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End distracted driving

Last July, Rep. Roy participated an a program on distracted driving at a legislative event in Philadelphia. You can see the slideshow from the presentation here. A few weeks later, he was introduced to an organization, End Distracted Driving, at the State House that focuses on educating young drivers about the dangers of distracted driving. After these meetings, he was convinced that one of these programs had to be brought to the 10th Norfolk District.

Earlier in the month, 850 juniors and seniors from Franklin High participated in the End Distracted Driving (EDD) program in conjunction with the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys (MATA). The Milford Daily News report on the event can be viewed by clicking here.

EDD was started by Philadelphia Attorney Joel Feldman, whose daughter was killed in 2009 by a distracted driver. Ever since the incident Feldman has been traveling the nation telling the story about losing his daughter and trying to engage students to become ambassadors in the movement to end distracted driving. 

Distracted driving substantially increases the risk of an accident and young drivers are at the greatest risk. While we have laws in place, distracted driving remains a major health risk with deadly consequences.

Visit to Higashi School

The Boston Higashi School held a Legislator's day at their Randolph campus this month. The Higashi schools are a system of international programs catering to children and young adults with autism.

Boston Higashi services a number of constituents and their families from both Medway & Franklin. During the tour of the school, Rep. Roy was able to meet with Louis, Grace, & Noelle. He also had an opportunity to visit an art class, a physical education class, and a group making ceramics. One of the highlights was a performance by the Higashi Jazz band.

For more information about the Boston Higashi School, click here  to visit their website.

MRMC officials meet locals

Rep. Roy hosted a round-table event with a panel of professionals from Milford Regional Medical Center to start a dialogue about the growing concerns regarding behavioral and mental health in Franklin & Medway.

Town officials from both Franklin and Medway were in attendance, as well as school officials from both towns, the YMCA, and Dean College. Some great points were brought to the table and we look forward to working together to continue to improve the overall well being of Franklin and Medway’s citizens.

New Opportunity to Lead

While Massachusetts is at the top of the nation in education, there is room for improvement. And with our centuries old-commitment to excellence in public education, we are not one to rest on our laurels.

Our state has an opportunity in the next decade to build on the foundations in place and create conditions where students can achieve greatness and compete with students anywhere in the world. That's the mission set forth in a new report, commissioned by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, called New Opportunity to Lead: A vision for education in Massachusetts for the next 20 years.

We were briefed on the report this month by Sir Michael Barber. He outlined some of the gaps and new approaches to educating citizens in a knowledge-dependent, fast-moving global economy. And he provided a blueprint for success which you can read about by clicking here.

Sir Michael is a leading authority on education systems and education reform. He previously served the UK government as Head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit and as Chief Adviser to the Secretary of State for Education on School Standards. He is the author of several books including Instruction to Deliver; The Learning Game: Arguments for an Education Revolution; and How to do the Impossible: a Guide for Politicians with a Passion for Education. 

MetroWest part of creative economy network

Rep Roy  was pleased to take part in the event where the 495/MetroWest area was designated as part of the state's creative economy network initiative. The network seeks to promote regional collaboration to grow the area’s creative industries.

The Town of Franklin and Dean College were recognized as key players in this initiative. For more on the event and inititive, please read the Milford Daily News article which can be viewed by clicking here.

New Product: Synergy

Android and iPhone users can download a free app to receive local emergency and disaster information from the Mass. Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).  Ping4alerts! is a new mobile communications app for alerting the public in emergencies and disasters.

Ping4alerts! enables MEMA to send highly targeted, instant multimedia alerts to iPhone and Android devices to notify citizens about situations and events happening near them. Click here to learn more.

License plate bill gets hearing

H3136, known as An Act Relative to the requirements of distinctive license plates, and filed by Rep. Roy and Sen. Spilka, was heard before the Joint Committee on Transportation. Massachusetts. AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman, Senator Spilka, Representatives Dykema, Cutler, Kuros, as well as Medway constituent Paul Yorkis and others joined Rep. Roy to testify in favor of the bill. Sen. Bruce Tarr also spoke in favor of the bill.

House bill 3136 seeks to amend state law by lowering the threshold for obtaining a specialty license plate. By lowering the number of license plate applications needed in order to obtain approval from the Registry of Motor Vehicles, all charitable foundations will have a better opportunity to be successful in getting their plates into production. As a result, there will be an increased long-term revenue stream that these small charities need. The special license plate program has been a great success in assisting charities, the program has already raised close to $75 million in the Commonwealth since 2003. Both Senator Spilka and Representative Roy have sponsored this bill and it has achieved bipartisan support.

