Education issue pushes one voter to Consalvo

Googiebaba had planned to try to interview everybody running for mayor this year, but after watching the debate on education the other day, she decided to vote for City Councilor Rob Consalvo because he's one of three candidate opposed to lifting the cap on charter-school seats and the one she thinks has the best shot of winning.

It has become clear to me in the last few weeks that corporate education reformers have Boston in their crosshairs. They are locked and loaded and ready to orchestrate a take over of the Boston Public School System. ...

I wanted someone who would resist handing the keys to BPS over to Walmart AND I wanted someone who could win. I am eager to join a campaign and show the corporate education reformers that you can’t just waltzed into Boston and take over our schools.

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Waltz in?

Know what you're saying (and agree in principle, but not necessarily with the candidate choice). But I wouldn't characterize it as corporate education reformers "coming in" to Boston when the friggin Boston Foundation is leading the charge. This is a homegrown movement which could do to our public education system what local urban planners of the past did to the West End.

Bull...

...oney. Charters in Boston work. This is a nothing but the BTU defending their fiefdom with no regard for the thousands of students who CHOSE these schools over BPS and are thriving.

At some point the mayor is going to have to go all Ronald Reagan on these people and air traffic control these thugs.

"Charters in Boston work"

Sure, but for whom?

I don't like the idea of public unions. The people should not have to organize against the people just to get fair treatment for the people who serve the people. However, when I look at the current political atmosphere, I can't help but understand the need for a public union. Some of us are just total assholes and have no concept of what it takes to be a teacher, emergency worker, or dreaded generic "government worker".

I'd rather err on the side of the teacher than "the budget" (which these days is usually just code for "I don't want to pay a fair share for a functional society...screw you, I got mine").

Even if you could demonstrate that charter schools in Boston have worked, there is still a greater problem that we must consider outside of our own little bandbox. Boston may have made charter schools work because of a climate, laws, attitude, or potentially even manipulation/customization of the "charter school" model that makes it work less for the company and more for the students/teachers. However, places like Florida are continually seeing their education system being destroyed by "charter schools" while the advocates point at us and say "see, it works!" knowing that without the same culture/rules/gestalt they will make money hand over fist and leave the area worse for its primary education.

You see? A company can afford to put out a demo at a cost that they will never recover from it, if they know it means that 10 other people will buy it speculating how great they'll look sitting in it...not realizing that the real thing is more complicated and will end up in their attic.

Charter schools are there because parents want them

If charters are so bad why are parents choosing them over regular publics?

The charters are there because they are the only way to get regular public schools to change.

People who opposed charters pretty much don't want public schools to change. Lots of people in Boston are working at the schools whether as administrators, teachers or workers, and they don't want to be measured by results because that would mean working harder.

People send their kids to

People send their kids to charters because too many of their child's peers in their particular neighborhood options are "instigators." If BPS could somehow get rid of these kids charters would suddenly lose their popularity because the quality of teaching isn't as good (this has been shown in multiple studies - the most recent one out of Stanford). The only reason charters tend to perform better in certain urban/poor environments is because you get one or two sociopathic kids in a classroom and they drag down everyone's performance (because teachers are forced to spend more time on discipline than teaching). Charters don't have that particular problem because they typically don't attract parents of these kids and if they do get one or two of them, they just send them back to BPS.

First off, referring to

First off, referring to teachers at "thugs" is ridiculous and says a lot about you and your point of view.

To expand on the points Kaz made:

The students that wish to attend Charter Schools are going to be ones that already have an above average motivation to do well academically and generally have a higher level of parental support in pursing that goal.

So it's hardly surprising that a charter school posts better test numbers when you have a smaller percentage of behavior issues, non-native English speakers, and special needs students than a normal BPS.

I think we should provide an avenue for highly motivated, quality students. However, the idea that test scores tell the story is false.

Here's the problem from the teachers point of view. You can't compare test scores between a charter and regular class to gauge performance because it's apples and oranges. A highly motivated, low discipline issue class cannot be compared to a poorly motivated, high discipline issue class. The charter school gets the cream of the crop and sends kids with behavior issues and poor academics back to the regular public schools. So of course the charter schools have better test scores.

I read just fine

You wrote:

"This is a nothing but the BTU defending their fiefdom with no regard for the thousands of students who CHOSE these schools over BPS and are thriving."

BTU = Boston Teachers Union which is made up of, and represents Boston teachers. You didn't even mention "Put man" or make any effort to differentiate BTU leadership from the teachers.

Then you closed with:

"At some point the mayor is going to have to go all Ronald Reagan on these people and air traffic control these thugs."

Referring to Regan's firing of the air traffic controllers means firing unionized workers that are striking. Regan fired over 11,000 striking workers. Any person aware of the reference realizes you are talking about striking workers (which in this case would be teachers), not union leadership. Whether you meant to or not, you called the teachers "thugs".

Either you are inept at actually communicating what you actually meant, or you realize you stuck your foot in your mouth and are backtracking.

Right here

This is a nothing but the BTU defending their fiefdom [ ...]
At some point the mayor is going to have to go all Ronald Reagan on these people and air traffic control these thugs.

