Hey, there! Log in / Register

Parents, students and teachers move to counter charter expansion, BPS cuts

Berents-Weeramuni discusses the BPS budget

Berents-Weeramuni discusses the BPS budget.

They don't have $18 million in New York money, but some 300 pro-BPS residents and teachers said tonight they will run a robust campaign to protect Boston public schools by fighting proposals that would lift the cap on charter schools, meld charter and BPS enrollment systems and cut $50 million from the budget of the nation's oldest public-school system.

They gathered in a meeting at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School called by the Boston Education Justice Alliance (BEJA), an umbrella group that includes parent groups, teacher and other unions and groups that support public schools. City Councilors Tito Jackson (Roxbury), Tim McCarthy (Mattapan, Roslindale, Hyde Park) and Ayanna Pressley (at-large) also attended.

"We're up against millionaires" who want to privatize education, Johnny McInnis, president of the Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts, said. "We're seriously under attack right now."

BEJA Campaign Coordinator Marlena Rose said she found it amazing that BPS officials are looking to cut $50 million from school budgets even as city and state officials are planning $145 million in tax breaks and incentives for General Electric to move to this booming city.

Megan Wolf of the parent group Quality for Every Student said city plans to merge the application systems of local public and charter schools could hasten a BPS death spiral.

Charter schools will look more attractive to parents because they have higher test scores, and that will mean increased enrollment at those schools. But the test scores don't necessarily mean the schools are better, just that charter schools can game the system to some degree by either rejecting students who might score lower on standardized tests because they come to Boston in the middle of the school year and can use disciplinary practices that can be used to push out students, who then return to BPS - which not only has to take them, but which also has more students who need more help, because they have special education needs, are not native English speakers or are homeless, she said.

She added the Boston Compact, which is drawing up the proposal, is not subject to public-meeting or records laws - and is funded by the pro-charter Gates Foundation.

Heshan Berents-Weeramuni, co-chair of the Citywide Parents Council, said current BPS budget deliberations could further harm schools. He said that while Mayor Walsh has proposed a $13-million increase in the total BPS budget this year, BPS still has to cut up to $50 million from its budget because of negotiated salary increases and other new commitments.

Some 50 schools are facing tough decisions - Boston Latin School might have to cut the eighth-grade science it just restored (a BLS student at the meeting said the school, which requires students to take four years of Latin, is also considering cutting its college-level AP Latin class). The Boston Community Leadership Academy and the Snowden International School might have to cut their librarians, which could cost them their accreditation, he said. And all schools would see fewer visits from custodians and school nurses.

Neighborhoods: 
Free tagging: 

Ad:

Comments

How is a $13 million increase a $50 million cut?

Yes, I understand budgeting, but if I get a 1% pay raise, yet my expenses go up 3% or I incur some additional expenses, I don't say my pay was cut 2%.

up
Voting closed 0

Yes, you're technically correct. I'd say that parents call it a cut because it results in programs and services being cut. Sort of like how if you incur some additional expenses you might say that you had to cut something else out of your budget. Parents care much more about the net effect on the schools than whether it's due to increased expenses or an actual decrease in funding.

up
Voting closed 0

Agreed.

Also, if my salary goes up 1% when inflation is 3%, I do indeed treat it as a decrease. Difference is, I can start looking for a job somewhere else, while BPS is stuck with what they're given.

up
Voting closed 0

Inflation has been running about 2% for the last 10 years while the school department has been getting about 4% a year increases. In 2006 the head of the teacher's union said funding was barely sufficient - yet enough - to fund all their programs. Now they have effectively 20% more money for almost 10% fewer students (and many of those students are low cost Prek). So the question comes - where in God's name is all the money going if they've increased expenses per pupil by 2.5 times the rate of inflation FOR A DECADE while supposedly cutting services virtually every year according to BPS parents. How is that even mathematically and logically possible?

up
Voting closed 0

3% increase for teachers. Remember, there is a cap on the salary schedule. And teachers will never see a good year bonus that other fields receive.
Also, prek are not low cost. Children coming in at 3 are mostly children with special needs, though there are some k0 seats for nondisabled peers. Also class sizes at prek are smaller. You need a lower student to teacher ratio at this age for obvious reasons.

