State Sen. Sal DiDomenico took yet another step up the leadership ladder last week, getting two major promotions within the legislative body.
First, DiDomenico (D-Everett) was elevated to the position of Assistant Majority Leader by Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). In addition to this new leadership post, Senator DiDomenico will also now serve as Chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Bills in the Third Reading, as well as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs.
Previously, Senator DiDomenico served as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways & Means, and with this new enhanced leadership role and committee assignments, the Senator will still remain a member of this important budget writing committee.
“It is an honor and privilege to be chosen by Senate President Harriette Chandler to serve as Assistant Majority Leader in the Massachusetts Senate,” DiDomenico said. “I look forward to continue serving on her leadership team in this expanded role and working with my colleagues to advance legislation that will have a positive impact on the people of the Commonwealth.”
The announcement of Senator DiDomenico’s promotion came along with the announcement of Senate President Chandler’s full leadership team for the remainder of the 2018 session. The new team is highlighted by the appointment of Senators, including DiDomenico, to Senate leadership positions and new committee assignments.
“As we continue to fight for the future of Massachusetts families, the Massachusetts Senate has never had more energy or purpose than it has today,” said Chandler. “This team is dynamic, experienced, diverse in viewpoints, and represents the best of our goals as Democrats and legislators. In making these decisions, it was critical to me to bring together a team of fresh, strong voices, as well as some of our most respected, long-serving members.”
These appointments follow a unanimous Senate vote earlier this month affirming Chandler as the Senate President for the remainder of the 2018 session. Chandler was initially appointed Acting Senate President in December.
Senator DiDomenico’s full legislatives titles and committee assignments are now as follows:
- Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate
- Chairman of Bill on the Third Reading
- Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs
- Senate Committee on Ways & Means
- Community Development and Small Business
- Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure
- Financial Services
- Labor and Workforce Development
The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation that updates the existing statute relative to English language education in public schools to encompass the latest and best practices serving English language learners (ELLs) and to recognize the value of bilingualism as a skill essential to improving career and college readiness and competiveness in the global economy.
An Act for Language Opportunity for Our Kids (S.2125), also known as the LOOK Bill, removes the current mandate requiring schools to use Sheltered English Immersion (SEI), or English-only programs, as the default ELL program model, thereby giving schools the flexibility to establish programs based on the unique needs of their students.
“By allowing parents and local school districts the flexibility to choose the most effective programs to cater to the specific needs of their students is not only good public policy, but also what is best for our students to be successful,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “We live in a global community, and we must be able to adapt to the changing needs of our communities in a thoughtful and constructive way. This bill achieves that purpose.”
“To ensure that every child in the Commonwealth receives the high quality education that he or she deserves, we must rethink the way we approach educating our English language learners,” said Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), the lead sponsor of the bill. “By allowing for flexibility to implement new English learning programs, increasing parental involvement, and recognizing that multilingualism is a valuable asset in today’s global economy, this bill takes crucial strides to guarantee that every student receives a fair opportunity at educational success.”
“Language should never be a barrier to a student’s academic success,” said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “This bill empowers parents and schools to develop high quality educational opportunities for our English Language Learner students. It also encourages biliteracy, recognizing that knowledge of other languages and cultures is a true asset in our global economy.”
“The current one-size-fits-all model has proven a failure over the past decade plus at teaching education – period,” said Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Jamaica Plain), the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. “For the sake of our ELL students, our school budgets, and our workforce, we need to do something different. S.2125 will empower parents and trust educators to make informed decisions about appropriate tactics for a 6-year-old with some English exposure versus a 12-year-old who has received little formal schooling. And in this precarious moment for our country, the bill recognizes that bilingualism is a strength—not a problem to be cured.”
For some children, moving into an English-only program too soon has proven to stunt academic growth and major implications on future educational success. This has become a growing problem as the number of ELL students in Massachusetts continues to rise. Since the year 2000, the number of ELL students in Massachusetts has doubled to over 90,204 students, or 9.5% of the student population. Last year, 90% of school districts had at least one ELL student and 19% of districts had 100 or more ELLs.