I read it the same way, so did several other people here. You can play the "I didn't say TEACHERS" game, but that is clearly implied by what you wrote.

Perhaps you should write more carefully.

I wrote it specifically to refer to certain people

And I wrote it very carefully and make SPECIFIC reference to the BTU meaning the organization (i.e. its leader Putzman) - not the rank and file teachers - knowing that some people would come out here and accuse me of calling all teachers thugs if I weren't specific about referring to the union. The union leaders are the thugs (some of whom I believe are indeed active teachers).

Bottom line - the BTU is taking stances that hurt students (like insistence on more pay for longer school days even though they already enjoy one of the most generous pay packages per hour of classroom time in the country and longer school days is one of the few things most agree is a secret of many successful charters). BPS already has "in district charters". If they are as good as the other charters - why are the parents still lining up to go to out of district charters? It has nothing to do with money - both schools are free and the charters I'm familiar with pale in comparison when it comes to funding. At least here, I don't see any evil corporations getting rich off of the charters that operate on a relative shoestring.

If charters work (and ample evidence indicates that in Boston they do for whatever reason) then BPS has to offer a competitive solution that serves the parents and students - who can, will and do vote with their feet. I personally don't care if BPS does end up with 10,000 problem students and the rest go to charters in or out of district - if the other 50,000 can do better in that program. This is not a silly sporting event - this is about helping kids reach their fullest potential. Anyone opposed to offering students opportunities to thrive is an evil thug. My opinion based on conversations with people I trust that have worked in BPS is that generally doesn't extend to the vast majority of rank and file who pay their dues but keep their heads down and noses out of BTU business while working within a flawed system that they can't change. But if they do, then yes I confess - I'm calling them thugs for holding up the development of a child for their own benefit. Anyone that does that can rot in hell.

Please

I walked you through the logic of your original post. Doubling down and insisting it doesn't imply what it does makes one question whether you are discussing this in good faith.

You then go on to say that teachers are hurting students by demanding to be paid for working extra hours. The Horror! You do realize that working additional hours for the same pay is a PAY CUT right? They must be child hating monsters to want to be treated as a professional!

Seriously

What more do you need - I told you - if we had a difference of opinion as to what "BTU" meant to each of us, I am simply clarifying that I was quite specifically referring to the organization and its upper hierarchy - which is what it implies to me - not rank and file teachers. Case closed.

And if you have any understanding of how the budget works, you know full well (as certainly does the teacher's union) that there are only two ways the city can afford to pay the teachers more a) find a new revenue stream - good luck! or b) take it from somewhere else - cops, firefighters etc. They know that more pay for extra class time is a non-starter.

Keep in mind that the pendulum has swung one way for a long time to the point that BPS teachers make more per classroom hour than virtually every other teacher in this state and the country. Adding 30-40 minutes to the school day has been shown to significantly improve learning - it's a goal we all have to work for. If you want to negotiate to cut other responsibilities to make time for this if the teachers really are already working 9-10 hour days as I frequently read in the comments sections - that's fair. But arguing for more financial blood from a stone that's fully bled is not - and it's doubly not fair when it involves helping underprivileged urban youth. The mayor needs to go all Ronald Reagan on anyone that stands in the way of that objective. As you say the teachers are professionals - not laborers. Professionals work, myself included - often at little or no extra pay - until the job is done, not until the bell rings.

How about admitting that what

How about admitting that what you wrote did not convey your actual meaning. I'm not the only one that read your comment as insulting teachers. You can't poorly construct your comment and then blame the reader for the misunderstanding. You didn't "quite specifically" refer to BTU leadership. We aren't mind readers.

I'm glad you calmed down and are finally discussing this without using pejoratives.

You're smart enough to know that virtually no teacher works just "until the bell rings". A high school English teacher has to grade over 100 papers for every assignment. They spend hours outside of actual class time a week on grading and lesson planning. Trust me, every teacher wishes their work day ended when the bell rings.

You agree they are professionals, except you lay a moral judgement on teachers because they don't want to add another 5-6 mandatory hours to their work week with no extra compensation. Teachers have families and other responsibilities too. Most choose teaching because it's a personal calling, but it's still a job. If it's that important, the citizens can find the money or as you said reduce their non-classroom responsibilities. The teachers are already busting their ass to teach these kids, and people like yourself don't seem to respect that very much.

By all means though, keep insulting teachers and painting them as bad guys because they won't just say yessir to working harder for the same pay. The cream of the crop will decide they've had enough and leave to teach in the suburbs.

Now I have to go Ronald Reagan on you

There you go again. Putting words in my mouth - when I think of "BTU" the first image that pops into my mind is Richard Stutman and his faceless and anonymous henchpeople. For some reason to you - and perhaps others - when you say BTU the image of a third grade teacher learning some little kid the three R's pops into your head. From my perspective it was perfectly clear what I was referring to but not to yours. We've clarified that.