up
Voting closed 0

While people are clamoring over libraries and science classes or cuts to exam schools or high performing k-8 great feeder schools there are kids in 5th grade reading at 1st grade level and still passing year after year. I am utterly baffled how some folks out here who have more access to wealth and opportunity are going on and on about the BPS budget. Parents who are mainly white and/or affluent that claim to be concerned seem to only want to fight for their needs. If they took time to reconsider looking at the real #equitygap in BPS and funneled a portion of their wealth and political capital to advocate for increased funding for schools in low income communities than maybe I might be a bit more sensitive to their whining. But good lord to keep going on and on about what you are losing when you already have more to work with than others is a shame. As for the Boston Education Justice Alliance, Quest and others they are just a front for the unions who want to protect the jobs and continue disgrarding the needs and wants of students and parents. You can't say you are about improving schools until you are ready to accept the responsibility. You need longer school years, longer school days, free intense tutoring to truly educate our children. Most working families with limited income can't afford before or after school care ao if the unions who have joined forces with this group really cared about LOW WAGE workers they would be fighting for more achool hours instead of killing charter schools that offer working families longer school days. A blessing that most privileged affluent stay at home mom never have to contend with. Which leads to me my last rambling point, it seems to me that those who oppose extended time are usually more financially stable and/or support the BTU, BEJA and other anti charter grouos. Its all very interesting to see who truly has who's best interest in mind. ALL THIS TALK ABOUT MONEY... YOU GET MO MONEY EVERY YEAR AND YOU STILL WANT MO. I don't know how you all can sleep at night knowing how unjust your fight is. Low income communities are content with what they get unfortunately its their voice that is missing from all this hoopla. Everyone needs a reality check...

up
Voting closed 0

You make it sound like BLS parents want librarians at the expense of, say, programs at Madison Park (disclaimer: I am a BLS parent, although nothing the current budge wrangling won't affect me personally since the kidlet graduates this spring).

But just because you want to preserve what makes your school special doesn't mean you want to do it at somebody else's expense. The mayor's proposal, however, is forcing just that sort of thing, by effectively providing less money than last year, even as city coffers are starting to grow thanks to taxes from all the new construction coming online. He may have some grand, long-term scheme to cut costs by consolidating schools into a smaller number of larger buildings, but that's going to take several years in the meantime, which means a lot when you're talking about school kids.

up
Voting closed 0

Preserve what's "special" when others get their fair share too. Share the wealth. This reminds me of the bussing era. Now instead of race it's income. I have very little sympathy for the highly educated, two income household proud BPS parents who already have excellent options and still have the nerve to complain about toliet paper, supplies and instruction. You should be directing your energy towards those who are absorbing the budget instead of trying to take away options from families who are have limited resources. Most of these exam schools and are dominated by white affluent families many of which had the resources to send their kids to private school or paid top dollar for tutoring so their kids could pass the test. Many opted out of BPS or were lucky enough to live in a high performing district and gained entrance to a high quality k-8 feeder school. Please don't ignore or deny your privilege... you are fighting the wrong cause... I bet your kidlet will end up in a great college meanwhile other children will struggle in community college and spend their own money taking remedial courses just to catch up. It's disheartening the disregard from folks out here. Just simply sad.

up
Voting closed 0

You might want to start digging into the resources allocated to each school. I will grant you BLS has some advantages because of endowments from alumni (really), but the school doesn't get extra resources from BPS.

And frankly, you don't know what you're talking about when it comes to many BLS families. This Web site, which is our sole source of income, may look Super Fancy and Ritzy and all, but we are not high-income achievers; our daughter didn't get any ISEE tutoring and college is going to be financially difficult for us. We're hardly unique. Our daughter has been in BPS since kindergarten, so damn right I'm going to be concerned about the quality of the education she gets. Shame on any parent who isn't.

Again, you're playing a zero-sum game here; the goal shouldn't be to ruin what is working well, but to try to figure out how to apply that to schools that are struggling. It can be done - ask John Connolly about the Trotter School - but it takes money, and money's something that a) the city seems to be coming into and b) is being funneled out of BPS by charter schools that manage to dump many of their problem kids back into BPS.

up
Voting closed 0

for "the highly educated, two income household proud BPS parents who already have excellent options and still have the nerve to complain about toliet paper, supplies and instruction."

They're they ones who are actually improving the schools. They're sticking it out, fighting for educational opportunities for all kids instead of just their own, and yet at every turn they get told they don't belong in the school, if their kids don't like it they should just leave, that they're all a bunch of racists, etc.

Folks who get all righteous proletarian about the schools never seem to stop and think about whether what they really want is public schools or just poor people schools.

If what you'd like is for all the middle-class kids, or "white affluent families many of which had the resources to send their kids to private school," to leave the public schools, then public school, instead of being a place the entire population of America or of Boston might come together, will become just another poverty entitlement.

Fighting to kick middle-class kids out is not a tactic that will improve the public schools. You won't end up with a better share of the wealth. You'll end up with a sort of educational ghetto, no toilet paper, no supplies, and no instruction. Some might say we're halfway there already in Boston, and that's not something anybody should be proud about.

up
Voting closed 0

It's too bad that the reporter who wrote this article didn't reference the young people that were in attendance, including a young man who attends an in-district charter school. You can think that BEJA is a front for the BTU, but you're wrong. There are students and parents who are low-income and are part of BEJA too.

up
Voting closed 0

At least for the like of me.

