Public school priorities

From our local education officials, who previously decided to build the most expensive (per student) school ever constructed in the United States ($250,000 per town-resident student, about $110 million for 440 K-8 students).

The May 20 Lincoln (PreK-8) School Committee meeting will focus on strategic priorities for the present school year. The highest priority for the District, aside from keeping our schools open during the pandemic, was professional learning on anti-racism across the district. At next Thursday evening’s School Committee meeting, members of the Lincoln Public Schools Anti-racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group (LAAG) will present their findings from surveys, focus groups, and an “equity audit.” LAAG includes 22 students, faculty, administrators, community representatives, and School Committee members. Their report outlines recommendations to be included in a multi-year District action plan. Please save the date.

(If anti-racism is priority #2, how far down the list is quality of education? We may never know! One thing that we do know is that quality of education for gifted students was not even on the list in Maskachusetts, going back to before coronaplague. See “Is Massachusetts failing its brightest kids?” (January 2020): Nearly every other state has a definition of giftedness, and 32 states require districts to identify and/or serve gifted students, according to the state report. In contrast, Massachusetts eliminated its specialized licensing of teachers for advanced learners because of the lack of instructors seeking the certification. Just 69 of the state’s 1,872 schools reported having a talented and gifted program in a 2015-16 survey conducted by the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. In the most recent survey of state policies and practices for gifted students, conducted in 2014-15 by two national organizations focused on gifted education, Massachusetts was one of nine states that didn’t even respond to the survey.)

The school’s email system adds the following signature, in red font, to every email from a 6th grade teacher:

Lincoln Public Schools are united in standing with those who are calling out ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country and calling for acknowledgement of humanity in one another. This is not just an issue for black and brown people, but an issue that impacts all of our futures. We must:

  • Listen to each other, showing compassion and empathy
  • Never turn our backs on senseless brutality
  • Continue to denounce injustices
  • Unify our voices to create systemic change

During this painful time, let us work together to be a light to break the darkness that silence can bring. Let us facilitate education, healing, connection, and let us support each other and our communities. Every one of us needs to be part of the solution and we must work together to ensure that there is justice for all.

My favorite part of the above is that the school stands with “those who are calling out ingrained racism”. They’re not standing with those who are doing something about ingrained racism. So they stand with a white person who puts a Black Lives Matter sign on his/her/zir/their lawn in an all-white 2-acre-minimum-zoned suburb. They don’t stand with a white person who moves to a town with Black and Brown neighbors (anyone in our town who wanted to do this would pocket $1 million, the difference in value between a house here and a house in a diverse community).

What are the priorities for schools in the town (Jupiter, Florida) where we’re moving in August? The school system is run by Palm Beach County:

The Gifted Education Program provides appropriate instruction for eligible students by delivering effective and innovative strategies beyond the basic curriculum. The program is designed to challenge and empower students to produce quality work and to become productive citizens while protecting and nurturing their unique characteristics.

The State of Florida defines a gifted student as “one who has superior intellectual development and is capable of high performance.” Schools have an obligation to identify and provide services for gifted students.

Palm Beach County School District currently universally screens second-grade students for gifted with the CogAT in 33 schools. … Students identified as being eligible to receive gifted services each have an Educational Plan (EP) that is developed to foster both their strengths and areas of need.

Should we abandon all hope that Floridians, despite the influx of the righteous from New York and Maskachusetts, will see the anti-racism light? No! “Palm Beach County school board’s new core principles call for equity, ‘dismantling racism’” (May 4, 2021):

Palm Beach County public schools are poised to adopt a new set of core principles this week declaring a heightened commitment to combating racism and ensuring equity for all students.

School board members have drafted new mission and vision statements and, for the first time, an “equity statement” underscoring the school district’s dedication to “dismantling racism and other systems of oppression and inequity.”

The move reflects the district’s effort to join the growing number of companies and government agencies publicly signaling their support for racial justice in the wake of the protests last year over the police killing of George Floyd.

