Category Archives: Education

Massachusetts Passes First Education Law ~ April 14, 1642

Education has always been a high priority in Massachusetts even back to its ”Bay Colony” days. So it’s important to go back to the archives to remember this important day.

MassMoments remind us that on this day – April 14, 1642 – the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the first law in the New World requiring that  children be taught to read and write. It was an incredible step for education. While not a universal mandate at the time, it did set the stage for universal, free, compulsory  public-school education in Massachusetts.  “When John Adams drafted the Massachusetts Constitution in 1780, he included provisions that guaranteed public education to all citizens.”

On This Day...

      …in 1642, Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the first law in the New World requiring that children be taught to read and write. The English Puritans who founded Massachusetts believed that the well-being of individuals, along with the success of the colony, depended on a people literate enough to read both the Bible and the laws of the land. Concerned that parents were ignoring the first law, in 1647 Massachusetts passed another one requiring that all towns establish and maintain public schools. It would be many years before these schools were open to all children. Only in the mid-nineteenth century was universal free public schooling guaranteed – in time, made compulsory — for Massachusetts children.
Read the full article at here  for a fuller history of  how a free,  public school education  system evolved in Massachusetts and how it became a model for the nation.

Lowell Catholic Celebrates 25th and Honors Community Service

Lowell Catholic High School  - now a member of the prestigious Xaverian Brothers Sponsored Schools network with a student body of 400 - is celebrating it’s 25th academic year. Last night the 13th Annual Bishop John  R. McNamara Awards Gala raised over $83,000 for scholarship and merit aid while honoring some very special people. Middlesex Community College President Dr. Carole Cowan was honored for her longtime service as a civic and  educational leader. Fr. John W. Hanley, OMI – a longtime LCHS trustee – was honored for his commitment to Lowell Catholic, his impact on student life and his important role  in the transformation of the school. The late Leo and Joan Mahoney – alums of Keith Academy and Keith Hall – were honored as Catholic school education philanthropists who generosity helped the 2006 expansion. LCHS 2008 grad Casey Judge – a scientist involved in the development of new vaccines – was given the first Alumni Achievement Award.

Rev. John Hanley, OMI with Casey Judge (my photo)

Mahoney grandsons James Finneral and Sean McNamee accepted the award for their family. Sean mentioned that their grandparents felt that their Catholic education “was a great gift”  while James mentioned their support of Catholic education in Lowell, across Massachusetts, in Ireland, Chile and Haiti. Fr. Hanley remembered his years in Catholic school – noting that he graduated from Cathedral High in 1960 – and those years got him started as a priest and an Oblate. His memories of Bishop McNamara were warm and emotional as he praised his life and his commitment to Catholic education and Lowell Catholic in particular. He praised and thanked the faculty, administration and all who support and help the students “excel, prepare, live” and ended with the words found on Bishop McNamara’s ecclesiastical Coat of Arms ~ “To Echo Christ.”

Rev. John Hanley, OMI with his 2014 Bishop John McNamara Award

Each table setting had a card with a message from a Lowell Catholic student. My card was from Adrian – a graduating Senior – who had spoken to the audience earlier in the evening. “Lowell Catholic has meant the world to me. I have had many incredible opportunities as a student, and my four years at Lowell catholic have prepared me for life beyond high school. I have grown so much from freshman year to today, and for this I will always be grateful to Lowell Catholic.”

Photo: My pastors! Fr. John Hanley, OMI - former pastor of the Immaculate Conception Church ~ and Fr. Nick Sannella the current pastor of the Immaculate...Former Pastor of the Immaculate Conception Church – Rev. John Hanley, OMI with current Immaculate Pastor Rev. Nicholas Sannella

Lowell Catholic is now the only Catholic high school in Lowell today and many alum supporters from the LCHS legacy schools were in the crowd – from Keith Academy, Keith Hall/Keith Catholic, St. Patrick High School, St. Louis Academy and St. Joseph High School. It was a wonderful evening and we will be back in support of LCHS and the Bishop McNamara Honorees.

The Gala crowd listens as John Chemaly – a past honoree – reads citations from the Massachusetts State Senate and the State House of Representatives and the local delegation

UMass Lowell Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies

Next week is a big one for the UMass Lowell Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies Program. Not only will the 2014 Scholar be here, Justice Albie Sachs of South Africa, but three past Scholars will be at events for a reunion—including 2011 Nobel Peace Prize-winner Leymah Gbowee of Liberia. Albie Sachs fought against apartheid along side Nelson Mandela, who appointed Sachs to South Africa’s Constitution (or Supreme) Court after being elected President of South Africa. For a schedule of events, most of which are free and open to the public, visit and click on events for the schedule.




