Education

Barbara reading to local schoolchildren

As the mother of children who attend public schools and a product of public schools herself, Barbara has worked with local School Committees to ensure that students are being given the best possible tools to advance their education.
In the legislature, Barbara worked with her colleagues to maintain local aid to cities and towns, thus helping many schools avoid dramatic reductions to funds for educating.
She has been a vocal advocate for maximizing funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker and included a transportation pilot to save money by sharing routes.  She also is pushing for school districts to be incentivized for in-district services through the Circuit Breaker.
Her recently passed, bi-partisan Autism Medical Insurance bill will greatly save on education costs, as children will now have access to treatments to better manage communication and behavior and have a better chance at staying in a mainstream classroom rather than expensive out of district costs.

Bills Passed in 2009-2010

Achievement Gap (Chapter 12 of the Acts of 2010)

  • Strengthens the state’s application for federal “Race to the Top” funding – MA was granted $250 million on August 24, 2010
  • Allows stronger intervention authority for the state in underperforming districts
  • Lifts the cap on charter schools in the lowest performing school districts
  • Helps to facilitate innovation and excellence in schools throughout Massachusetts.
  • Establishes strict guidelines regulating the recruitment and retention of students at charter schools (to ensure that both Special Education and English Language Learners are present in charter schools)
  • Provides the groundwork for innovation schools which can be created with the authorization of individual districts

School Nutrition (Chapter 197 of the Acts of 2010)

  • Bans the sale of unhealthy competitive foods and drinks in Massachusetts public schools.
  • Requires schools to sell non-fried foods and vegetables at any location where foods are sold
    Continuing education of school nurses, nutrition and exercise instruction in schools
  • Collection and reporting of obesity trends
  • Establishment of a farm to school program developed by DESE and Agricultural Resources

Bullying (Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010)

  • Prohibits bullying and cyber-bullying
  • Directs schools to implement bullying prevention and intervention plans
  • Requires school staff to report incidents of bullying
  • Schools are required to include bullying prevention in their curriculum and to develop and implement plans to address bullying
  • Requires school staff to report incidents of bullying to the principal, who must then investigate and take appropriate disciplinary action
  • Prohibits bullying on school grounds, school busses, at school-sponsored activities, and through the use of electronic communications
  • DESE is required to identify low cost and free options for professional development for school staff
  • DESE is also required to develop a model bullying prevention and intervention plan schools can use in developing their own plans
  • Requires principals to notify parents of both the victim and perpetrator when bullying has occurred
  • Involves parents by requiring that schools consult parents in the development of their anti-bullying plans and that schools offer information to parents on bullying prevention
  • Children on the Autism spectrum and children who are vulnerable to bullying because of a disability must have provisions in their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) to ensure they obtain the skills to avoid and respond to bullying