Children of color make up the vast majority of students in the county’s public and charter schools. Of the 189,000 students, 36% are Hispanic, 29% are white, 28% are Black and 3% are Asian.

The centrality of George Floyd is interesting. He was killed by one government agency (the Minneapolis Police Department) and the solution is not for government agencies to have less power, smaller budgets, and a more focused mission, but rather for government agencies to have more power, bigger budgets, and a more complex and varied mission.

George Floyd is also central here. An email to the town mailing list from yesterday:

I’m a 5th grader at the Lincoln Public School.

I’d like to invite everyone to please join me in commemorating the death
of George Floyd one year after his death. *I’m coordinating students,
families and the community to come to Pierce Park and form a big heart
holding cards that we will be disseminating. The formation will be captured
via aerial photo, with the help of our Fire and Police Departments.

We will have a brief vigil with speakers – especially from the children of
Lincoln, and 9:30min of silence to reflect.

The event details are:
Layers of Love
Tuesday, May 25th
*Pierce Park *
4:30 – 5:30pm

Who will be brave enough to show up and read from “Sex Money & Drugs” off the Blockbleeders album by the rap group of which George Floyd was briefly a member?


  • “Surprise: Florida and Texas Excel in Math and Reading Scores” (New York Times, October 2015): Florida and Texas look worse than they deserve to because they’re educating a more disadvantaged group of students than most states are. … With the [demographic] adjustments, Texas jumps all the way to third in the 2013 state ranking, and Florida to fourth.

22 thoughts on “Public school priorities

  1. Moving to Jupiter Florida? Sounds like you are more worried about taxes, than global warming.

    • We will be renting. If rising seas wash away the building we will spare no expense to find the nicest sympathy card at CVS and send it to the landlord.

    • @Phil, will you be kind enough to save some of the heat during summer times in FL and send it to us who are left behind in MA to use during winter? We can return the favor back to you by sending you some of the cold air from the winter blazers of NE for your summer cooling. It would be a win-win for both our States and we will do our part to solve global warming.

    • I would, George, but we aren’t planning to be there during the summer! The school year is August 17-May 27. After that we can use what we’re saving on state income tax to fund a trip to Europe, a trip to Wisconsin for Oshkosh/EAA AirVenture, etc. Even the folks who say that they love Jupiter add that they try to get away during July and August.

      This is one of the good things about Florida for a family with school-age children. In Massachusetts we can’t travel September-June because the kids are in school. But the months when the kids are out of school are kind of the nice months to be in MA (at least the Cape and islands if it is too hot inland). So that’s the only time to get a return on one’s investment in a big house. But in FL, the months when the kids are out of school also happen to be the months that have the least nice weather (hot, humid, buggy).

    • And I don’t care that Toucan Sam doesn’t care about black lives matter! It’s the anti-domino effect and we’re all non-doomed.

    • I don’t care that Alex doesn’t care that I don’t care about Black Lives Matter!

  2. It might be instructive for your readers to reflect on a similar story with a different ending. From the Carroll independent school district in Southlake, TX, in the heartland of FEMA Region 6.

    Sadly (for the proponents of the racialist anti-racist doctrine), Southlake parents prevailed in the local elections held in early May. And that was despite that “elections in Southlake on Saturday were so divisive that backers of the new anti-racism measures called on the Department of Justice to intervene — and even pop star Demi Lovato ripped opponents of the plan.”

    And yes, Southlake’s CISD schools do offer a gifted and talented program…

  3. Is the move to Florida intended to be permanent?

    I’ve recently come into a fully remote position, am about as sick and tired of California’s continued striving for the gold medal in every category of social and economic degeneracy as one can possibly be, and have been considering an escape plan myself.