Immigration History Symposium, Lawrence

Today is the last day to register at the lower rate for the Immigration History Symposium this Saturday, April 5, in Lawrence, Mass., hosted by the Lawrence History Center. Panels, film, poetry, photography, smart people, fun people, at a great venue. Why pay extra---register today!(Registering now helps us order the correct amount of food, folks.) Please register here:
Robert Forrant, Professor, UMass Lowell, 978-934-2904

Lowell Conference on Industrial History


RM-ART-182From 1980 through 1993, community partners in Lowell, including the National Park Service and University, hosted 12 gatherings of scholars in the name of the Lowell Conference on Industrial History. At least three volumes of conference proceedings were published. The regular meeting of teachers, students, historians, architects, preservation advocates, sociologists, art historians, economists, elected and government officials, and others made Lowell a hub of research and dialogue on the process and consequences of industrialization in the nation and world.


Greeley Peace Scholars Gather at UMass Lowell

From UMass Lowell University Relations Office

Contacts:  Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or and Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 or

World-renowned humanitarians to convene at UMass Lowell: Peace scholars to unite for special events, engage community in their work

Four internationally acclaimed human-rights activists honored by UMass Lowell, including the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize – will come together at the university on Wednesday, April 9 for a once-in-a-lifetime event to share their work with the public, students, faculty and staff. “Reflections on Peace-Building” will include anti-apartheid champion Albie Sachs, UMass Lowell’s 2014 Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies, and past recipients of the honor in a free public program on how to transcend conflicts and unite people. Sachs is an influential member of the African National Congress, judge, author and teacher whose lifetime pursuit has been abolishing South Africa’s segregationist policies and in their place creating a free and just society. In 1994, then-President Nelson Mandela named him as a judge to the country’s first Constitutional Court, capping his work in the ANC to help establish South Africa as a democracy and draft its constitution. During nearly 15 years on the bench, he advanced South Africa’s recognition of human rights, legalizing same-sex marriage, striking down the death penalty and overturning laws that criminalized homosexuality, among other precedents.

 Sharing in the conversation will be the following Greeley scholars: Leymah Gbowee (2011 honoree), who went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize that same year. Gbowee helped end the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. As a social worker, she organized Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, uniting Christian and Muslim women in a national sit-in to protest the war and pray and sing for peace, which eventually forced national leaders to create a peace process. Today, she is the executive director of the Women’s Peace and Security Network Africa, based in Ghana. In 2009, she and the women of Liberia received the Profiles in Courage Award by the Kennedy Library Foundation. The award-winning 2008 documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” tells her story; Linda Biehl (2008 honoree), who co-founded and directs the Amy Biehl Foundation in the U.S. and the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust in South Africa. Both pay tribute to her daughter, Amy, an American Fulbright scholar who was murdered at age 26 amid political violence in South Africa in the early 1990s. Today, Linda Biehl has reconciled with two of the men convicted of Amy’s death and works with them to teach forgiveness and restorative justice. During her tenure as a Greeley Scholar, she received the Medal of the Order of the Supreme Companions of O.R. Tambo, South Africa’s highest honor for a foreigner. Recognized by the Restorative JusticeCenter, she has also received the Aline and Norman Felton Humanitarian Award; and Padraig O’Malley (2009 honoree), who has worked to resolve conflicts in Northern Ireland, South Africa and Iraq. An award-winning author, in 2009 he organized the international “Forum for Cities in Transition,” which brought together 35 leaders from divided cities with the aim of overcoming their differences and forging shared strengths. The 2010 recipient of Association for Conflict Resolution’s Peacemaker Award, he has also received the Liberal International’s Freedom Prize, the Peace Award of the International Association of University Presidents, the Eire Society Gold Medal Award and the Freedom International Award.

The April 9 event – which will be held at 12:30 p.m. in Comley-Lane Theatre in Mahoney Hall on the university’s South Campus at 870 Broadway St., Lowell – will be the centerpiece of a series of events during Sachs’ residency at UMass Lowell as the 2014 scholar. Other events include: Day Without Violence – Sachs will deliver an address on human rights and the preservation of dignity that is free and open to the public. Tuesday, April 8, 12:30 p.m., O’Leary Library Learning Commons, South Campus, 61 Wilder St., Lowell; Greeley Peace Scholars Benefit Reception – Sachs, Gbowee, Biehl and O’Malley will be the honored guests at a gala to benefit the Greeley Scholar endowment. The reception will include a discussion about peace and conflict resolution moderated by Marcellette Williams, University of Massachusetts senior vice president of academic affairs, student affairs and international relations. Tickets are $75 per person and sponsorship opportunities are available. For details, visit Wednesday, April 9, 5 to 7 p.m., followed by a reception until 9:30 p.m., UMassLowellInn & ConferenceCenter, 50 Warren St., Lowell; Nelson Mandela Memorial Groundbreaking – UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan, Sachs, public officials and members of the local African American Alliance are scheduled to help break ground on a city of Lowell memorial that will pay tribute to Mandela, who was Sachs’ friend and colleague. The event is free and open to the public. Thursday, April 10, 11 a.m., western lawn, Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, 300 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Lowell. A reception inside the TsongasCenter will follow.

