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Dear Colleagues,

Students across the Commonwealth are going to school every day to learn from their teachers and each other – to better themselves, create opportunities for themselves, and to put themselves on a path for a successful future.

In my weekly visits to schools, I see kids displaying tremendous honor and bravery despite overwhelming odds. One brave student, Connor Flanagan, comes to mind.

Connor was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2005, he fought it with the help of his family and doctors and he survived. Then, he got lung disease. In the face of extraordinary circumstances he battled back – when he was too sick to go to school, a personalized robot went for him. This robot – his connection to his education was investment of the district – a district making sure that every kid, even Connor, got the education they needed to succeed.

When we have kids like this in front of us, willing to give it all to be in school, we must always bring our ‘A-Game’ to each and every interaction.  It’s Connor, and children across Massachusetts that inspire us to go to work every day and work tirelessly to ensure their bright futures. They are our motivators.

And we are doing some good work. We are working to ensure that our students have access to a high-quality education and opportunities that will create successful futures. We are working to close persistent and unacceptable achievement gaps that disproportionately affect students from lower-income families, students who are English language learners, students of color, and students with disabilities. And we are creating a fully integrated and seamless public education system that will support our children from cradle to career.

Under Governor Patrick, we’ve funded public schools at the highest level in our state’s history, we’ve worked hard to bring kids off the waitlist into quality early education programs and we’ve to make college more affordable.  And we engaged our community colleges in the vital work of meeting our workforce needs, leveraging our training dollars. But there’s more to do!

We must continue to invest in education because it’s our calling card to the world. With over 300 colleges, universities and research institutions within a 90-minute drive of downtown Boston, education is our most significant resource — as important to Massachusetts as oil is to Texas and corn is to Iowa.

The implications of allowing even one young person to remain stuck in the achievement gap or be limited in their education attainment by soaring costs in higher education go far beyond the harm to that individual student; there are also significant economic implications for local communities and our state as a whole. The Commonwealth’s ability to attract and retain employers is inextricably linked to the success of every worker – and the success of every student. No one is expendable. When we shortchange children, we endanger our state’s economic competitiveness and quality of life. In order to sustain our knowledge-based economy, we must retain talent and ensure that all of our students have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

To do that, we know that we must serve all of Massachusetts’ students. We must continue to support an educational system that provides access to high-quality and inspirational educational opportunities that will transform their lives. And we must continue to foster the development of well-educated and engaged citizens who will contribute to and strengthen the Commonwealth in the future.

– Secretary of Education Matthew Malone, Ph. D.

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