While overall graduation rates for students have risen in the past 10 years, the achievement gap between ELL students and their peers has not significantly changed. In 2016, the dropout rate for ELL students was 6.6 percent, the highest rate of any subgroup of students and three times higher than the rate for all students. Additionally, only 64% of ELL students graduated from high school, as compared to 87% of all Massachusetts students.
In an effort to reverse these trends, the LOOK bill removes the current mandate requiring Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) as the one-size-fits-all default ELL program model in order to better accommodate the diverse needs of the Commonwealth’s students. Under the bill, school districts may choose from any comprehensive, research-based instructional program that includes subject matter content and an English language acquisition component.
The bill also encourages a high level parental choice and involvement in selecting, advocating, and participating in English learner programs, and requires greater tracking of ELL students’ progress to better identify and assist English learners who do not meet benchmarks.
This legislation also seeks to recognize the value of bilingualism and biliteracy as a skill essential to improving career and college readiness and competitiveness in today’s global economy by permitting school districts to adopt the state seal of biliteracy to recognize high school graduates who have met academic benchmarks, as determined by DESE, in one or more languages in addition to English.
The bill will now move to a conference committee, where negotiators will reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills.
By Seth Daniel
The United States House of Representatives passed an immigration bill in June that includes harsh penalties for self-declared Sanctuary Cities like Chelsea, and even though it has a long way to go in passing the U.S. Senate to become law, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he would be ready to go back to Federal Court to fight it.
“I’m hoping the Senate does not go ahead with that,” he said. “If the Senate does go ahead and it is signed by the president, I expect we’ll look at at filing another lawsuit for violation of the 10th Amendment. Hopefully, the Senate will be more reasonable. I’m going to worry about legislation that passes the House.”
The law that passed the House deals with many issues, but when it comes to Sanctuary Cities, it takes away all grant money from cities that self-declare as a Sanctuary City – as Chelsea does. That would likely mean steep losses for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), for public safety grants (police and fire) and for grants to the Public Schools.
Ambrosino said he doesn’t envision the law clearing the Senate and isn’t too worried about that happening, but did say if the Senate happened to approve the legislation, Chelsea would look at another lawsuit.
The City filed a lawsuit earlier this year with Lawrence when President Donald Trump issued his executive order penalizing Sanctuary Cities. That order was also challenged by several other municipalities, and a stay of the order was granted by a Federal Appeals Court in California. That stay also applied to Chelsea’s case, making the executive order moot.
However, the new legislation does take away one of the key arguments in Chelsea’s original case – that being the executive order actions weren’t authorized by legislation.
However, Ambrosino said he and the City’s lawyers still believe a 10th Amendment violation would be grounds for another suit if need be.
“Obviously, the fact that legislation exists would make that argument go away, but there are other arguments we made and one is that legislation would violate the separation of powers in the 10th Amendment.”
No new action has taken place on the House Bill since it passed in late June, but City officials are keeping close tabs on the Senate’s actions in relation to the Bill.
Senator Sal DiDomenico has been appointed by Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) to serve as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. This powerful Committee is responsible for putting together the Senate Fiscal Budget each year, and for vetting legislation concerning many key subjects. The position also gives Senator DiDomenico a seat on the Conference Committee that will negotiate the Legislature’s final budget.
“I am honored to have been appointed to this key leadership role,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico. “I look forward to working with Senate President Rosenberg, Chairwoman Spilka, and Committee members on many issues that are not only important to my constituents, but to the residents of the Commonwealth as a whole.”
His new leadership post represents a step up for the Senator from last session, when he served as Assistant Vice Chair of the Ways and Means Committee. He will also serve on the Joint Committee on Election Laws and on the Committee on Ethics.