A better talking point would be "even with a $13 million budget increase, the system is still facing a $50 million deficit." It's more realistic.

Stevil tends to make this point well, noting how increased health care and other costs are making the fiscal state of the city shaky.

up
Voting closed 0

Yes, the real story here is about increased costs. I wrote quite a bit about that in the other recent thread, but put that comment up so late that I don't know how widely it was seen. If you go by the numbers that BPS showed the school committee, it looks to me like it's much more about special education and ELL than health care. Hopefully the use of the word "cut" rather than "deficit" doesn't derail the discussion too much for too many people - getting appropriate funding into the schools (and I mean the schools, not necessarily the school department) is too important for the discussion to be about the semantics.

up
Voting closed 0

Do when you read posts from ckollett, He is by far the most informed person out here on the school budget and funding formulas - and that includes me. We differ on the point of how much is enough and neither of us quite understand how the schools get more money every year but it doesn't seem to remotely end up in the right places - but his posts are a great deep dive into school budgeting and you will always learn something.

So straighten up and listen kids!

up
Voting closed 0

While people are clamoring over libraries and science classes or cuts to exam schools or high performing k-8 great feeder schools there are kids in 5th grade reading at 5th grade level and still passing year after year. I am utterly baffled how some folks out here who have more access to wealth and opportunity are going on and on about the BPS budget. Parents who are mainly white and/or affluent that claim to be concerned seem to only want to fight for their needs. If they took time to reconsider looking at the real #equitygap in BPS and funneled a portion of their wealth and political capital to advocate for increased funding for schools in low income communities than maybe I might be a bit more sensitive to their whining. But good lord to keep going on and on about what you are losing when you already have more to work with than others is a shame. As for the Boston Education Justice Alliance, Quest and others they are just a front for the unions who want to protect the jobs and continue disgrarding the needs and wants of students and parents. You can't say you are about improving schools until you are ready to accept the responsibility. You need longer school years, longer school days, free intense tutoring to truly educate our children. Most working families with limited income can't afford before or after school care ao if the unions who have joined forces with this group really cared about LOW WAGE workers they would be fighting for more achool hours instead of killing charter schools that offer working families longer school days. A blessing that most privileged affluent stay at home moms never have to contend with. Which leads to me my last rambling point, it seems to me that those who oppose extended time are usually more financially stable and/or support the BTU, BEJA and other anti charter grouos. Its all very interesting to see who truly has who's best interest in mind. ALL THIS TALK ABOUT MONEY... YOU GET MO MONEY EVERY YEAR AND YOU STILL WANT MO. I don't know how you all can sleep at night knowing how unjust your fight is. Low income communities are content with what they get unfortunately its their voice that is missing from all this hoopla. Everyone needs a reality check... this isn't about YOU it's about doing what is right for the greater good. I don't know much about the budget but stevil seems to be the only leveled headed person on this thread.

up
Voting closed 0

Yeah an argument over semantics will work wonders for BPS I'm sure, to please random UHub commenters.

up
Voting closed 0

No, not 'technically' correct. Just correst.

up
Voting closed 0

Instead of "deficits" and "cuts," the issue schools look at is level funding. How much would it cost to maintain our school with the same staffing we have now? Because salaries and benefits costs increase every year, our costs increase every year. 95% of school budgets are salaries/benefits. But the rise in costs is (and has been lately every year) higher than the rise in revenue. That's where the shortfall comes in. We can't afford to keep our schools level funded, much less increase services, which all of us try to do to serve students better and better.

up
Voting closed 0

What seems to be overlooked is that the cost of running the schools increases yearly - repairs, heating, transportation, salaries and benefits, including health care. The $13 million figure represents those costs, and salaries, logically, are the largest of those costs. Remember, the rise in costs are subject to collective bargaining agreements, agreed to and authorized by the city.

The cut of $50 million, amounting to about $1000 per child, means doing more with less. After continually slicing off chunks of money, all one can do with less is - less. The real question is: In a city that is obviously enjoying a period of great affluence, why should those with the least have to make do with even less?

up
Voting closed 0

I wonder how many people outside of the system are aware that there are legally binding issues concerning the support for ELLs and Sped. Eventually the schools will get in trouble for failing to provide a free and appropriate education and the Fed will once again successfully sue them and force them into an ass-covering spending and training scramble.

Also, you wonder why it's hard for the BPS to attract and retain talent? Would you stay at a job where every year like clockwork your neck is on the line regardless of how a good a job you're doing?

up
Voting closed 0

Yep. ELL, SPED, and Behavioral/Mental health issues are required to be covered in a much more real and lawsuit-causing way than regular education, and they cost on the order of 3-4 times per pupil to provide. And since privates and charters are happy to snap up "normal" students and subtly or not so subtly screen/kick out difficult to shine kids, BPS has landed a disproportionate amount of the difficult cases in their population. Not to mention the poverty factor.

