Election roundup: Consalvo wants out-of-state charter-school group to stop funding Connolly effort

And the gloves come off in what had been a fairly genteel campaign. Rob Consalvo wants Democrats for Education Reform to back away from Boston. In a letter to the head of the Washington-based group, which is now pouring money and volunteers into an effort to get John Connolly elected, Consalvo writes:

We don't know where that money comes from, but we know it comes with one purpose: to further your agenda. ...

If you care about Boston, please understand that our city needs a mayor who will be beholden to the people, not outside groups like yours who care first and foremost about their own agenda.

Consalvo's complete letter is attached.

Meanwhile, CommonWealth ponders an effort by lunchpail union guy Marty Walsh to win over the earthy-crunchers of Jamaica Plain.

Seth McCoy interviews at-large Council candidates Annissa George, Ramon Soto and Althea Garrison:



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consalvo-letter.txt0 bytes


Bias Much?

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He deleted

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My comment regarding Consalvo because he obviously supports him.



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I deleted your post because you used


as a "user" name and it confused an actual user as to why I'd be saying so vituperative. So here's the deal: Say what you want, but don't try to use something that looks like a regular user's name.


What's Consalvo's plan

Connolly has at least made some specific proposals for the city - what exactly is Consalvo's big idea? Menino 2.0?


connolly is a closet republican

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yeah - and they're all nefarious right-wing koch bros agenda - trying to gut our urban public schools to create a permanent underclass.


The charters have been one of the few legs-up for the underclass

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Have a look at the statistics for places like Roxbury Prep. They give REAL opportunity to kids who all come from poverty. They at least offer a chance to more than the number of kids whose parents are savvy enough to get into Metco. And they offer that chance to kids of all races. The competition from the charters is the only reason the BPS has offered any attractive alternatives over the past 10 years. And if it means a few more engaged families will stay in the city, instead of the constant flow to the suburbs? That's great for everyone.



The charters do not give the underclass a leg up. The divert public funds to private organizations. They cause funding problems for BPS.

The state is suppose to reimburse the districts for charter school costs. But it doesn’t. There is a 20 million short fall. The charters get paid no matter what. So that means the 20 million comes out of the public schools’ budget.

Furthermore, many of these charters use the “No Excuse” approach to education. That means it is their policy to suspend and expel kids in high numbers. Some charters schools have an attrition rate of 60 to 67 percent.

So I ask people to think this through. If there are more charters that the state isn’t fully reimbursing, and the charters lose over half their class, those kids come back to BPS. BPS is now even more depleted financially. How are they going to meet these kids needs with depleted funds?

Furthermore, the Commonwealth charters do not hire union teachers. So teachers work longer hours and are paid less. Teachers already feel like they are under sieged.

If they truly helped kids, I would be all for them. But they defund public schools and expel and suspend children in high numbers.

Furthermore, the kids don't test as well as the exam schools which really are public schools.

Time out googie baba

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1) How does a school with a $950 million budget for 55,000 kids have a funding problem

2) what is the source of this $20 million - I can't imagine that the state can just "stiff" the cities and towns on something like this beyond messing with cash flow/ payment timing.

3) Nice red herring - "some schools" - as in one or two really small ones in one particular year?

4) teachers work longer hours and are paid less - in charters perhaps, but remember, Boston's teachers work fewer classroom hours and get paid more than almost every teacher in the country. Can I be under siege with shorter hours and more pay?

5) And the exam schools are pretty special - which is why they call them exam schools. You have to take a test to get in. Charters get their kids from a lottery from kids who probably can't get into the exam schools. Hey - if you can turn every school into BLS you'll put the charters out of biz overnight.

BPS is far and away one of the wealthiest school districts in the country. Not saying the money is efficiently spent - but with a total budget of well over $20k per student when it's all counted, there are no problems at BPS that more money will fix.

At the end of the day

The money that private charters reap in profits comes from somewhere.

You might make the case for "efficiency" but the data that have come in on corporate charters suggest that it comes from "quality" of teaching and environment.

Hi Swirly Girl, My argument

Hi Swirly Girl,

My argument is that the corporate charters are not doing a good job of teaching children. They are identifying the ones that do well on tests and they counsel the rest out. The children that stay in charters would have done just as well at the public schools. They are good test takers. They do not have the same numbers of ELL students and SPED students.

Furthermore, there are discrepancies between how well charter school kids do on MCAS and things like the SAT. People on my side of the discussion sincerely believe that charter schools are gaming the system. They are teaching to the test. But it is harder to teach to the SATs. Their students don't do as well on those.


then explain Roxbury Prep

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their kids come in on average about 2 grades below level and graduate 8th grade with scores that are on par with many of the W suburbs.

I will agree that charters may have structural advantages. So what's the solution - close of limit the charters and drag down everyone.

If the problems at BPS are structural - change the structure or get out of the way.

