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June 1, 2010

 

The Honorable Arne Duncan
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202

 

Dear Secretary Duncan:

 

On behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we are writing to enthusiastically endorse Massachusetts' Phase 2 application to the Race to the Top Fund.

 

Massachusetts has been recognized as a national leader in education reform and improvement since the passage of our Commonwealth's landmark 1993 Education Reform Act, and our students consistently rank among the highest performers on U.S. and international measures of reading, mathematics and science achievement. At the same time, we need to do more to accelerate progress in closing persistent achievement gaps and ensure that each and every one of our students receives a world-class public education. Massachusetts' Phase 2 application builds on our commitment to education reform by leveraging the provisions of An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap, a groundbreaking state law passed in January 2010 that expands high-performing charter schools in struggling school districts, increases state authority to turn around low-performing schools, and promotes the establishment of flexible and autonomous "Innovation Schools" statewide. We're confident that the new reforms we have enacted will push student achievement to new heights, and support from the Race to the Top Fund will allow our students to reach those heights faster.

 

Massachusetts' Phase 2 application emphasizes four ambitious yet achievable goals. First, we will attract, develop, and retain an effective, diverse, and culturally competent educator workforce by developing a new statewide framework for teacher and principal evaluation in which impact on student growth will be a significant factor. Second, we will provide curricular and instructional resources that support teacher effectiveness and success for all students by building a statewide teaching and learning system aligned with the Common Core Standards, which Massachusetts has played a major role in shaping. Third, we will concentrate effective instruction and supports for educators, students, and families in our lowest performing schools by developing a specialized corps of educators prepared to tackle the challenges of low achieving schools, and by building district and state capacity to prevent low achievement and sustain progress. Finally, we will substantially increase the number of students who graduate from high school ready for college and career by exposing more students to rigorous curricula and college-level work, particularly in STEM fields, and by better aligning high school curricula with college entrance requirements.

 

We believe that these initiatives will not only be a powerful impetus for dramatic change in Massachusetts, but also allow our state to continue to serve as a national model for educational improvement and reform. In shaping our Phase 2 application, our state's education leaders have taken great care to retain the elements of our Phase 1 proposal that were highly-rated, while also strengthening proposals related to teacher evaluation, the use of data systems to monitor student progress, and our timeline for considering adoption of the Common Core Standards.

Our Phase 2 application reflects the collaboration of a wide array of stakeholders, including superintendents, school boards, principals, advocates and the business community, and we're particularly proud to have secured the endorsement of our state's largest teacher union, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, for our application. As Massachusetts has done so successfully in the past, our Phase 2 application underscores our commitment to do education reform with the field, not to the field.

 

We're deeply grateful to you and President Obama for making this unprecedented opportunity available to the States, and encourage you to give Massachusetts' application your fullest consideration. With respect and appreciation,

 

Sincerely,

 



John F. Kerry

U.S. Senator

Scott P. Brown

U.S. Senator

 

Edward J. Markey

U.S. Representative

 

Barney Frank

U.S. Representative

 

Richard E. Neal

U.S. Representative

 

John W. Olver

U.S. Representative

 

John F. Tierney

U.S. Representative

 

William Delahunt

U.S. Representative

 

James P. McGovern

U.S. Representative

 

Michael Capuano

U.S. Representative

 

Stephen F. Lynch

U.S. Representative

 

Niki Tsongas

U.S. Representative