It's easy to look at the average per pupil amount and ask why the schools aren't doing as well as their suburban neighbors, but that average doesn't tell a complete story

up
Voting closed 0

I'll admit that I'm a little biased on this argument (married to a charter school educator/administrator), but: unless you have data to support this, I'm going to assume that you and the rest of the kneejerk brigade in here are talking out of your ass. Charter schools are not allowed to cherry pick, and the faintest hint that they are doing so is enough to get their charter pulled by the state at the next (triennial) renewal hearing. Seriously. If you think you know of a charter that's doing it, send a letter to the state DOE. If you can prove it, I guarantee that school will not be accredited in three years.

I don't think charters are a panacea, and am happy to discuss things like wage inequity among teachers, school hour demands on students, and the effects of siphoning education funds out of public schools. But the unquestioned assertion that charters are somehow able to ignore federal education law is so ridiculous that it's not even worth engaging.

up
Voting closed 0

Of course charters can't cherry pick who they admit.

But they can set up rules and policies that make it easy for them to dump kids who are disruptive and take up too many resources. I guess we can discuss how since they're expunged for behavior it's not REALLY targeting kids with sped needs but since you're close to an educator we both know the two are pretty intimately linked.

http://gothamist.com/2015/10/30/success_academy_charter.php

http://www.dignityinschools.org/blog/court-rules-charter-schools-can-dis...
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/nyregion/at-a-success-academy-charter-...

http://dianeravitch.net/2015/11/06/lawsuit-accuses-achievement-first-cha...

http://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/7/71/439091/disabilities-gr...

Maybe Massachusetts is somehow better

up
Voting closed 0

Both sides of the charter debate are prone to taking national anecdotes and acting as if they are totally applicable to Boston charter schools. As I've said many times previously, I think people underestimate the simple but effective filter which charter schools have which is just that parents have to give enough thought to their kids education to opt into a charter. From the get go, this filters out the legions of terrible parents out there who can't/won't do much to improve their kids lot in life. Of course, that would be eliminated with the universal application form, so it's interesting that the anti-charter folks are more against than that the charter schools.

My first hand experience is that Brooke charter school is willing to hold kids back who aren't ready to move up. However, I don't know if that's as prevalent in BPS at the higher grades as my kid was only in BPS until 2nd grade. I don't know if that's 'gaming' the system or not.

To play devils advocate for a moment, let's say this is all true and that charter schools are filtering out the 'problem' kids. If they are delivering a better free education to the Boston kids who attend, why is that a net bad thing for the city? No-one running the Brooke is getting rich or sucking money out of tax payers pockets as some sort of scam, I can guarantee you that. People act like charter schools are secretly teaching kids in Newton or something based on the rhetoric.

up
Voting closed 0

that is not based on "national anecdotes", Vaughn. It is a video of a City Council Education Committee hearing held last month in which teachers, students, attorneys, parents and other community members testified for over 3 hours about the charter push-outs that happen in Boston all the time, especially when MCAS/PARCC testing time approaches. Kids are counseled out of charters and return, defeated, to a local public school which must take them back. Many of these kids have IEPs. Have a look and a listen. http://www.cityofboston.gov/citycouncil/cc_video_library.asp?id=9931

up
Voting closed 0

What you're not saying is how many BPS schools do the same thing. I've seen many kids bounced from one BPS school to another. They just don't have to report it.

up
Voting closed 0

The city council hearing was a charter bash fest charter parents were not invited to the party. Most of the data shared was outdated and/or about Up Academy an in district charter.

Get the facts...

up
Voting closed 0

Um, city council meetings are open to the public. Yes there are often speakers who are requested to speak. The ones I've attended have slots that are for public comment. You sign up when you arrive. And trust me, Charter advocates have had there share of dominating meetings. Besides they seem to have plenty of money to spend on their charter views- what with the $18 million campaign effort planned. Maybe the Walton/Gates and Koch will kick in a few million more. Meanwhile BPS parents will be busy begging the Mayor to level funding.

up
Voting closed 0

There's a lot of moral arguments that are made about how pushing out the low performers to focus on low-but-savable kids is wrong, unequal access, etc. \

Personally I don't see a problem with it, or wouldn't if the whole charter system was more honest about it - it's essentially triage on a student body that's bleeding to death. Ensuring some kids get a good education is probably better for society in the very long haul than ensuring everyone gets a kind of ok education.

But there's a lack of frankness about the differences in population and then charters are used as political weapons against the public schools who are the ones left holding the remainders and being asked why they just can't do as well as charters.

up
Voting closed 0

I hear a lot about cherry picking but I notice no one ever questions the pilot, innovation and exam schools for their entrance practices.