PS - a bit crazed today - but thanks for posting your sources below. Hope to have a chance to review tomorrow morning.


My sources

Hey Stevil,

Here are my sources:

1) They have a funding problem because of unfunded mandates that are imposed upon them from the state and the federal government. Things like CORI checks, special education, anti-bullying etc. Here is a list of unfunded mandates from the Association of School Committees:


2) Charter schools are one of these unfunded mandates. The charter schools get paid off the top for the tuition. The legislature is suppose to reimburse BPS. But it doesn't.


BPS powerpoint presentation of the budget; http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/files/2013-02-0...

3) not a red herring. I charted the attrition rates of all the charter schools for high school students and made presentation. You can find it here:

The best attrition rate was Codman. It lost only 40% of its class. I didn't list the Up Academies because there was no data listed for them on the DESE web site. I assume that is because they are new schools.

4) The union is not against extended day. They want to be compensated for the extra time it takes. I don't see any reason why teachers should have to work more and not be compensated for it. Would we ask that of policemen or firefighters?

5) While it's true that the exam schools are special, the charters aren't taking the hard to teach kids. They take in everyone and then counsel out the students that don't test well. My contention is that those students would have done fine in a regular school. The charters aren't doing anything magical or special. They are gaming the system.


I pretty much agree with you

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But as to your data regarding attrition rates, it would be more meaningful if you included slides showing attrition rates from the comparable public high schools as well. What's the attrition rate at English?


do your research

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You post numbers Stevil, but maybe you should supply more facts.
Charters are paid by the district where they are located. They have to be paid. The pie is only so big. Charter money comes from the BPS budget.

They cherry pick students too. The lotteries?? Most of them are a bunch of bunk. Kids with special needs? Behavior problems? They don't make the lottery cut, and if they do, they ultimately get suspended or tossed and wind up back in a system that is bleeding funds to pay the charters. It's a vicious cycle.

BPS needs to make improvements to the schools it has, not just have charters move in as some ill conceived panacea.

You want to know why BLS has tons of money? Endowment and alumni donors. Not BPS funds. And 20K per student? Try again.


Do your own research

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Charter money DOES NOT come from the BPS Budget - they are included under state assessments.

State Assessments
Accompanying the local aid distributions on the
State’s cherry sheet are charges to the City from the
Commonwealth. Aside from the assessments for the
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
and Charter School Tuition, state assessments are
relatively small.

Add up the ALL of what we spend on schools - operating budget, external funds, retirement bennies and capital funds and you come up with a total number of about $1.25 billion I believe - divide that by the 55,000 and shrinking number of students and you get a number WELL in excess of $20k per year - and remember -there is no imputed rent or other.

Charters are not some ill conceived panacea - they are thriving because the parents think they are doing a great job. BPS may indeed may have structural disadvantages - I don't give a rat's ass. If thousands of kids can do better in charters than they will do in BPS - so be it. If BPS wants to fix those structural issues - fine. I don't care if BPS becomes the home for little delinquents - as long as the kids who want a shot get that shot.

It's about the kids - not some turf battle among adults who see their gravy train dissipation light flickering in the corner of their eyes.


Contradicting yourself

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"I don't care if BPS becomes the home for little delinquents - as long as the kids who want a shot get that shot."

If the kids have a more-than-mild disability, they aren't welcome at charter schools. So, no, not all kids get a shot at the education offered by charters, and BPS ends up having a much higher proportion of students with disabilities than the general population does. And yes, I know private schools account for some of this, but they aren't using public education funding, so I don't really care what their admissions policies are.


Past Bedtime for "Boston Teachers Work the Shortest Day" Fib

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Connolly:"Currently, Boston's school day is one of the shortest in the nation."


Hmmmff, actually:

Walsh: "The claim has been made that Boston has the shortest school day in the country. This is not correct. The day for Boston elementary schools is 6.5 hours, the Massachusetts state average. The national average is 6.7 hours, 12 minutes more than our elementary schools. Our middle and high schools have a 20 minute longer day, above the national average."


Where else has the claim been made that a district's teachers work the shortest day anywhere? Oh, wherever the longer school day policy is rammed through prior to the whole system collapsing under a myriad strains.


And this despite the fact that no district can afford a longer day at all schools and nowhere near all schools or parents need or want it. If students and families in need are who we're aiming to help, let's offer elective need-based academic and enrichment support that will build up neighborhoods and won't bleed the city pointlessly of cash and purge our schools of folks who can and wish to spend time with their kids. Believe it or not, these families come from all economic backgrounds and career paths.




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The Brooke doesn't expell or suspend students in large numbers. Check your facts.


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Which Brooke do you mean? In Roslindale, the rate is 24.9%. That's pretty high. Of course, the Mattapan Brooke is considerably lower at 22%. So instead of one in four students being suspended, Mattapan has just over one in five.
That's not a large number?


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I don't think that anonymous blogger has kids in the BPS, so invalid viewpoint, right?

