EDUCATION

A sign against the "Indians" mascot.
Phil Demers / Masslive

The Gill-Montague Massachusetts school committee has a new line-up following an election Monday that also addressed a controversial sports mascot.

In more than a two-to-one margin, voters in Montague supported keeping the "Indians" as the Turners Falls High School mascot.

The referendum was non-binding, however. It does not change the school committee's previous vote to eliminate the mascot, which has been called offensive by many Native Americans.

Governor Baker gets an update on the Springfield Empowerment Zone at Forest Park Middle School.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

Governor Charlie Baker was in Springfield to hear the latest on the Springfield "Empowerment Zone, which consists of six middle schools and a high school.

In an "Empowerment Zone," principals and teachers have broad autonomy over everything from the curriculum to the budget. The results after the first year were mixed, with some test results up and some down.

A person wearing a Confederate flag jacket, outside Easthampton High School on May 3, 2017.
Submitted Photo / NEPR

Can a school prevent students from wearing the Confederate flag? The school committee in Easthampton, Massachusetts, did just that this week, raising questions about the rights of students and responsibilities of educators.

A person attaches a Confederate flag to a truck in this photo, which a parent said was snapped outside Easthampton High School on April 24, 2017.
Submitted Photo / MassLive

The Easthampton School Committee will decide Tuesday night whether to continue a temporary ban  that prohibits students from wearing clothing with a symbol of the confederate flag to school.

An online petition urged the school committee to change the mascot of Turners Falls High School.
Screen shot / Change.org

Even though the Gill-Montague school committee in western Massachusetts voted in February to get rid of a controversial sports mascot, some voters will get their say this month.

The Indians have represented Turners Falls High school for decades. After several public forums, the regional school committee sided with mascot critics, who say it's disrespectful to Native Americans.

In November 2016, Damien Johnson was one of several people who painted a solvent on rocks atop Mount Tom to get rid of racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic messages.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States increased by more than a third in 2016 over the year before, according to an annual audit from the Anti--Defamation League. The jump was especially steep in Massachusetts, with a 150 percent increase.

Compared to other states, Massachusetts had the fifth highest number of anti-Semitic incidents last year, with a total of 125 episodes -- topped by only California, New Jersey, New York and Florida.

The former Southbridge High School, now home to administrative offices for the school district.
Henry Epp / NEPR

Back in January, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker took a moment in his State of the Commonwealth address to mention struggling school districts that have been taken over by the state, a process known as receivership.

"We encourage the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to continue to use this tool," Baker said.

No more districts have been taken over since then, but there are currently three under state leadership: Lawrence, Holyoke and the most recent, Southbridge, a town of about 16,000 people in the central part of the state, on the border with Connecticut.

The former toll booth at Exit 8 of the Massachusetts Turnpike in Palmer.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

What made The Short List this week?

A screenshot from the West Mass branding video.
Video by Steve Porter / PORTERHOUSE MEDIA

What made The Short List this week?

  • Ardent President Trump supporter Massachusetts State Representative Geoff Diehl is considering running against Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2018.
  • Should the long standing moniker Pioneer Valley be changed to West Mass?
  • Educators and police in Northampton, Massachusetts, are trying to come up with new ways to engage students after a program called “High Five Friday” was stopped due to concerns about some children’s reactions to law enforcement. 

GUESTS

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