Visit for a full schedule of events and more information. The UMass Lowell Greeley Scholar for Peace Studies is selected annually in recognition of the honoree’s distinguished humanitarian achievements and ability to effectively promote peace and conflict resolution at the local, regional, national or international level. Honorees are chosen by the UMass Lowell Peace and Conflict Studies Institute, Greeley Scholar Advisory Committee and leadership of the Peace and Conflict Studies master’s degree program. The institute is co-directed by Robert Gamache, associate vice president of academic affairs, student affairs and international relations for the University of Massachusetts system and UMass Lowell professor of environmental, earth and atmospheric sciences, and Rev. Imogene Stulken, UMass Lowell’s campus minister. The Peace and Conflict Studies program is directed by Prof. Paula Rayman. The award is named in memory of Rev. Dana McLean Greeley, longtime leader of the First Parish in Concord. Others partnering to present Sachs’ visit to UMass Lowell include the university’s Office of Community Relations.

Free our Children’s Potential, Not the Cash

John Edward teaches economics at Bentley and UMass Lowell. He’s a frequent contributor of columns on economic issues. Here is his latest:

There are 310 school districts in Massachusetts. Only 12 do not offer full-day kindergarten. Chelmsford is one of the twelve.

Meanwhile, one Chelmsford Selectman is proposing a tax rebate. Most of the money would go to well-off property owners. We should reject such misplaced priorities.

In my last column I discussed how education could be the great equalizer. The key is starting at a very young age.

In Chelmsford, full-day kindergarten is only available to those who can afford a private school. For students in Chelmsford’s half-day kindergarten, parents have to pay $3,400 per school year to get just childcare coverage for the rest of the school day. Tuition for full-day kindergarten at the Montessori school is $15,100.

Chelmsford school officials would like to establish a full-day program. A feasibility committee estimated a cost of $936,000 for the first year of tuition-free full-day kindergarten. They identified funding for the first year. The School Committee voted to delay implementation because some of the money may not be sustainable.

The feasibility committee acknowledged the evidence that full-day kindergarten is good for children, schools, teachers, and parents. Among the many benefits they cited:
• Academic achievement improves.
• School systems save money due to “reduced retention and remediation rates.”
• Teachers have fewer students and more time for individual and small group instruction
• Parents save money on private school and childcare costs.
• Lower-income families have a school they can actually afford.

I would add that taxpayers benefit when all children in our community have an opportunity to achieve their full potential. Homeowners will benefit from higher property values if the town’s school system improves. Continue reading

TEDx Coming to Lowell

I’m a big fan of TED Talks which are interesting talks by interesting people that arise out of a series of conferences held under the TED label (which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design). The conferences began in 1984 but lately videos of all of the presentations have been made freely available on YouTube and on the TED website. TED has proven to be so popular that it freely licenses its brand to non-profits to hold TED like events locally. These are called TEDx and I just learned that one is to be held in Lowell on Sunday, April 27, 2014. I’ve already marked the date on my calendar.

Here’s the Press Release from the event organizers with more information:

LOWELL, MA– We are excited to today announce the creation of TEDxLowell, an independently produced event operating under a license from TED. The inaugural conference will be held on Sunday, April 27, 2014 at the United Teen Equality Center in Downtown Lowell. TEDxLowell will be organized by members of the Honors Ambassador Program at UMass Lowell, representatives from the United Teen Equality Center in Lowell, and various other volunteers from organizations in Lowell. Speakers are currently being selected and vetted and will be announced as they are confirmed. More
information on applying to speak can be found at

About the Organizer and Venue: The Honors Ambassador Program at UMass Lowell is an entrepreneurial student-run organization at the University of Massachusetts Lowell dedicated to promoting and advancing high-value educational experiences at the University, in its new Commonwealth Honors College, and around Lowell. UTEC‘s mission is to ignite and nurture the ambition of our most disconnected young people to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success. UTEC’s model begins with intensive street outreach to our most disconnected youth. UTEC engages youth through case management, workforce training in social enterprises and alternative education. Social justice and civic engagement are embedded in all programming.

Opiate Abuse Awareness

State Representative Tom Golden has been out front and leading on public policy responses to the widespread opiate abuse that is claiming too many lives. In 2013,  his advocacy led to the re-opening of Tewksbury Hospital’s Alcohol and Drug Detoxification Center
and working with the Greater Lowell Health Alliance he helped obtain $200,000 in state funds for opiate-abuse education programs in the area. In 2011, at an event at Middlesex Community College, Rep. Golden was acknowledged for his efforts on this issue:
“Across the country we see that teens and parents alike underestimate the dangers of abusing prescription drugs,” said Marcia Lee Taylor, Senior Vice President at The Partnership at  “We are thrilled to partner with community leaders like Rep. Golden to educate students about the risks of prescription drug abuse and help reduce the number of prescription drug-related tragedies in the Merrimack Valley.”
Consciousness about this public-health crisis is growing. Last October, Jennifer Myers wrote about Opiate Awareness Week in her Room 50 Blog. Read her report on the activities here.