As for the high performing k-8 feeder schools those are often reserved for the more informed, affluent white families.. so who's picking who?

What options are left for low income and students of color?

up
Voting closed 0

They used to give preference to minority students, but then a white lawyer in Hyde Park whose daughter didn't get into Boston Latin sued and won and that was that. Now, if you want to get into BLS, BLA or the O'Bryant, you have to get above a certain score on the entrance exam and have certain grades. Period. They're not like colleges looking to fill certain socioeconomic niches or giving a little bump to legacies or preferential treatment to particular politicians' kids.

Having said that, yes, BLS, at the least, is a lot whiter and a lot more east Asian than the BPS system as a whole (I don't know about BLA or the O'Bryant). That gets into a whole series of other issues involving the state of elementary schools in Boston. But let's not pretend the exam schools are scandal-ridden dens of corruption.

up
Voting closed 0

Read the Commonwealth's report by auditor Suzanne Bump. It's eye opening. The Department of Elementary and Secondary
Education’s Oversight of Charter Schools
http://www.mass.gov/auditor/docs/audits/2014/201351533c.pdf
DESE has not been regulating charters as it should; and charters as a whole are not as transparent in showing documentation on waitlists, servicing special needs learners, etc. You're naive if you think FAPE is being enforced for all children and charters are adhering to the guidelines of DESE. I believe the state has only closed 2 charters, even though more have not met the criteria or provided the documentation required.
Kevin Andrews is a cofounder of the Boston Compact, and the current Senior Advisor of the Boston Alliance of Charter Schools. He admitted charters haven't done much sharing of innovative practices with the public schools (one of the conditions), and didn't have real answers to the almost complete lack of services to children with severe special needs by charter schools. In fact he gave the commonly heard phrase "out of district placements" are where these children are mostly served. Most of these children ARE services in Boston in special programs by highly trained teachers. Charters are not doing this! How can he not know about FAPE and federal law for children with special needs? Misinformed or an easy out answer as to why charters are unwilling to serve students who present with high need and high cost education. Shameful.

up
Voting closed 0

Sorry I find your comments about poverty, native language learners and students experiencing high trauma offensive. Its like we are a burden on the system or like we are asking for a hand out?

I would rather spend money on high need students than librarians and science teachers for affluent middle class well to do students who's parents have more access to wealth and opportunity.

Have you ever thought to consider why so many poor black and brown parents opt for charter schools? If they were getting their needs met effectively at BPS they wouldn't leave . Why don't we fully fund education and spend more money on those who need it most and those who have can continue fundraising to improve their segregated schools.

Who is fighting for the right reasons?

up
Voting closed 0

I guess I should have listened to all of you when you told me John Connolly would be a bad mayor for the public schools. Now look what he's d ... wait, what?

PS. Why is the BPS the most-expensive (per student) school system in the country?

https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2015/cb15-98.html

up
Voting closed 0

Very expensive!

That's why Boston has the highest proportion of school age children attending public schools of any metropolis in...
wait a sec..

The nationwide proportion of school kids attending private school is 10% and declining. The city of Boston itself sends 26% (and rising) of our kids out of the BPS. We're in company with New Orleans.

All that money and BPS still fails to serve more than a quarter of the city.

up
Voting closed 0

makes it OK to underserve the 75% of children who do attend Boston Public Schools? People can make any choices they want for their children and given the wealth factor in the city, we know that rich people will send their kids to pricey private schools. It sucks that we have a mayor and a school committee who aren't down at the State House regularly demanding that the legislature follow through on state public education funding, which has continued to fall dismally short and disproportinately benefits charters.

up
Voting closed 0

I don't think it would be accurate to say that the 26% of Boston's school-age children who don't attend BPS are all rich. Ten percent, maybe - like elsewhere in the country. But on top of that you have another 15% whose parents are sending them out of district by hook or by crook, sometimes to private schools at great financial suffering, sometimes sending them to parochial school even though they're not Catholic.

The 26% who aren't served by BPS, furthermore, would be much cheaper to educate on average than the kids who stay in BPS. Alienating a growing share of the population chases away primarily kids who test at grade level and don't have educational problems, while concentrating the disadvantaged population and the learning-disabled in the public schools.

The choice by BPS to ignore and alienate a substantial proportion of Boston's population negatively affects the kids who have no other choice. It would be a better choice to try to involve more mainstream and middle-class families.

up
Voting closed 0

can be used to push out students, who then return to BPS - which not only has to take them, but which also has more students who need more help, because they have special education needs, are not native English speakers or are homeless, she said.

Autism specialists and speech pathologists and sending students to private facilities where they can be put in a hold when they bite teachers all aren't cheap.

up
Voting closed 0

Yes, Boston is fortunate relative to other urban districts. I'm not really going to argue that. But I don't think it's fair to use that link to say that "BPS the most-expensive (per student) school system in the country."

