Group wants to bust up Court Street

The Globe reports on a report by a group that says Boston needs to let all its public schools operate autonomously, like charter schools. The story notes that hasn't always worked out well.



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    If more schools are independent, how will Haley parents make sure their snowflakes have an even more special school experience? I guess they'll just settle for continuing to suck in more than their share of the BPS budget.


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    Yeah! Kids should never be made to feel special!

    Maybe bitter, but not necessarily wrong

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    As a former Haley parent, I grok where Vaughn K. is coming from. The Haley has had more support than many other schools in the BPS.

    A big part of that is due to the efforts of a really dedicated staff and parent community. This part isn't a bad thing - it's the sort of engagement we want to see at every school. (tip of the hat here to amazing former principal Jean Dorcas (now retired), who worked hard to nurture those grass roots).

    However, what rubs some people the wrong way is the perception that because of its higher than average profile, the Haley has in recent years been the beneficiary of additional supports from the BPS, and has also been exempted from compromises and cuts that have affected many other schools serving the same neighborhoods. In the eyes of many it's become something of a political golden calf.

    The latest example of this would be that, a mere handful of years after Roslindale families were told "there's no room or money to create K-8 schools in your neighborhood - instead all Rosi kids will have seats at the Irving Middle school" - the Haley, changed first into a pilot school, is now being expanded into a K-8. Many Rosi parents suspect that the money and resources required for this expansion are coming at the expense of the Irving and other schools (and it's especially galling given the new programs and higher success that the Irving has launched in the last several years, using, in large part, outside funding).

    I was part of the Haley community when we first asked the BPS for an expansion. We were told there was no money, and after determining that outside funding wasn't possible, we put aside the idea and worked with other Rosi schools to make the K-8 Irving pathway program as equitable and appealing as possible. It seems extremely cynical for Court St to ignore those claims and promises now and appear to play favorites with a single JP-adjacent school.

    Maybe overly harsh

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    I was way reductive but you've summed it up pretty well.

    As I understand it, the Haley is pulling in $1.8m in funding to expand to a K-8 while there are seats available in the Irving, just up the road, and while there are budget cuts being threatened (paging Stevil) across the zone.

    Some kids are more special than others, right?

    Further edit- I don't begrudge parents working to get the best for their kids, but I do expect BPS to try to offer equal educational opportunities as much as possible. I used to be involved in a school where weighted funding make a huge improvement to the school budget, because it wasn't the Haley or the Kilmer, etc... I worry that in this time of transition, the 'have' schools are once again loading up at the expense of the less connected.

    The 'have' schools

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    I haven't done too much analysis of which schools are getting hit the hardest, although I know some parents who have done some work to compile that data. However, I thought you might be interested to read a take on the BPS budget that puts forward pretty much the exact opposite hypothesis:

    it may well be that McDonough chose to layoff staff in these schools rather than in poorer neighborhoods because he knew that Curley parents would organize and protest loudly, and that those responsible for cutting Federal and state school funding would hear ; and that their protests would matter more to these officials than if he himself were making them.


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    Boston has had a fickle history with autonomous schools. It tried, with much fanfare, more than two decades ago to give all schools more control of budgeting, staffing, and curriculum decisions. But that effort faltered because of resistance from the teachers union, the refusal of various departments in the central office to relinquish control, and a change in superintendents.

    So the problem is selfish adults looking out for their own interests - not the kids. And we've given the heirs to this the keys to the kingdom over the past 3 years to the tune of $150 million in budget increases. Hmmm...

    I'm sure it was a little more

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    I'm sure it was a little more complicated than that, but even if it was that simple, that was two decades ago. Something that happened two decades ago shouldn't stop anybody from doing something today. There are plenty of great schools in Boston with school autonomy and plenty of great schools without it. Here is a list of about 40 schools that are great. Some have school autonomy and some don't. It's not a magic bullet and doesn't make sense for every school.

    Charles Sumner, Charles Taylor, George Conley, James Otis, John D. Philbrick, Joseph P. Manning, Manassah E. Bradley, Nathan Hale, Paul J. Kennedy, Dr. William Henderson, Phineas Bates, Josiah Quincy, Roger Clap, Samuel Mason, William Monroe Trotter, Lyon K-8, Elliot Elementary, Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Hurley, Joyce Kilmer, Richard Murphy, Orchard Gardens, William Ohrenberger, Lyndon, Warren-Prescott, Rafael Hernandez, Fenway, New Mission, BLA, BLS, O'Bryant, Ellis Mendell, Curley K-8, BCLA, BAA, Mission Hill, Tech Boston, Quincy Upper, Margarita Muniz, Mozart... and I am sure many parents seeing this list would add other schools.

    the latest addition to your list

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    I am confident that Boston Green Academy belongs on your list. As the most improved school in the district, second most improved in the state, Interim Superintendent McDonough recently declared our school to be "the pride of Boston Public Schools." We are doing amazing things here in just the third year of existence. Keep your eyes open for more achievements by BGA!