Joe Beckmann

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Former instructor at Dillard, UMass-Amherst (ed), and Emerson; semi-retired. Involved in developing e-portfolios at Somerville High School, an intensely urban school with 52 languages and 1241 kids serving a small (70,000 people, 4 square miles) Boston formerly industrial suburb. Watching kids teach kids beats any other kind of retirement. Now also involved in redesigning that school, to incorporate collaboration with local colleges and incubators, as well as in creating other tools to "harness gentrification" in a community where housing inflation was 29% last year alone.

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The school system is beginning the process of building a new High School, equidistant from Tufts, Harvard, MIT, and Lesley Universities, and immediately adjacent to a new subway station being built at the same time. The construction budget of $259,000,000 for a school this size is controversial, and locally coincides with a state wide initiative to lift the cap on Charter Schools which would sharply reduce enrollment (and change cost-per student ratio of $220,000, which is already twice the rate of the most expensive school built in Massachusetts). So, there are ... controversies. Given that Somerville hosted Jobs for the Future for two decades, and their Early College High School models, as well as YouthBuild's national headquarters, those controversies hit close to home.

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