Lesser Welcomes Del. Gov. Carney and Gov. Baker to Springfield to Tour Commerce High School

SPRINGFIELD — On Friday Senator Eric P. Lesser welcomed Governor Charlie Baker and Del. Governor John Carney to Springfield for a tour of Commerce High School to see the innovative practices employed by students and teachers to improve the school’s performance.

“It’s an honor to welcome Governor Carney to Western Massachusetts and to showcase the fantastic work happening in the Springfield School System. The Springfield model is showing success for students that can be replicated across the state and even around the country,” said Sen. Lesser.

In 2010, a number of low-performing Springfield schools formed an “empowerment zone” to allow school principals more autonomy and flexibility in managing their schools’ curriculum and finances. The move prevented a takeover by the state, and is showing promise as a successful model for improvement.

Sen. Lesser has introduced legislation that would allow schools in cities and towns across the Commonwealth to adopt the empowerment zone model and to replicate the success seen in Springfield.

In September, Sen. Lesser testified in favor of the bill before the state legislature’s Education Committee, alongside Springfield Superintendent of Schools Dan Warwick, president and CEO of the Urban League of Springfield Henry Thomas III, and the principal and two teachers at Duggan Middle School.

The teachers, Emma Klein and Evan Christner, explained why they feel the empowerment zone model has given them greater flexibility in the classroom to avoid “teaching to the test.”

Gov. Carney drove up from Delaware to see how the empowerment zone model was improving students’ success, and whether or not something similar could be implemented in his state.

“I hope Gov. Carney will be able to take some of what he learned back to Delaware with him,” Sen. Lesser said.

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