Post Content

Deval Patrick

Jeffrey Simon

Director, MA Recovery & Reinvestment Office

View Jeffrey’s Bio

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School in Cambridge to see firsthand the impact of its stimulus award. I got to see that – and so much more.

Banneker_students

The Banneker School is a K through 6 science and technology school with a student body that is nearly 75 percent African American. Marlon Davis, its high-energy executive director, estimates that 80 percent of the student body is on free or reduced lunch. They draw from 18 surrounding communities.

This is one of those schools where, from the moment you walk in, you know that everyone involved in this enterprise, from the teachers to the administration to the parents, cares – a lot. They want to see their kids succeed and they are determined to make that happen.

 

Photo by Ariel Kessler.

In addition to its focus on academic excellence, this is the kind of school that takes its kids on a ski trip on a Saturday just to expose them to the experience.

Last year, the school received a nearly $400K Recovery Act award and immediately put it to work. As Sherley Bretous-Carre, the school’s assistant principal, told me, “We knew what we wanted and what we needed.” It was one of those “shovel-ready” projects you hear so much about.

Banneker_sherley_jeffrey

The teachers and administrators at the school took an interesting approach. First, they decided that what the students really needed was some excellent tutoring and very small group work after school. Next, they figured out who was really tops in the area of tutoring and small group work and came up with the people at the Princeton Review. This is the company best known for SAT preparation work for high school students.

The school approached the Princeton Review and got agreement from them to provide comprehensive tutoring services for

Photo by Ariel Kessler.

36 of its kids who needed extra help. On my visit they showed me the results of that extra help in the form of the change in MCAS scores. I was pretty amazed. In fact, the tutoring helped the school improve its MCAS scores so much that it has moved out of probationary status and is now allowed to grow.

(Watch Marlon explain how the school used its stimulus award.)

This is the kind of story that keeps me going. The fact that stimulus awards are helping real students and real schools is as gratifying as it gets. Talking to a few of the students was a great experience.

Marlon said something at our meeting that really stuck with me. “When you direct resources at a problem you get results.” Stimulus awards are all about directing resources at problems – at health centers that need more staff, at roads that need fixing, at fire departments that need more firefighters, at public housing projects that need improvements. I want to see first hand the results of those resources. Not just in terms of more people working – Princeton Review hired 4 additional people just for this project – but also in terms of what the project accomplishes.  Better scores, better prepared students, more success.

Check back here often. I’m going to be traveling around the state and bringing you back stories of how stimulus funds are being used.

Do have a stimulus story you want to share? Let me know in the comments.

Written By:

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Recent Posts

Youth Homelessness – Jack Duffy-Protentis – November 2013 posted on Nov 13

I was in the 3rd grade when my parents told me that I was losing my eye sight. I remember feeling relieved that the reason I was struggling in school was because of this thing called Stargardt’s Disease; and not because I was not smart.   …Continue Reading Youth Homelessness – Jack Duffy-Protentis – November 2013

Raycela Dasher – Bristol County -October 2013 posted on Nov 13

As I looked at the stack of papers laid before me, I took a deep breath and prepared to write. These papers were more than just another assignment or application. These papers were a chance of a lifetime. As I looked to the top of   …Continue Reading Raycela Dasher – Bristol County -October 2013

Education and youth homelessness // Written by: Mary Kate Roffey of the GSYC posted on Oct 4

Education and youth homelessness are two of the Governor’s Statewide Youth Council’s initiatives. Throughout the month of August, the GSYC decided to hold ‘Back to School’ drives to collect school supplies for homeless youth. This project allowed the GSYC to make progress on both issues   …Continue Reading Education and youth homelessness // Written by: Mary Kate Roffey of the GSYC