I'd be stunned if he/she wasn't a BTU leader.

Roxbury Prep and Metco

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"And they offer the chance for kids of all races"

Not true.
My daughter is bi-racial, on the lighter side with light brown/blondish hair. Back in the '70s I tried to get her into the Metco program and she was denied. I was told it was for black children. Her birth certificate could not prove either side of her race (boston born) because in the section where it states 'race' there is a line going through it.
Roxbury prep, I live in the neighborhood, i only see children of color, no white children .


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I'm not doubting that you got denied entrance into METCO by someone who wasn't following the rules correctly -- there are idiot administrators all over the place, and we frequently run into people who don't think adoptive parents are legal parents, won't accept our child's birth certificate because they don't believe that adopted kids get a new birth certificate, or state that a kid can't have two female legal parents.

However, despite your family apparently running into someone who didn't know what they're doing, METCO is not just for Black kids: In the 2010-2011 school year, 75.2% of METCO pupils were African American, 3.4% were Asian, 16.8% were Hispanic, and the remaining 5% were classified as multi-race or “other.” They aren't supposed to just go by the racial classification on the birth certificate, and recentish Massachusetts ones don't list race.

Also, Roxbury Prep eligibility has nothing to do with race. It's a public charter school, and anyone can apply.


charters are a bunch of bunk

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from now on - for every single education-related mayoral post, I'm going to link to pieces like this recent one in the atlantic:


Also - Consalvo has only touched the tip of the iceberg with Connolly, btw... "outside money" is being too nice.

I think the debate about our schools needs to be shifted (this stupid "more charters" by people who don't actually have kids in BPS) - but arguing actual facts against the highly ideological pro-charter agenda being fueled by big media is going to be difficult.


Kids in the BPS

Of course, that's a tidy argument to dispel all the concerns of Boston families who opt out of BPS because they can't get an assignment near their house, aren't satisfied with the quality of school offered, etc...

Some charter schools are fine (Brooke for example). Some are not (Renaissance). If they can be used as lever to encourage innovation and improvements from the unholy alliance of the BPS and BTU, great.



He is a City Councilor At Large....of course he used his influence to get placement for his child. He had helped my son in the past, and I would be with him if he didn't push the corporate reform agenda that will take money away from services for him (my autistic son) and his brother who attend BPS.

I know that the funders of D.F.E.R. just are tryng to get an in to sell their wares, and are not in the least concerned with the education of children. Follow the money.

Yes, and he will know exactly who I am and I want him to know that I am disappointed in him for falling for the corporate education reform agenda.



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So how much pull do you think it takes to get your kid into the Trotter? Are you even from Boston?


Yes, yes I do

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And I'm thinking the facts of the Trotter are pretty darn good proof that no influence was used. He'd have to have gotten something any schmo couldn't just walk in and get to make influence use even plausible.

In Another Parent's Words

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Another parent said it better than I can: "My concerns and questions: Three words here: CORPORATE ED REFORM. Councilman Connolly, you seem like a very bright, concerned person and you have many great ideas and are a valuable part of the discussion about the city, BUT you are too in bed with outside corporate ed money… I spent almost a decade working under Bloomberg/Klein. I have paid close attention to all of the education related happenings in DC, Michigan, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Idaho, North Carolina, Ohio and most recently, Chicago and Philadelphia. I have watched schools close, communities and children displaced, veteran teachers lose jobs, teacher voice be silenced, teacher standards be lowered, taxpayer funds get funneled to schools that don’t meet standards for safety and teacher preparedness. I have seen my own caseloads increase and my access to necessary supplies decrease. Now all of this might have a shred of justification if it a) improved student outcomes and b) saved taxpayers money. There isn’t any convincing evidence that all these efforts have done either.

Look, we are all for reform. None of us who works in a school wants to work with incompetent people. We don’t want to see kids go to school in unsafe and unclean settings. We want all kids to have access to the same opportunities. As far as I can see, privatization of the schools does exactly the opposite of that. It provides more transient schools with less experienced staff. Oh, and toss in a heaping pile of discrimination too. It’s pretty well documented that charter schools aren’t willing to serve all students. I worked in a charter school. I sat in on IEP meetings where kids with mild behavior issues were counseled out. It really happens. Is there not a way that we enact the reforms that are needed without tearing down the system? Without displacing children and communities? Without completely disenfranchising dedicated people who have spent their working lives teaching our young people?

Councilman Connolly, your intentions may be perfectly above board and you may truly believe that your focus is totally on student outcomes, but how will you be able to resist the pressure to enact the agenda of those that are funding your campaign. We know what that agenda is. We have had over a decade to watch it all over the country. No thank you. Sir, you are a valuable voice and I hope that you will be able to continue to contribute your efforts to the betterment of the city of Boston, but you will not have my vote."



Campaign funds

Boston City Council candidates receive $0 in funding for their campaigns from The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Does that answer the question that you were trying to ask?