Chelsea residents will go to the polls Tuesday (June 25) to cast their ballots in the U.S. Senate special election.
Two candidates, Congressman Edward J. Markey of Malden, who has served in the House of Representatives for 37 years and Garrett Gomez of Cohasset are vying for the Senate seat.
The winning candidate in Tuesday’s election will take over the Senate seat previously held by John Kerry, who left the position to become the Secretary of State. “Mo” Cowan has been serving as the interim U.S. Senator.
Elizabeth Warren is the Bay State’s other U.S. Senator, having been elected to the position last November. .
Members of the Markey for Senate campaign appeared to be
holding a campaign rally during the City’s Memorial Day ceremonies
in front of City Hall Monday. Overtly campaigning on
Memorial Day has long been an unwritten no-no in local politics
as it is a day reserved for more solemn activities.
The Markey for Senate campaign is facing questions this week over what appeared to be a sign holding event and campaign rally in front of City Hall during the start of the City’s Official Memorial Day Ceremony.
Largely considered to be a non-political day, Memorial Day has long been off-limits to overt campaigning by candidates and their supporters. In fact, for most candidates and incumbents, it has become Politics 101 to leave signs and rally cries at home and adopt a more subdued presence at Memorial Day ceremonies – which are considered sacred and solemn events to honor those who died in wars to preserve the country’s freedoms.
That’s why it came as a surprise to some – and infuriated a good number of Chelsea veterans organizations – when a group of about 30 or 40 sign holders began rallying on the sidewalk amidst the ceremonies with ‘Markey For Senate’ signs and ‘Markey For Senate’ buttons.
“That’s just not right,” said one City Official who wished to remain anonymous and said he was a Markey supporter. “That’s the kind of thing that brings down a campaign in the last days of an election run.”
It was equally surprising that such an event would be held at the Memorial Day Services considering Congressman Ed Markey (D-Malden) has been in Congress for decades and would likely know better than to break the unwritten rule of overtly campaigning at a Memorial Day service.
Markey Campaign Spokespersons told the Record that they had been invited by the Chelsea Girl Scouts to march in the Girl Scout Parade, and were only in front of City Hall to regroup and wrap things up after the parade.
However, no Markey supporters were observed marching in the parade, nor were any assembled at the parade’s starting point Monday morning.
“The Markey campaign was invited by parade organizers to participate in the parade, and so our volunteers marched in it, and then disbanded once it was over,” said Campaign Spokesman Andrew Zucker. “Ed Markey has the utmost respect and admiration for those who have served our country, and that’s why he’s fighting to fully fund the VA, cut down on unjustified wait times for veterans seeking assistance and ensure that our veterans can find good jobs when they’ve completed their service.”
A review of parade photographs did not immediately show any Markey for Senate entries marching.
City Manager Jay Ash said the campaigning was brought to his attention by some concerned citizens, but he did not consider it to be such a big deal.
“I’ve seen a number of similar standouts at parades and community celebrations over the years,” he said. “If we were at a graveside service, it would have been inappropriate, but we were in a public space, being City Hall, and we were celebrating the gift of freedom that our fallen heroes have given us. One of those gifts is campaigning; so, no, I wasn’t offended.”
Those who appeared to be in the campaign rally in front of City Hall stayed for about 30 minutes during the ceremony before leaving.
We congratulate U.S. Senate candidates, Congressman Edward J. Markey and Gabriel E. Gomez, on their impressive statewide victories in the Democratic and Republican primaries Tuesday. It was great to see our our former congressman, who has represented the district for 37 years, receive the highest vote total among all candidates in the city.
The attention of the electorate now turns to the Markey-Gomez final election scheduled for June 25. There should be some interesting debates along the way and we’re sure our residents – who take a backseat to no one when it comes to being in the know about state and national politics – will be closely following the developments on the campaign trail as Massachusetts fills the vacancy created by John Kerry’s appointment as Secretary of State.