Holliston Schools Deliver World Class Results
by William Dowd 1/5/13
Parents and students in Holliston can take great pride in the fact that the Holliston school system is providing one of the best educations in the WORLD.
How many businesses set a goal to be the best at what they do and never get there? Yet here in Holliston, our schools are at the very top of their game, and you have to piece together the news to get the story.
A couple of weeks ago, the School Committee reviewed very impressive Grade 10 MCAS score results that showed both improvement over prior scores, and a very impressive ranking in the top five in the state. Then, in a recent article in many papers comes news that US students have gained ground in worldwide standardized testing, moving up in the rankings of student achievement compared to such countries as South Korea, Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong and Japan. The article then references the fact that Massachusetts as a state, performed much better than the US average. Combine that with the fact that Holliston performs much better than the Massachusetts average, and you have a great story of local achievement that deserves a lot more fanfare than it has gotten. And here’s the icing on the cake: Holliston does all this at a per-pupil cost that is lower than average. Proof positive that it’s not how MUCH you spend on education, it’s how WELL you spend what you have.
It’s very popular to criticize spending on our schools because we spend so much money on them. The School Budget dwarfs all others in Town. And many folks have one or two experiences that convince them money is being wasted. But unlike all other budgets, we have objective data that shows the money we’re spending is being very well spent indeed. How did we do this?
First, we have a community that cares deeply about educating kids. Second, that community elects School Committees that make quality education a top priority. Third, those Committees employ a Superintendent who knows what needs to be done and how to do it in order to meet those high expectations. Fourth, the Superintendent and his management team – the school principals – hire the very best teachers for the classrooms, and develop strong curricula to build solid results from kindergarten to High School. Fifth, those dedicated teachers translate all those expectations into well educated and well prepared students performing at the very highest levels in so many dimensions.
Not to dampen our euphoria, but the schools are not perfect. Is every dollar spent in the most efficient way possible? Probably not. Is every teacher performing at a high level? Probably not. Are there ways to do even better without spending lots more money? Probably.
But right now, we need to stop for just a minute and realize what a gem we have. Many communities in this country only dream about what we have in our schools. And right here in little Holliston, we’re living it every day.
At a time when we’re very focused on how much government costs and how to either raise taxes or cut spending, it’s easy to find examples of wasteful spending and dysfunctional government. I have spent a great deal of time doing just that on the Town side for the past two years. As discouraged as I get from time to time with the inability to get the information I request, or to get our elected officials to make the tough decisions needed to keep things affordable and sustainable, I am daily comforted that, at least in our schools, we’ve got a great thing going.
Congratulations to the School Committee, the Superintendent, administrators, teachers, and support staff for doing such a great job with our kids!