First, that's only looking at the top 100 districts (by enrollment) in the country, and doesn't adjust for need, cost of living, etc. If you look at every district in Massachusetts, Boston is 49th out of 325 districts. If you adjust that by need (and a couple of other things), Boston drops to 184th in the state (sort by Actual NSS Percent Above Foundation). If you believe that the foundation budget is underestimating special education costs, I imagine we'd drop even lower.

I really don't want to get into yet another BPS is overfunded/underfunded debate. There's a ton going on here. Budget-wise, BPS is doing well relative to a bunch of districts - even with the budget shortfalls we have every year BPS isn't referred to as being in a "financial meltdown" the way that, for example, Chicago's public schools are. At the same time, BPS does have some legitimate funding challenges that I think are generally overlooked when you just look at raw figures like the one in that census department link.

up
Voting closed 0

The 49th out of 325 - Its more like Boston is 6th when vocational-technical schools and small districts with small classrooms are excluded. The other 5 have lots of money either from a wealthy community or lots of commercial property to tax. Your bogus stat is not using comparables.

up
Voting closed 0

You're right that I didn't take the time to remove vocational/technical. Sorry, it wasn't meant to be deceptive, and you're right to point out that nuance.

I'll still argue that the original claim that BPS is "the most-expensive (per student) school system in the country" is at least as bogus as what I wrote, and leaves out just as much nuance.

up
Voting closed 0

I really don't want to get into yet another BPS is overfunded/underfunded debate.

You clearly understand the BPS budget more so than most people posting on here, particularly those who fall back on the same tropes about 'average amount of money spent per pupil' ad nauseam as if that's a legitimate stand-alone truth.

up
Voting closed 0

Urban school districts in the country. It takes a lot of money to do that, but they are one of the best, so it appears to be money well spent.

up
Voting closed 0

But keep metal detectors, cops, street workers, lawyers in the schools along with millions of dollars
spent on school buses and transportation costs. There is something wrong with the Boston Public Schools.

up
Voting closed 0

There are things wrong with BPS. We can debate forever what those things are. A lack of money is not one of those problems. See John Keith's awesome post. Outside proof of what I've claimed for years. BPS is the wealthiest large school system in the US which I'll venture a guess makes them the wealthiest on the planet. And yet they are broke. Go figure.

up
Voting closed 0

GE is moving to town, wooed by tax breaks, helipads and an array of additional benefits including ...assistance finding child care and schools. Meanwhile the feds and Gov. Baker have left the budget for Boston Public Schools with a deficit of $50 million. Those folks moving from Fairfield are going to need assistance finding schools for their kids.

What happens to the "educated workforce" that GE is hoping to find in Boston when we refuse to fund public education?

up
Voting closed 0

They're not talking about public schools. You don't need help finding those, unless the question is what suburb to move to.

up
Voting closed 0

Boston is holding the bag for the GE property taxes forgiven "while.. chronically underfunding its
schools"

I was surprised to learn GE ruled out some competing cities because their public schools.

The deal Baker and Walsh made is a "very bad deal" economically speaking:

“While Boston is chronically underfunding its schools and Massachusetts is looking at a billion dollar hole for next year's budget it might make more sense for GE to be giving money to the government. The only hope is that since GE doesn't really deign to pay state taxes anyway so that the incentives which are based on state income taxes won't ever be used. That leaves Boston holding the bag for the property taxes forgiven as part of the horrendous TIF."

That blog post is written by Ben Tafoya. He has his Doctorate from Northeastern University, and MBA from Suffolk University and a BA in Economics from Georgetown University.

up
Voting closed 0

that GE is hiring is recent college grads who receieved excellent primary and secondary educations at private schools or top public school districts in ritzy suburbs of Boston, DC, New York, San Francisco, and LA.

Kids who go to run-of-the-mill no-name schools aren't on companies like GE's scout list, unless they're recruiting for receptionists and janitors.

up
Voting closed 0

AS a lifelong 48 year old resident of Boston and one who experience BPS, it is clear to me it is always going to be a shitshow. I come from a long line of teachers who can't teach anymore. There is too much classroom disruption and their hands are tied when it comes to discipline. I had my eye on one great charter school in Boston and my son actually got in. The biggest appeal to me was the fact that it is 100 percent discipline which allows my child to learn and have his brain challenged. Every child needs a fair shot at education but the child that loses out in BPS is the child that does not have a need or qualifies for Latin. My child would lose out in BPS because he is a good student that can focus and understand boundaries. Charter school advocates keep throwing out the word discipline like it is a bad thing. So yes, I am putting this out there - splat - I would like to advocate for my child who has no special requirements but is entitled to actually learn and be challenged in an atmosphere that is not disruptive. He does not deserve to be in a classroom with a kid kicking over a chair, other kids dancing about the room etc. Yes the kid kicking over the chair and the kid dancing in the class deserve their needs to be met too, but not at my child's expense. The charter school my child is in has driven my child to learn more than I ever though possible, has instilled personal responsiblity in him etc. It is strict, it is hard and my child deserves every minute of it. He may someday go on to become a doctor that cures a disease, a politician that fixes the country (lol) etc. And he and other kids like him deserve this education in order to become citizens of the future that can help keep the world together. Again, I have lived here a long time, simple things are not allowed to be in place anymore that would help good teachers in BPS actually teach but they can't , too much disruption. Sorry, not at my kids expense.

