Boston School Committee opposes measure to expand number of charter schools

The Boston School Committee voted unanimously tonight to urge a no vote on Question 2, which would expand the number of charter schools in Massachusetts.

Boston school officials first began pondering a no vote in July out of concern over the impact of the loss in state aid that could come if students move to new charter schools.

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True. The corporate takeover of public education is about

money. The biggest and most often used lie is that charters increase funding to public schools. What advocates Trumply ignore is that the public school district gets its lost student reimbursed in year one then gets reduced funding in year two and forever after. Three card monty.

I have no problem with charter schools and their place in education. I have a YUGE problem with the endgame of public school privatization. This is nothing more than a business oppertunity disguised as altruism.

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What happens when the student

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What happens when the student goes to private school or moves out of the district? Because this is exactly what happens in BPS when there are no alternatives. The BPS decline in funding for programs (other than the elitist AWC and exam schools) started way before charters ever were a factor.

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the spiral started in 1974. However the parents

making the decision to flee had then and have now the resources to make that happen. This is about privatizing education. The genius behind the movement is the manipulation of do good liberals who see themselves as knowing better than the parents of public school students. They're being played for fools. If the cap is lifted I give the public school infrastructure about 10 years before it financialy implodes. Like Trump voters many cap lifters say "so what".

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What also happens is that

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when parents either take their kids out of the City's public schools, or families move out of the city altogether, there's not enough of a tax base coming in to pay for good programming, etc., for the public schools, so that's also why the decline in public education occurs.

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Question for you

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Suppose your kid didn't get into one of your preferred schools or a charter. You can't afford private schools or to move. What do you do - curl up in a corner and just cry?

And what do you tell those parents in that situation - too bad, shove it?

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Public education as a cash cow

It's true. The charter-school "movement" is a corporate strategy to tap into the huge amounts of money we spend on public education. Early on, the "reformers" carelessly and explicitly said so. Lately, they refrain from public statements defining their true motives, but they are still making tons of money from their efforts.

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Question 2 is irresponsible

Question 2 is irresponsible. Let say you have a grade school, middle school and high school in your town in Plymouth County, and you spend about 52% of the town budget on schools. You voted on a 2.5% override to build your new STEAM high school which opened last year. Then a charter chain proposes a new high school in town. The state approves it and 11 other new schools around the state. Does anyone not think it's going to be the same cost to run two high schools instead of one? Yet Question 2 includes $0 funding.

In addition, Mass. already underfunds poor school districts by about $1 billion.

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Why would you need the same staff levels

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and expenses with fewer students? Because I know for sure if a public school had more students it would require more funding.

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A simple example

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Suppose you had a school with 10 classrooms and 20 students in each classroom. Now suppose 10% of those students left the school, 2 from each class. Now you have 10 classrooms and 18 students in each classroom. Which teacher will you get rid of to ensure that your staffing level goes down by 10% to match the decline in students?

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Flip it around

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And you see why it won't happen.

Who's going to open a school with 20 kids? Plus, in my experience, they don't open a whole school at once. It's scaled up one grade at a time. You need big economies of scale. The model only fits 2-3 dozen Mass communities, mostly poorer communities.

These arguments are union strawmen.

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Yes, it's oversimplified

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I wasn't intending to imply that the new school will have actually have only 20 kids, that a charter school will draw students from just one district school, nor that this all happens as a single event. It was intentionally an oversimplified example to show how a decline in students - for whatever reason - doesn't necessarily result in a proportional reduction in cost. If my use of small numbers was misleading that was unintentional and it's too bad that it obscured my point.

You are right that adding a new charter school to the system would likely have an impact that ramped up over several years rather than all at once. But if the plan is to add a bunch of new charter schools, at some point in the not too distant future our student population will be spread out over a larger number of schools, across pretty much all grade levels. That's closer to my simple example (though scaled up across a bunch of district and charter schools, of course). If you don't want costs to go up, schools will need to close. And, as I said in the other thread, that's a very hard thing to do well. I think it's irresponsible to aggressively push for a rapid increase in charter schools (at the state level) without at least acknowledging that you are introducing a huge challenge to the district schools (at the city level).

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I think you have it backwards

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In your example, losing 10% of the students would mean 9 classrooms with 20 students, rather than 10 classrooms with 18 students. On its face, that means you let one of your teachers go, and reduce your staffing costs by 10%.

It never plays out that simply in reality, of course, but the no-on-2 folks are playing weird games with numbers to justify how public district budgets suffer from student attrition. If you lose an appreciable number of students, you don't need the same number of staff. Facilities costs might be fixed, but over a medium-to-long-term range, you can consolidate schools if the need arises.

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It's the "consolidating of

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It's the "consolidating of schools" that's very harmful and disrupts a students education. People don't understand that lives aren't businesses, especially children's lives. Question 2 is very cut and dry in it's wording, schools are more complex than that. That's why the legislature should figure out a responsible and complex way to lift the cap. It's not as simple as "12 schools a year, forever." We can do better than this.

