Education Subcommittee Minutes JUNE 2017

Local News:

·         Muddy Brook Elementary School has asked for book suggestions that would help students become better citizens. These books should be suitable for students in preschool through grade 4 and include both fiction and nonfiction genres. Suggestions?

·         BHRSD is sponsoring three service learning programs through its Project Exploration Summer Camp

·         Berkshire Task Force is recommending consideration of consolidating services in the county at the high school level in order to ensure quality

State Level:

·         The Social Studies Standards are currently being revised by DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education). This initiative is in its second year of revision and will include requirements for students to study Civics and participate in activities that promote Civic Engagement

·         There are currently seventeen bills in the education committee regarding civics education in schools: Many of them appear to overlap. Some are quite general, while others are more specific. The first one seems comprehensive.

You can find the text of the bills and follow their progress by looking them up on All of these bills will have a hearing on June 13th at 10AM in Room A1 of the State House. Representative Pignatelli, as a member of the committee, plans to listen to testimony on the bills at that time. Citizens can provide testimony to the committee by writing to the chairs of the committee, information here:

·         Gena Frank, Office of Representative Smitty Pignatelli, 4th Berkshire District, 617-722-2575

National Level:

·         According to insiders, HR610 may not be discussed this session, However, please stay tuned should further action be necessary

·         Education Betsy DeVos (and her ideas) are meeting more resistance than acceptance

·          Discuss options and actions that should be taken with regard to the federal budget with our representatives in Congress

Action on any level:

·         Compose paragraphs of praise or comments using 2 by 3 inch label templates for efficiency in post card mailing. Follow the link for inexpensive labels. 

·         Support equity in education preschool through college, including supporting and participating inprojects sponsored by Multicultural Bridge, insuring promises made to students and their families are kept, before and after school programs are maintained, students promised loan forgiveness get this benefit, and charter schools are held as accountable as our public schools.

Education Subcommittee MINUTES - 4/3/17

·         The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is committed to getting more Civics in the classroom by revamping the Social Studies Curriculum K- 12. Details below.

·         Our Education subcommittee is also committed to trying to block passage of law HR 610 aka Choices in Education Act. It was filed on 1/23/17 by Representative King and is now sitting in the Education and Workforce Committee. HR 610 seeks to increase vouchers to allow parents to choose homeschooling, and private schools in addition to public school options. It would change the funding mechanism that has been in place since 1965. It would also repeal a rule that provides for specific certain nutrition standards in school breakfasts and lunches.

Ø  Actions: Call or send postcards to the members of the Education and Workforce Committee (see table)

Ø  Suggested talking points:

Ø  this law would hurt rural schools

Ø  an increase in charter schools drains the public schools, Charter schools don't accept all students

Ø  vouchers benefit those that have the financial means to go elsewhere but not students of less means

Ø  How will "for profit" charters be monitored to ensure that students are making effective progress?

Ø  What are the education voucher requirements? How can a bill be put into law without knowing these specifics?

Ø  How will the government monitor student progress for home schooling students and students who attend private schools?

Ø  Isn't this law a violation of the ESSA regulations currently in place?

Ø  For many children, breakfast and lunch at school account for most of their diet. The fresher the food, the better.

Ø  Research has shown that sodium, saturated fat and trans-fat is terrible for your health. Why would we knowingly create a health risk that will incur more expensive health care needs

Address of the US House of Representatives: (Individual room numbers should also be listed).

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Education Committee Among our goals, is to work with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and our local schools to bring Civics classes back to the curriculum including an understanding of how local, state, and the federal government work. We have met with one superintendent and the head of a the history department, and will continue to monitor the situation. We have also been in contact with the The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Members of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Panel 


So far, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is just what her critics feared | WASHINGTON POST | February 22

How Senators Voted on Betsy DeVos | NEW YORK TIMES | February 7th