up
Voting closed 0

...then why won't your child encounter just as many of those disruptive kids in his new classroom? And what does "100% discipline" mean, btw?

up
Voting closed 0

The charter my kid attends is more likely to remove the disruptive kid from the class to go meet with an administrator. Whereas at the previous BPS k-5, the standard procedure was that the rest of the class needed to wait to go to lunch, recess, etc... until the disruptive kids had been dealt with by the teacher. There's also stuff like excessive violations lead to a loss of recess privileges or field trips, etc... Similarly, if you don't finish your homework, you have to miss recess to finish it, etc... I don't know how that is dealt within BPS at this grade level so YMMV.

It's not exactly 50s Catholic school in our experience. Most of these kids have been attending the school for years though so they are aware of the expectations. I don't think BPS is as effective at enforcing their behavior standards and expectations, including expectations of parental support.

up
Voting closed 0

Dear Peggy,
This caricature of children that attend BPS is inaccurate and unfair. I have two children and last year each completed 4 years in a charter and 9 years in BPS. In neither system did we see the sort of massive disruption that your rant implies. Were there children that had challenges - yes - and the teachers handled it in a professional manner using all kinds of techniques. The difference with the charters is a reliance on an elaborate system of merits and demerits/ punishment for even small violations of the rules. Some made no sense, like having a kid call their parent to report that they were too chatty at lunch, or refusing a bathroom pass. Parents in many instances received multiple phone calls, texts, emails and if the child had detention had to switch schedules to pick him or her up late because they will miss the school bus. If you are working a low-wage job where you may get few if any scheduled hours the choice is likely between keep your job and keeping your child in that school. Not surprisingly, many leave because of the hassle factor or they are encouraged not to stay.

Quite honestly from your post, and lack of details, I even question whether you have a child and if so whether your child attended or attends a charter school. You write of "charter school advocates" as if this does not apply to you.

I have not lived here as long as you, but I've walked the halls of my kid's BPS school in Dorchester (90% low-income), sat in classrooms and come away with an enormous amount of respect for the work teachers do.

up
Voting closed 0

I briefly (one BPS semester) worked in a program staffed by an outside organization in a BPS school. Many of the kids were great kids! But when it would come time to line up and take attendance, or line up wait for the teacher to take them back to class, kids were running around, climbing the steps, jumping around, yelling, talking over the teacher, dancing, singing, and fighting. Only a few of the kids were true behavior problems, but had a general lack of age appropriate executive function skills. (I am sorry, but a neurotypical 11 year old should be able to stand still and listen to directions for 2 minutes without dancing, singing, clapping, or jumping.) If we played games, kids would be pushing, shoving, and cheating, well above the age where it was appropriate (again, 10-11 years of age.)

If we asked any of the kids to stop, they simply ignored us. Their teachers ignored their behavior, for the most part (saying things like, "Please talk quietly while I'm talking," instead of "No talking while the teacher is talking.) This seriously cut into learning time, because giving basic directions or doing simple housekeeping took five or ten minutes instead of one or two.

I felt bad for the kids who were being held to such a low standard of behavior. Who is going to employ a 16 year old who dances and claps hands during an interview? What professor would serve as an internship reference for a student who can't be quiet during lecture and climbs over railings in the lecture hall?

These kids were mostly capable of more, and most of the adults working with them seemed to feel they were lost causes. It was sad.

up
Voting closed 0

From a journalism angle, I think this paragraph is kind of odd:

"Charter schools will look more attractive to parents because they have higher test scores, and that will mean increased enrollment at those schools. But the test scores don't necessarily mean the schools are better, just that charter schools can game the system to some degree by either rejecting students who might score lower on standardized tests because they come to Boston in the middle of the school year and can use disciplinary practices that can be used to push out students, who then return to BPS - which not only has to take them, but which also has more students who need more help, because they have special education needs, are not native English speakers or are homeless, she said."

