The Mental Health ABC Act: Addressing Barriers to Care was signed into law by Governor Baker in August, setting off a number of new actions to increase accessibility to care. While the bill addresses mental health at large, there are a number of sections that specifically impact the education system. Our team combed through the bill to dig into exactly how it will affect schools. Read our section-by-section breakdown of the new law.
Massachusetts has developed a reputation for being a hub of innovation in science, technology, engineering, and math. Fields like health care and technology are booming here. Yet compared with the general population, the people who fill these roles are disproportionately White. There are increasing opportunities to work in this growing, lucrative industry. But for whom? Research shows that even though many students with marginalized identities have an intrinsic interest in and capacity for STEM coursework, there is a systemic shortage of support, representation, and resources to help cultivate that interest. Our latest case study looks at how the BoSTEM Initiative is working to fill this gap by coordinating a system of high-quality out-of-school-time STEM learning opportunities for middle school students.
We are thrilled to announce the addition of two team members, Director of Program Implementation and Strategy Danny Rojas and Director of Policy Alexis Lian. Learn more about the experience and perspectives they bring to the Rennie Center and what they are working on.
This year’s Condition of Education in the Commonwealth report focused on how Massachusetts can support teachers in recovering from the challenges of the pandemic and best recruit and prepare the teaching force of tomorrow. Earlier this month, we joined members of the education and business communities of Western Massachusetts to dig deeper into these ideas on a local level. Incase you missed it, check out our recap of the event which included a panel discussion on how to better support educators and ways local organizations are breaking down barriers to the teaching profession.
In the early days of the pandemic, members of Open Opportunity—Massachusetts started discussing a question: how is it that in a time when all students are learning remotely, their zip codes still determine the quality of education they have access to? Why should learning be confined to the opportunities available in one school building? The group began dreaming up the idea of a Campus Without Walls, where a student in one community could take a class taught by a teacher across the city, or even across the state. In spring 2021, a pilot of Campus Without Walls was launched in Boston Public Schools. To learn more about how CWW has impacted educators, we spoke with two teachers who, despite teaching in different schools in different neighborhoods, teamed up to teacher a Feminist Theory course for 12th graders.
The pandemic has laid bare the challenges with, and our society’s reliance on, early education and care. Attention on this issue is coming from all policy levels, including the recent release of a report by the MA Legislature's special Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission. If we want to address the inequities highlighted and exacerbated by the pandemic, we need to take a close look at our approach to early childhood support. What key investments can be made to support parents in getting back into the workforce? How can we utilize new funds to give all children a strong start? To find the answers to these questions and more, the MA Early Childhood Funder Collaborative has chosen the Rennie Center to create an innovative statewide early childhood landscape map and data overview.
We're teaming up with the CERES Institute for Children & Youth at Boston University Wheelock College and Education Resource Strategies to launch the EdImpact Research Consortium, a new initiative designed to support evidence-based spending, analyze the impact of COVID recovery funds, and provide a platform for the field to learn from one another. Through this partnership, the Consortium will offer a one-stop shop of supports for educators, administrators, policymakers, and community stakeholders.
As students, families, and educators face another year filled with uncertainty from the pandemic, the federal government is making a $2.9 billion investment in the recovery and redesign of our schools. Communities want to know how these funds are being spent and educators want to ensure they support sustainable improvement. If spending is aligned with evidence-based strategies to drive equitable access and opportunity for all students, this unprecedented federal investment has the potential to dramatically accelerate learning, catalyze innovation, and support students' holistic growth and development. But how will we know if it makes an impact? To find out we are teaming up with CERES Institute for Children & Youth and Education Resource Strategies to launch the EdImpact Research Consortium.
The education field has paid much attention to the need to diversify the teacher workforce. But what about education leadership? Students seeing themselves represented in their principals and superintendents has a direct impact on their experiences with the school system and their future aspirations. So how are Massachusetts districts doing when it comes to gender and racial equity in education leadership? To answer this question we teamed up with the Women’s Power Gap Initiative of the Eos Foundation for a multi-year research project zeroing in on disparities in K-12 leadership. What resulted was our latest report, The Power Gap in Massachusetts K-12 Education.
Simone Ngongi-Lukula, Andrew Pablo, and Emily 蘇妮 Thoman are our first Future Education Leaders Network (FELN) research fellows! With support from Rennie Center staff, they are conducting research regarding pathways to careers in education. This process involves reviewing relevant literature, identifying factors that draw people of color to work in the education sector (and push them away from that sector), and providing policy recommendations for recruiting, hiring, and retaining BIPOC professionals.