The Boston Globe ran a feature story on the bill which can be viewed by clicking here. The Milford Daily News report on the bill can be viewed by clicking here.

Do you have unclaimed property?

The Massachusetts State Treasury has identified hundreds of thousands of new individuals, charities and businesses over the last six months that are entitled to over $60 million in unclaimed property. As part of an effort to return this money, the Treasury will be publishing in newspapers a list of names identified over the past six months owed more than $100.
 
Unclaimed Property includes forgotten savings and checking accounts, un-cashed checks, insurance policy proceeds, stocks, dividends, and contents of unattended safe deposit boxes. Most accounts are considered unclaimed and turned over to the Treasury for safekeeping after three years with no activity. In addition to the $60 million that the Treasury identified over the last six months, the Commonwealth is holding over $2 billion in trust until rightful owners can be identified.
 
The newly released list includes 11 accounts over $100,000, 23 accounts between $50,000 and $100,000, 434 accounts between $10,000 and $50,000 and 10,795 accounts in excess of $1,000. Due to space constraints the list will not include the names of approximately 297,000 individuals identified in the last six months who are owed less than $100.

Anyone can easily check to see if they are owed money by clicking here or by calling 888-344-MASS (6277). One in ten people in Massachusetts has unclaimed property in their name.

Questions arise on Common Core and PARCC

Several parents have reached out to our office to inquire about the implementation of the Common Core and PARCC testing in Massachusetts. In 2010, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) voted to adopt the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to replace the English Language Arts and Mathematics Curriculum Frameworks. Committees of educators, working with DESE, augmented and customized the Common Core in a process that led to the development of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks that were approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education at their December 21, 2010 meeting.

The new frameworks were followed by a proposed new assessment tool known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) to replace the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). PARCC is a set of assessments that measure whether students are on track to be successful in college and their careers. These high quality, computer-based K–12 assessments in Mathematics and English Language Arts/Literacy give teachers, schools, students, and parents better information on whether students are on track in their learning and for success after high school, and tools to help teachers customize learning to meet student needs. Massachusetts has just begun a two-year trial period for PARCC assessments and will determine in 2016 whether to continue after receiving feedback from educators, policymakers, parents, and students.

The goal of the curriculum frameworks and PARCC field testing is to strengthen the education system in Massachusetts and help our kids be college and career ready. 

The Nation at Risk report from 1983 provided the backdrop for education reform efforts throughout the nation. Following that report and a lawsuit challenging the adequacy of education on the Commonwealth, standards-based reforms were introduced in 1993 with passage of the Education Reform Act. This law called for high standards for achievement, accountability for performance, and equitable funding for meeting these goals and set forth a Common Core for Learning program. The 2010 revisions were part of DESE's efforts at continued improvement of our educational offerings and further reforms.

The latest round of reforms has raised questions about whether Massachusetts was taking steps backward, and whether the federal government was encroaching on local authority.

To address these concerns, Rep. Roy has met with representatives from DESE and the School Superintendents in the area. In addition, he has participated in a number of meetings on the subject. Rep. Roy is a former School Committee member and a current member of the Joint Committee on Education. The Education Committee has conducted a number of hearings on this topic and received many briefing materials. The DESE website has a page dedicated to PARCC which includes many of these materials and which you can view by clicking here. The site also contains answers to frequently asked questions that address many of these concerns. 

Earlier in the week, a new report was issued entitled The New Opportunity to Lead, a vision for education in Massachusetts in the next 20 years. The report outlines some of the things we need to do in Massachusetts to make our already good school system great. The Common Core and PARCC fit in rather well with this vision.

In addition, the Condition of Education in the Commonwealth report for 2013 addresses continuing challenges — ranging from a lack of school readiness to a lingering proficiency gap to the need to ensure all students are college and career ready. 

On April 11 at 9 am, Rep. Roy will be hosting Mitchell Chester, the Commissioner of Education, for a round-table discussion in Franklin on education reforms, including Common Core and PARCC. More information on this forum will appear in a separate email and members of the public are welcome to participate. Additionally, we are putting together another forum on the New Opportunity to Lead report mentioned above. 

Massachusetts has a centuries old-commitment to excellence in public education and we look forward to insuring that our students get a top notch education.
Copyright © 2014 State Rep Jeff Roy, All rights reserved.
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