Only at the end is it clear that this is an extended quote of an opinion giver vs the writer/reporter well, reporting researched facts. This lends the air of truth to some pretty commonly presented anti-charter talking points. I accept that what is being alleged happens to some degree at some schools, but this makes it seems like an accepted truth whereas reality is way, way more nuanced.

up
Voting closed 0

(BEJA), an umbrella group that includes parent groups, teacher and other unions

In other words, the usual suspects: union teachers and other unions. And parents who have yet to get their kids into a charter school. Talk about blaming the victim - this is like the captain of the Titanic demanding that passengers get away from the lifeboats to avoid blame for the sinking ship.

You want to improve education in BPS - break the teacher's union, once and for all. There's a start.

up
Voting closed 0

plenty of parents, grandparents and other involved community members lastnight at the meeting who are not members of the teachers union so please stop with the broad brush. Many of us are happy with the public schools our children are attending and are not waiting for charter admission. So easy to stereotype people with different viewpoints.

up
Voting closed 0

Clearly you weren't at the meeting last night. It's also unfortunate you are making gross assumptions without learning more about what is really going on. I attended as both a parent and a special educator in the Boston Public Schools. A parent who is NOT waiting to get into a charter school. It was a well attended meeting by those who are stakeholders- students, parents, teachers and community members. As I looked around I noted several city councilors and a few BPS administrators in attendance. This was a meeting to talk about what is happening to the oldest public school system in the U.S., and what we can do about it as a unified voice who believes every child deserves a worthwhile education in a safe, positive learning environment by educators who have the resources, supports and materials.
I left a job in a wealthy suburb and took a $20k pay cut to teach in the Boston Public Schools. Why? Because I believe in public education! I wanted to teach in my community, and I believe children with special needs- whether ELLs, those with autism, and those with low incidence disabilities like visual impairment, deafness, multiple handicaps- need teachers who will provide an education allowing them to learn skills to be as independent and successful as possible when they leave the system. Charters admit they underserve these populations or don't serve them at all. Of the ELLs who are in charters, they are mostly students who have been here for several years and do not need as much support as newly arrived immigrants. As for special needs programs, I have not yet heard of any charter with substantially separate classrooms, autism classrooms, or programs for those who are multiply handicapped. These students, along with ELLS, are the costliest students to educate.
Without the state legislature and federal government voting to reimburse the district the agreed to $18,000,000 for charter schools monies, increasing chapter 70 funding, or the city committing to fund its school to serve all students, BPS will struggle. And don't try to compare apples to oranges on per pupil spending. Boston has higher numbers of immigrants, poverty and special needs students than almost all those other districts.
Are there areas to cut back on? Yes! But don't ask these schools without working water fountains, toilet paper, not enough textbooks, in buildings with peeling paint, that don't meet ADA requirements and have dead spots for Internet access to cut already bare bone budgets.
Spend a day with a teacher and I think you'd have a greater appreciation for educators and the BPS.
More info:
https://www.masc.org/images/news/2015/20151013_MASC_Charter-Schools_Who-...

up
Voting closed 0

Last week, me and two of my students went to the well-attended meeting at Madison Park High School, a well as a meeting held on the same day, at the same time, on the same issues, headed by BPS and Mayoral staff in the Bolling Building. Several groups who claim they have the parents and students in mind have been pitted against each other by larger economic and political forces. At stake are the lives and futures of our children and communities, big bucks and corporate interests.
On Monday January 18, 2016 many will remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. but the MLK many recall is a white-washed, watered down version of the radical activist that Dr. King really was.
The 8am Breakfast including Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator Ed Markey, and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey held at the Boston Convention center commemorated a palatable, version of a civil rights icon who was villified and persecuted by the likes of the same people receiving accolades and speaking opportunities now.
Black Lives Matter Boston and BLM throughout the country this weekend sought to Reclaim MLK as the true revolutionary he was and not as the current narrative from the mass media or school curriculums would brainwash us into believing. The powers that be want us to be satisfied with the past Civil Rights Movement and election of President Obama while more People of Color are incarcerated than people in chains during slavery. They want us to be anesthetized with sitting anywhere on the bus, admission to schools, and cubicles next to Caucasian co-workers, Black millionaires and the illusion of inclusion.
Martin Luther King, Jr. believed strongly in public education and equal access to a quality education for Black and Brown students as did Malcolm X. Though Malcolm and Martin's theological perspectives and political strategies were different their objectives were the same; freedom for African Americans and People of Color.
The Reclaim MLK protests are a call to "Stay Woke" to the fact that Boston is #1 in Income Inequality in the United States, millions of service workers don't earn a liveable wage, thousands of Black Teachers and Administrators have been eliminated from teaching in schools where the majority of students are Black and Brown, corporately owned and operated prisons are fueled by the school-to-prison pipeline, and that All Lives will Matter will Matter when Black Lives Matter!
In the words of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Black Lives Matter! Black Teachers Matter!
Sharon Hinton, Founder
Black Teachers Matter

up
Voting closed 0