Our reader Christine Langhoff writes about the current crisis in public education in Boston:
To use the common idiom, Boston is “woke”!
Parents, teachers and allies of public education protested on a frigid January night outside the mayor’s State of the City address. A few days earlier, 350 teachers, parents and students attended an informational town hall during the evening, as the issues of the hidden McKinsey report were publicly aired. There was another rally on February 17, during school vacation week.
Some 3400 students walked out of their classes on March 7 and went to City Hall and the State House to demonstrate after rallying on Boston Common. Some of them testified at the State House against the lifting of the charter cap. This was a student led and organized protest, which the mayor tried to dismiss with the classic “outside agitators” line. On March 17th, a group of parents, following the students’ lead, demonstrated outside City Hall, demanding the release of the report.
There have been a series of public hearings on the city’s budget, all of which are very well attended. A coalition of parents, educators and students are all on the same side of this argument, and though progress has been slow, we are not discouraged. Up next is walk-in day on May 7.
Much of this is organized on social media. In addition to the parents’ group QUEST, BEJA, Boston Education Justice Alliance http://bostonedjustice.org and the student groups YOUNG and BSAC http://www.youthonboard.org as well as Citizens for Public Schools are working together to keep our schools. The Boston Teachers Union has taken a page from our fellow unionists at the Chicago Teachers Union, allying with and supporting all these groups.
The question that has not been answered is why cuts to the budget, decreasing services to our SWD, and diminishment of offerings for students (closing high school libraries!) is necessary. Boston is in the midst of an unprecedented building and real estate boom; tax receipts are up by $95 million this year alone. (Massachusetts weathered the 2008 catastrophe pretty well.) We’re ranked number one (for what it’s worth) in urban school systems. What pretext is there for closing 30-50 schools? None.
But here’s the scenario we’re up against:
No elected school board, appointed by the mayor (since 1993)
The mayor founded a charter school
The superintendent is a Broadie
More parasites from TFA, TNTP, StudentsFirst are being hired at the school department
86% of our students aren’t white; most of them are poor and nearly half have English as a second language.
The governor wants more charters
The state board of ed is appointed by the governor
The state board is a cabal of privatizers from HGSE, the Pioneer Institute, New Schools Venture Fund
The former PARCC chairman is the state Commissioner
Walton is pouring money into the city
DFER sponsored successful candidates in the most recent election
Boston is a signatory to the Gates CRPE contract
The mayor and superintendent want One Enrollment
It’s an uphill battle and we can’t afford to lose.