enter higher institutions graduate. To stem this tide, we must invest in pathways to success for disconnected youth.  That is, we need to create first-of-their-kind systems that feature credit recovery options, strong high school equivalency credentials, robust bridge programs and the guidance and mentorship supports in college that ensure that students will persist through to college graduation. 

    Through these investments in higher education Juliette will capitalize on Massachusetts greatest strength, its residents. She will provide educational opportunities for residents so they can drive a stronger economy.       

    Redesign high school to teach students the content and skills needed in college and employer settings and better prepare them for productive independence and leadership

    Massachusetts’ schools have the responsibility to prepare students to graduate from high school, succeed in college and build successful careers.  Juliette believes that it is critical for every child to be prepared for college and to embark on the careers of their choice. . Today, 40 percent of Massachusetts’ high school graduates have to take remedial classes upon entering college. This lack of preparation forces students to spend extra resources on remedial classes and extends the length of time it takes to earn a degree and get prepared for a quality job. Further, there are over 100,000 vacant jobs, and over 240,000 people looking for work. Unfortunately, many looking for work simply are not trained for the jobs available.

    The education system needs to better meet 21st century job market demands.  Juliette will collaborate with colleges and universities, businesses and unions to create pathways from high school, to two and four year schools, to careers that position students to meaningfully contribute and lead across Massachusetts communities and across sectors of the economy. 

    First, all students must be equipped to graduate high school without requiring remedial instruction. This means revolutionizing the design of high school to make the experience college and career relevant, strengthening GED programs and increasing alternative learning options.

    Second, students must not only engage in academic curricula, but must develop the professional skills that make them valued heads of households, community members and workers. To do this there need to be skill standards that encourage students to acquire the attributes that help them make practical use of what they learn in classrooms. This preparation must be the responsibility of entire communities, extending learning through the creation of community- and work-based programs that award credit towards graduation. 

    Third, linking state higher education institutions with K-12 education will provide increased Advanced Placement options and encourage enrollment in college classes to reduce the number of students taking remedial college courses. Juliette believes that we must align high school preparation, and colleges’ expectations of student performance with skill demand in Massachusetts industries.  There is ample opportunity to do this by working with knowledge dependent sectors like healthcare, finance, technology, education and the life sciences.

    Finally, as unions, business and higher education institutions engage in reshaping the learning experience of high schools, they must also engage in redeveloping GED and alternative education pathways. Providing stronger alternatives will reduce student debt through a reduction of the remediation rate and increase post-secondary completion. 

    Closing the Opportunity and Achievement Gap

    While Massachusetts is a leader in education, the Commonwealth has one of the largest achievement gaps in the country BECAUSE it has a growing opportunity gap. With 32 percent of our children living in low-income households, we must take special care to ensure that all children have the tools they need to succeed. Recent MCAS scores reveal that the Commonwealth has significant work to do for low-income and minority children.  Sixty-five percent of children in low-income families are behind in reading by third grade and less than a quarter are proficient in science by eighth grade.  Students that struggle with reading at a young age are four times less likely to graduate high school on time which hurts their prospects in an economy increasingly requiring a college degree. 

    Juliette is committed to closing this gap and believes that a multi-pronged approach is the best way to move forward. While the education system is a key component of closing the opportunity and achievement gap, we must also ensure families have the ability to participate in a students learning. Families without this ability more often than not have children in underperforming schools, rely on transportation that is second rate, live in communities where un- and under-employment are rampant, and find it hard to get healthy food regularly. These and other issues related to opportunity must be addressed in conjunction with education reform to fully close the achievement gap. Juliette’s education plan will work in conjunction with her economic development, transportation and other plans to address the compounding issues that disadvantage too many families. 

    Working with the education reform tool box, a Kayyem administration will employ several strategies to afford all students greater opportunities to learn and to help parents more fully participate in their children’s schooling. First, opportunities begin with choice and equitable access to quality schools.  Massachusetts features some of the best elementary and secondary schools in the country.  It also features some notorious school quality deserts where, to the surprise of few, many of the state’s most disadvantaged families live.  If we are going to close the opportunity gap for these families, it begins by giving them the same choices that those in more affluent communities have.  While we cannot always guarantee access to the best schools in Massachusetts, we can do a much better job of making sure that the families who need the best educational options can compete for and access them more consistently.

    Second, we have to level the playing field on parent participation.  Participation is often a function of flexible time and, more indirectly, income and wealth.  Some families can more easily afford to actively participate in their children’s educational careers than others.  In Massachusetts, we need all families contributing at the school level if we are going to spur reform and innovation that is responsive to students’ needs and interests.  This means creating guidelines for school governance, creating structural and process roadmaps that make it convenient for maximal participation and that call for parents to weigh in on issues that matter, like school schedules, budgeting and instructional strategies.

    By providing more choice and parent participation we will be able to increase programs that work, while decreasing impediments to learning experiences. First, attendance patterns between high and low performing students are significantly different.  Studies have proven that a comprehensive focus on improving attendance markedly increases student achievement.  Second, non-school factors have a significant impact on school performance.  Therefore, we must provide support not only to struggling students, but also to the entire family by offering counseling services for navigating government and non-profit programs. These programs must also be tailored to fit the needs of families and be held accountable to spur improvement among students performing poorly.  Third, implementing universal pre-kindergarten is critical to ensuring that students from low-income families do not begin their formal schooling at a disadvantage. Fourth, expand opportunities at school by extending and expanding learning, through varied school schedules and partnering with outside organizations. Identifying problems early and crafting a tailored pathway for each student is essential for improving career and college preparation. Low-income students are more likely to attend a college if they receive substantial support and mentoring throughout high school. Finally, it is critical that we have and express the same expectations for all our students, regardless of their background or socioeconomic circumstances.  Studies demonstrate that poor and minority students will achieve at the same high levels as other students if they are taught to those levels. Low standards, unambitious curricula, and under-educated teachers have been shown to lead to poor results. We must break this cycle.

    Juliette believes any investment must also be followed by well-informed accountability.  As Governor, Juliette will create a system that evaluates both general trends and the performance of the most vulnerable students to ensure that we are closing the opportunity and achievement gap. This approach will allow for tailored tactics, like targeted intervention for schools that might be high-achieving overall, but could better serve their low-income and minority students.

    To provide targeted approaches Juliette will build on the Innovation School program created by Governor Deval Patrick in 2010These Innovation Schools implement new strategies to improve student achievement while keeping school funding within districts, including providing more flexibility to teachers. Juliette supports these efforts and would seek to expand the program beyond the 47 schools that currently participate. While expanding this program Juliette would create mandates for shared accountability across school types to promote local education systems that are unified and seamless. 

    Click here to download as a PDF