    • Brandon: We are not planning to return to Massachusetts. The Florida move is intended to be permanent and is partly for the benefit of a child who has some allergies and issues with colds/flu/breathing. He seems to do better when on vacation in Florida. We never imagined that a Florida move would be practical or desirable, but coronavirus and coronapanic changed a lot. For people who don’t want to get coronavirus, Florida is a vastly safer state than MA, with roughly one third the COVID-19 death rate adjusted for population over 65. And, of course, we don’t want to get COVID-19. For people who don’t want to live under a state of emergency and 68+ governor’s orders, Florida is also far superior to MA. Coronapanic made it possible for us to work from anywhere, thus making a move much simpler. Coronashutdowns also changed how people socialize. A lot of friends who used to be tough to get on the phone are now happy to chat on FaceTime or Zoom. They’re not busy with dinner parties, concerts, movies, etc. like they used to be.

    • Interesting that the child does better in Florida. Early on in my life I had to relocate from North Carolina (very similar climate as Florida) to a dryer climate because of my asthma and related allergies….which is why I live in California. I hope Florida’s humidity isn’t an issue. That said, Jupiter being a coastal town helps. I live on the coast and it has helped greatly. At least you won’t be dealing with the cold, which is a known allergy trigger.

  4. Massachusetts consistently has highest in the nation qualifier scores for Merit Scholarships finalists Not a huge fan of MA style of living but it is a fact. Is it coming from a group of special schools?
    Disclaimer: I do not equate PSAT score with genius but it is a statistical indicator as good as others, maybe better. And students from flyover states that I know easily cleared MA qualifier score threshold, with no private tutoring.

    • Philip, easily to educate kids are not a given anywhere, you posted several times about regression toward the mean and mean sliding. This kind of entropy can and does affect any group of people when efforts are not made to excel. I noticed that Massachusetts has STEM communities of interests for school age children and (pricey) summer STEM camps with great teachers.
      I agree that educating children across the board is very important. Kudos to Texas and Florida. My local schools that I am paying property taxes to support are to excel at educating students across the board without totally abandoning gifted education, as measured by both median student college admissions and subsequent college graduation and achievements of top students. This elevates their US ranking.

    • Well, the kids in Maskachusetts are “easier to educate” anyway in the sense that they were generally native-born and therefore speak English as a first language. We love migrants and yearn to provide them with sanctuary… we just don’t want to change our zoning laws so as to make it possible to build multi-unit housing. Thus, our love for low-skill migrants remains unrequited and states such as Florida and Texas are blessed with their non-English-speaking children.

  5. Been buying stuff manely from China & almost nothing from lately, probably because the only priority for generation Z seems to be social justice & no-one in this generation has ever heard of electronicals.

  6. I wonder how long it will be until Florida becomes another California, politically?

  7. It is really sad and it pains me to see how much time, energy and money this country is spending on “feel good” initiatives while ignoring much, much hard and real problems we face.

    If today, I walk up to Boston City Hall, with a dozen or so protesters, holding signs and protesting about “Rhinos Lives Matters” (or pick your favorite topic) you will see me on TV and you will see yard signs and flags popping up on the cause all over the country. And many will follow and support this “cause” not knowing what the hack it is all about. On the other hands, if I walk up to Boston City Hall, with a dozen or so protesters, holding signs and protesting about “Runaway Deficit Matters” or “Defund Incompetent Schools” or “Our Students are Lazy” (or pick your favorite topic) you will see everyone condemning my protest, calling me names and casting me and my protest into oblivion.

  8. I can report that our Northern California school district in a wealthy suburban neighborhood is completely and totally focused on equality and diversity.

    Academic outcomes are not even considered or mentioned.

    Gifted students get lip service, and heaven forbid if anyone suggests the higher achieving students should be grouped in a class during middle school, rather than sprinkled in with the other kids. The school administrator looked at me like I had three heads.

  9. Why bother with an entire “anti racism” curriculum, when it can all be summed up simply by teaching Jesus’ golden rule: “do unto others, as you’d have them do unto you”. One 15-minute lecture ought to be enough?

    Yes, it was sad that St. George Floyd died of an overdose after swallowing all the fentanyl the had just purchased. But what about the 100,000 others who also die of fentanyl overdoses yearly, but weren’t recorded on camera – will they be commemorated too?

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