As for the rest you've just made my argument for me. Teachers across the country and I think in most of the rest of the state (even in expensive areas to live) make less money, spend more time in the classroom and still manage to grade those 100 papers. End of the day, there are only so many hours in the day. How is it that virtually every other teacher in the state and country (including many charter school teachers who do it for a fraction of the cost) manage to do it, but we can't here in Boston?

If even in the burbs the teachers have more classroom time responsibility and at least on average make a lot less than BPS teachers, do you really think the cream of the crop will leave for more work and less money? Maybe to escape inner city problems, but otherwise I don't see it.

And for the record - every person I've spoken too about BPS on multiple levels says that the rank and file teacher in Boston by and large does a GREAT job under often tough conditions. I've never had kids in the schools so I go under the assumption that's true. My beef is squarely with the system (the union being a part of that) - not the individual teachers.

Humpty Dumpty

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

If you increase hours with no pay increase, you are going to bring compensation in line with the suburbs. Once you have parity in pay with the suburbs, there is no incentive for good teachers to put up with BPS inner city issues.

Does that Make Sense?

This is an interesting point but I think that keeping down the amount of instruction time just to provide an incentive for teachers to stay in Boston is not the answer. The answer, it seems, would be to increase teacher pay along with the school day/year or to make up for it in some other way. Alternatively, if the "inner city issues" boil down to having lots of kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds who need support beyond what a teacher would "typically provide" why not put more resources into social workers, etc. and reduce the burden of those "inner city issues" for the teachers. The status quo is not good enough. The kids need more school.

Actually, that's not true

Interestingly enough, a set of Harvard and MIT professors did a study that compared charter lottery "losers" and "winners" to show that, in fact, the whole "charter kids do better because they're more motivated and have parents who are involved enough to send them to charter schools" argument is not true at all.
They compared the educational results of students who were lottery "losers" - that is, students whose parents entered them into the charter school lottery, but who didn't receive seats - and those who are "winners" - who were lucky enough to receive seats in the charter lottery. This methodology therefore entirely accounts for motivation - there's no difference in parental involvement or motivation between these groups, as the lottery is random. The result? The gap between lottery "winners" and "losers" is real, sizable, and comparable to the gap between lottery entrants and other BPS students.
The idea that charter schools only succeed because parents are more involved is demonstrably untrue. Our charters are pretty much the best in the country - just look at the recent CREDO study that found that Boston charters functionally give kids an extra year of school per year (!!!) compared to normal schools - and the only ticket out of poverty for many of our kids. Opposing charters hurts our kids.
(Additionally, on the note on fewer special needs students - some preliminary studies over the past few years have indicated that the seemingly lower percentage of special needs kids in charter schools may actually be a result of the fact that charters are far less likely to classify a kid as "special needs" whom the regular system would so classify, resulting in a seemingly lower percentage of special needs kids.)

No to Consalvo

While the educational question is interesting it his position opposed to pit type dogs that sways my vote away from him.. He supports muzzles, $50/year license fees and probably would advocate destroying all of them the way Denver did. I am a dog lover and have learned that so-called pit bulls are some of the best to dogs around.

Eh

Not the OP, but the dog position is troubling to me as well because it's both reactionary and extreme, which gives me pause about a candidate in general. I disagree with his position on schools, but it strikes me as comprehensive position and not an unreasonable one if you hail from a particular school of thought on public education.

All things being equal, if no other candidate had an educational plan I particularly liked and I was in line with his other platforms, Consalvo's school reform ideas wouldn't make me rule him out as an option. The dog position just might because it smacks of pandering to hysteria and makes me wonder what other issues he might knuckle under on if a few loud constituents get his ear.

School Committee

I'm voting for the candidate who truly wants to bring back an elected school committee. The citizens of Boston should not be denied their Constitutional right to vote for a public entity that has so much importance of the eduction of it's children.

Not sure where in the

Not sure where in the constitution it provides the right to an elected school committee. In fact, the Constitution does not even mention public education, although that was later added by federal law in the 1850s and has been an assumed right today. Citizens of Boston do vote for the Mayor, who appoints the school board, and the City Council, which approves the BPS budget. Adding more elected officials into the mix was a net negative, and the citizens of Boston rejected that twice in 1989 and 1996. Let's not go back.

Where does it say

that the Mayor gets to take the right we used to have to elect a school committee and appoint one himself. This isn't Iraq.
If you ask 100 people to name one member of the School Committee, you would get 100 dumb fucking looks.
Yeah and by the way who was Mayor in '89 and '96? Another reason we should have term limits.
Remember this is not Iraq.

The Mayor didn't take away

The Mayor didn't take away that right, it was a citywide referendum. Ray Flynn in '89 was mayor in '89. The second referendum was in '96, when Menino was Mayor. One thing they agreed on (and it passed the city council 7-1 and was ratified by the legislature. So one Mayor did not take away your "right" to have an elected school committee.

Why not a little of both?

Why not a little of both? Structure the process like presidential nominees for _____ with congressional confirmation. But in this case have the Mayor put forth a pool of candidates (let's say 10 for argument's sake, but it could be anything) for public vote. The public then votes for 7 of the 10, and those at the top of the tally get the job.