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Not backwards, just poorly explained

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The key thing that I left out in my vastly oversimplified example is that the 10 classrooms are serving different grades, so you really are left with 10 classrooms even after the enrollment declines. Maybe the example really was too simple, but in general the concept is just that spreading students out over too many classrooms gets expensive.

As you point out, in the real world things are not at all that simple. BPS has hundreds of classrooms for each grade, spread across dozens of schools throughout the city, and the impact of charter schools on BPS enrollment plays out over several years. Since charters will draw from schools all across the district, keeping individual schools from experiencing under-enrolled classrooms will likely require some very challenging resource reallocation - it's not like all the kids that would have gone to a single district school will enroll en masse at a charter school. And while it is true that "you can consolidate schools if the need arises", in my experience doing so is neither as simple nor as painless as your matter-of-fact statement of that point would suggest.

If you believe that rapid charter school expansion is the best path forward, I hope that you can at least acknowledge that it is likely to put a tremendous burden on BPS.

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Actual schools

Actual elementary schools in Boston more typically have only one or two classrooms per grade.

It would be awesome if there were elementary schools with 10 classrooms per grade, though. What's the biggest elementary school in Boston? The Murphy?

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Except nobody would do that

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Why would you open a charter in a good or decent district? Would you attract the hundreds of studrmts you need in a relatively small community? Plus, I believe there are other controls in the application, approval and funding process that would make this difficult or impossible. Charters are really intended for poor and underperforming districts.

Again, BPS funding has skyrocketed since charters have been introduced and we have the best performing urban district in the country (though even that struggles to compete w charters and METCO).

Seems to me that the money gets found and the pressure of good charters has forced BPS to up their game.

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"Seems to me that the money gets found"

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Seems to me that the money gets found

Do you think this is sustainable? Good policy? Can you understand why the school committee might be a little worried that at some point the city will no longer be willing or able to keep finding new ways to fund two separate school systems, and that a rapid growth in charter schools is likely to get us to that breaking point faster than the city can reasonably react?

I understand that you are a supporter of charters and think that having another player in the game is a good thing, and that you don't mind disrupting BPS. Given your general tone when discussing the budget I am a little surprised that you have such faith in the funding consistently being available though.

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failure of familiarity and imagination

Why would you open a charter in a good or decent district?

Lots a reasons Board of Ed will open a charter in a district with good schools. For example

  • Chinese Immersion Language
  • STEM
  • Performing Arts
  • To keep families from moving from South Boston to the suburbs
  • You believe competition is what makes education better
  • Your intention is to replace locally governed schools with corp. charter chains
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Good luck

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Presenting cases like that to the state and getting approval.

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look it up.

They've all been approved. Look it up.

The unelected state bureaucracy (Mitchell Chester, Jim Peyser, Paul Sagan) that vets proposals to open charters is completely on board with creating competition by opening charter schools "where they are not needed." The latest case in point is Brockton. For somebody who has a lot of strong opinions you don't know much.

Even the idea that "they are needed" is premised on a load of industry created propaganda. (Go look at the CREDO study, it doesn't find what they claim it found. If its true kids learn 2x as fast in charters why aren't they graduating high school in 6th grade, and why do so many require 5 years of high school to graduate?)

Even if we had a different bureaucracy making new charter approval decisions that showed the same judgement you'd make, doesn't mean we always will. In other words, Question 2 grants an authority to implement an irresponsible solution. It does not specify a plan or guardrails-- 12 a year, anywhere, forever. Proposals aren't originated by town, cities or state, they're originated by the industry, companies that want to open a charter like KIPP. Rocketship and UP. What are their criteria for proposing a charter? And what is DESE criteria for approving them. Whatever it is, it is not legislated.

This week superior court reaffirmed a common right to education in the basis of its decision to reject the charter industry's civil rights case to get the court to lift the cap on charter schools. The court affirmed the proper roll of the legislature in making decisions about the common right to education (not individual right, common right.) The charter industry lost its bid to make an end run around the legislature with a claim of civil rights violation.

The charter industry is pressing on with a budget of $21 million (about $7 million more than was spent to get Baker elected) with a TV campaign that misinforms the public, about Question 2 funding--there is none-- and about the source of funding for charter schools-- the school district-- and about how that loss of funding effects the school district. In other words, they have to deceive people to get them to support their ballot initiative.

What we are witnessing here is an industry with $21 million to burn on lifting the cap on charters in Mass to unlock the "last honeypot." Last honeypot is what Wall St calls the money spent on K-12 education in the US funded mostly 90% by local property tax. Mass spends on education and charters want a bigger share of our cities and towns biggest budget item-- education. It would come at a huge cost to all of the kids who choose the public system. That suits them just fine. Charters industry is predatory crony capitalism.

