Written by Christine Langhoff.
Christine is a lifelong Dorchester resident, a BPS grad, a mother to 3 BPS grads, and a BPS teacher who is happily retired after 36 great years teaching middle and high school students. She believes all students have a right to a fully funded public school education, and wants her neighbors’ kids to enjoy the same great education as she and her family have had.
About twenty years ago, Bill Gates got bored of torturing people with his Windows OS rollouts and turned his hand to fixing public education. Instead of paying taxes on the money he didn’t offshore, he set up a foundation and claimed those expenses as deductions.
That Gates knew nothing about public schools – he’d never attended one, never studied education (didn’t graduate college), never sent his kids to one – deterred him not at all. He knew it was bad and he knew what ought to be done. He funded a bunch of experiments, spending $2.3 billion promoting Common Core alone. There are tentacles that reach all across the nation’s public schools.
The Boston Compact is one of these tentacles. Here’s a press release from 2012. The deal for the Boston Compact was signed by Mayor Menino in 2011, but seemed to go dormant until Mayor Marty Walsh's administration. Now, we’re seeing it ramp up. Coincidentally:
And here’s the pitch for why we need the Compact:
Here’s the current homepage for The Boston Compact; you can see The Globe shilling for Unified Enrollment. The Compact wants to move @BostonSchools in a new direction, but it looks more like a one-way street.
On the other hand, here is the iconic BTU poster, saying “Everyone is Welcome Here”.
Think what everyone means:
When we say ALL, we mean ALL, which is how it should be, because that’s what it means to be “public”. That’s the mission. But it’s not the mission of the charters, nor of the Catholic schools. Those schools choose their students, either by limiting when/how they are admitted, not providing appropriate programming, or finding ways to move kids out if they’re not “a good fit”.
"Easy, Accessible, and Equitable"
A hallmark initiative of the Boston Compact is Unified Enrollment. On their website, Unified Enrollment is paired with a photo of Mayor Walsh and his call for an enrollment system that is "one application, one deadline, and one unified system." The City Council held a hearing on Home Based Assignments
on December 5, 2017; turns out that the report is four years overdue. Parents testified to their exasperation at such an opaque, time consuming process. Explanations from the School Department were rather lacking. Personnel in attendance also testified there was no discussion of Unified Enrollment at Bolling.
On December 2, bostonschoolfinder.org had a launch party, with BPS Chief of Staff Rob Consalvo and School Committee member Regina Robinson both in attendance. No mention was made of it at the hearing. $500,000 to support it comes from @BarrFdn, whose founder Amos Hostetter secretly donated $2,025,000 in favor of Question 2, as noted above.
It leaves this question: has the school department put a hold on the assignment process in anticipation of implementing “cross-sector” enrollment instead?
What does cross-sector mean, anyway?
What does BPS stand to gain from such “collaboration”? Charter facilities and charter enrollments are problems for charters to solve, not BPS.
Since state law makes Boston Public Schools responsible for charter transportation, of course we must work cooperatively. But charters need to mesh with BPS hours, not the other way around, if only because of the numbers. The data below is from 2015, when there were 4800 charter students. Now, there are some 9,000 charters students, so costs have risen and scheduling is more complex.
Additionally, it’s a fallacy that charter and Catholic schools have much to offer BPS teachers in the way of professional development. Neither charter nor Catholic schools are required to hire certified teachers. BPS teachers, in contrast, must be certified by the state and must obtain a Masters within 5 years.
What's On the Menu?
When my kids were young, I put a hot, nutritious meal on the table for dinner (most nights). Inevitably, someone would declare, “I’m not eating that!” The answer was, there’s Cheerios and bananas in the kitchen. Get a bowl.
Boston is widely seen as the best urban school system in the country and has set the educational table with a nutritious meal. If some don’t like what we’re serving, well, we’ve done our part. The city cannot afford to run several parallel systems of education.
Question 2 went down to an inglorious defeat in Boston. It passed in only 14 of 294 precincts – Back Bay, Beacon Hill, the West End; some might describe them as the hedge fund precincts. Voters in the rest of the city endorsed public education by a 2 to 1 margin. We demonstrated clearly we want fully funded public schools, not charters.
I’ve heard Marty Walsh justify this Compact by asserting we need to take responsibility for the education of ALL Boston’s children. Perhaps his thinking is colored by the fact that he never attended BPS.
The Mayor’s job is to fully fund, advocate for and protect the one system which serves every child. If he wants to make the case that we ought to replace our public system with charters, he had ample opportunity to do so in his re-election campaign. This he did not do.
It’s wrong for him now, in secret, to pull the levers of power he controls to engineer the destabilization and privatization of the oldest public school system in the nation.
“These millionaires and billionaires have never set foot in our schools. Voters clearly rejected charter expansion in Boston and across all of Massachusetts, yet this extensive illegal activity demonstrates that Baker and his allies’ active work to undermine our public education,” said Elica Hector-Varrs, a Boston Public Schools parent. Read more.
Sign the petition to hold Paul Sagan accountable for his involvement in illegal campaign activity.
At the same time the Boston School Committee voted on Wednesday to elect member Michael Loconto president of the mayor-appointed body, a parent group took to Facebook and Twitter to gauge support for an alternative: an elected committee.
By mid-Thursday, the poll showed support for an elected school committee was ahead of support for the current appointed system 190 to 17. Read more.
This blog hopes to disseminate information about Boston Public Schools and what goes on beyond your child's invidual classroom and its brick building.