BOSTON — A Massachusetts business group is calling for changes in the state’s education system in light of a report that shows more than two-thirds of the state’s employers report difficulty hiring appropriately skilled employees.
The report by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education scheduled for release Monday says bolstering the state’s public schools is viewed as a critical step in producing more workers with the right skills to succeed in a technology driven economy.
The Boston Globe reports that the survey, part of which is included in the 120-page report, found that 69 percent of the 334 employers who responded said they experienced difficulty hiring employees with the appropriate skills, while 84 percent said school systems require moderate to major changes.
The survey was conducted by MassINC Polling Group.
MEDFORD, Mass. — A new Tufts University program hopes to remove the financial barriers keeping cash-strapped students from taking a year off after high school to travel or volunteer, offering an opportunity to explore different communities before starting college.
This “gap year” program launching this fall will pay for housing, airfare and even visa fees, which can add up to $30,000 or more.
Students selected for Tufts’ 4+1 program can defer their admission for a year while remaining tied to the university through video chat and email. Tufts will work with volunteer organizations to create packages that fit students’ financial needs.
Holly Bull, president of the Center of Interim Programs, says students are able to see the world beyond the bubble they grew up in and get a better perspective of their future.
#tcot This right NOW on #NotYourTonto
DUDLEY, Mass. — A Team 5 Investigation uncovered teachers taking sexual advantage of students and now a police chief is speaking out about his frustration with Massachusetts law allowing many of those teachers to escape criminal prosecution.
Team 5′s Kathy Curran has more on why efforts to change that have gone nowhere on Beacon Hill for years.
“If you’re in a position such as mine and you get presented with something that should be changed, I feel an obligation to try and change it and try to protect the victims in these cases,” said Dudley Police Chief Steve Wojnar.
Wojnar is calling for Beacon Hill lawmakers to take action after Team 5 Investigates exposed how many teachers caught in sex scandals with their students can’t be prosecuted if the student is 16 years old, or older.
“It’s extremely frustrating. If you’re in a position of authority over minors under the age of 18, you certainly have a direct amount of responsibility and impact on their future, in some way, shape or form, so you have to refrain from any of these types of relationships,” he said.
In 2004, the Dudley Police Department began an investigation into 31-year old Amber Jennings, an English teacher at Shepard Hill Regional High School who had an alleged sexual relationship with a 16-year-old former student.
Wojnar says prosecutors couldn’t charge her with sexual assault because the law doesn’t prohibit sexual relationships between students and teachers.
“When you found out did you just shake your head?” asked Team 5 Investigates’ Curran.
“Yes, and this is the reason why I’ve been trying to work on something for almost eight-10 years now because something really needs to change in that vein,” said Wojnar.
Wojnar is backing legislation introduced by Sen. Richard Moore of Uxbridge that’s intended to bring Massachusetts in line with other states, making it a crime for people in positions of authority to misuse their authority for sexual purposes.
“The legislation basically covers anybody, either a private or public institution of any type, it could be teachers, social workers, it’s anybody in a position of authority over minors,” Wojnar explained.
One example is Leominster High School teacher Molly Crane who surrendered her teaching license after records showed she allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student. She even went as far as giving the student a cellphone and setting up a Facebook page so she could communicate in secret, forcing the student to continue the relationship through intimidation and coercion.
Crane couldn’t be criminally charged either and she denies the allegations.
“Do you think it should be a crime if a teacher uses his or her position to take advantage of a student?” asked Curran.
“Absolutely, it’s very troubling when anybody takes advantage of their relationship with students to take advantage of those students,” said Mitchell Chester, commissioner of the Mass. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
But attorney Alice Peisch, chair of the Legislature’s joint committee on education told Team 5 Investigates she isn’t so sure. “Whether or not losing one’s job is a sufficient deterrent to that activity is something I’d have to give more consideration to,” said Peisch.
“Why do you think this legislation hasn’t been passed?” asked Curran.
“I have no idea. I’d be willing to talk to anybody who has a problem or issue with it in any way, shape or form,” said Wojnar.
The legislation won’t be taken up by the judiciary committee at the earliest until March. Critics tell Team 5 they believe too many defense attorneys in the Legislature are preventing it from passing.