Voting yes on 2 is voting for a power grab. You're turning over the authority to plan local schools and spend local property tax on schools "planned" by charters proposals from vendors and Beacon Hill appointees who decide. They are not elected, they are not accountable, and the money is coming directly out of local education budget for district public schools.

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I am voting "YES" not because

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I am voting "YES" not because of the Mayor because I am very disappointed in Marty Walsh as our Mayor!

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Marty Walsh is pro charter but he's voting no on Question 2

Marty Walsh is pro charter but he's voting no on Question 2 because it's an irresponsible solution. He wants a slow cap increase with a limit. And he wants a fix to the funding formula. Boston taxpayers are picking up the tab for funds the state should be paying.

There are a lot of pro-charter folks who oppose Question 2.

I was in favor of the RISEact. It raised the cap .5% a year contingent on compliance with charter reforms and funding chapter 70, Charters got what they wanted if they delivered on compliance and district schools got what they needed. It also delivered on local control with an override if the state was willing to pick up the tab.

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Charters Benefit Minority Students (Mass Live)

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When you sort through all the propaganda, Question 2 comes down to: Who benefits, students or teachers? The YES position benefits minority students in particular.

This op-ed piece makes that case. It's by Henry Thomas, the President and CEO of the Urban League of Springfield. He also holds or has held several state-level education positions.

http://www.masslive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/10/question_2_about_equal...

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Well, some students benefit.

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Well, some students benefit. However, my school just got four students who left their charter school because they were being suspended just about every other day. So, now that they are traumatized and labeled as bad because of this charter's "broken windows" policy we take them and spend an entire year trying to build them back up. We're happy to do that, but I'd rather these students not be traumatized in the first place. So yeah, it's a separate and unequal system that seems to work out great for some students. And that's fine, but I don't know if we need 12 more of the those schools every year, forever. If the question 2 just asked for 3 schools a year, I think people would vote Yes without hesitation, but 12 is too much.

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It helps some students,

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Shouldn't we figure out how to make the whole system better. Adding a charter school gives opportunity to a small number of students, what happens to those unable to get in and left behind?

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Same thing that happens in

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Same thing that happens in BPS with their lottery. Some get into Tier 1 and 2 schools and some get administratively assigned to lower tier schools that have next to no programming. Don't even get me started on the public exam schools that reward students who can test well.

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community schools

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are what the BPS needs. ridiculous that if you live in a neighborhood with above average schools you have a 10-20% chance your kid goes there.

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Would be - if it were true

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As far as K-8 goes, many kids in the BPS go to schools within walking distance, and the overwhelming majority go to schools within a mile and a half. That applies to the kids who live near the better schools just as much as the rest.

If you mean that of the four or five K-8 schools within easy distance of someone living in West Roxbury, only 20% end up at the Kilmer - well, wamby wamby boo hoo. The other nearby schools are pretty highly ranked too.

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Yes, But School Departments Resist Change

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As a theory, making traditional public better for the benefit of all students sounds wonderful. But it's a theory that has been proven to not work.

We've had poor performing public schools for many decades. School departments are very resistant to change. The unionize teacher work force only makes the problem worse.

The charter school movement was based on the premises that (a) a new school would be more open to try new ideas, (b) the ideas that 'work' could be kept and those that don't could be rejected, and (c) the traditional public schools could adopt those ideas that 'work'.

Well, (a) and (b) have been proven true. Mass. has the best charter schools in the country. However, (c) has not worked out. Traditional public schools generally will not adopt ideas that have been proven to 'work'.

So, the more moral choice is expand the number of and enrollment in charter schools.

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we got this

Massachusetts has the public schools in the country. Boston is the best urban district in the country, sometime #2. If Mass was it's own country, we'd have the 9th best public school system in the world.

Charters teach to the test and push-out an awful lot of students. Their stats on high school and college graduation are not as good as BPS. The stats are even if you leave out the exam schools.

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you don't have to guess

Where would we be without foundation budget established in 1993? Not no #1. The foundation budget-- F U N D I N G --and Mass educator defined curriculum is what drove MA forward, not the test or the charter schools. Foundation budget is underfunded by about $1 billion. That should be the priority not unfunded charter cap lift.

addendum: Charter schools account for 4% of Mass. students in publicly-funded K-12 schools. Anyone who wants to claim they are why Mass is #1 in K-12 education in the US is a moron isn't good at math.. I didn't invent the claim that funding-- the foundation budget-- and our curriculum is what has propelled Mass K-12 to the top, I read it in a study of the 1993 education reform act. Same study says charter schools have been no better and no worse than public district schools on average. That finding is consistent with the findings of other studies about charter schools across the US. The reason many cities have turned to charter schools is cost control. Who in their right mind thinks test prep without enrichment curriculum will produce better educated students? Who thinks schools that attrite over 50% of the kids who matriculate are 'excellent'?

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Bull

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Money does not equal.quality. BPS has long had one of the fastest growing ed budgets in the state. However they cotinue to languish in about the same spot on any number of state rankings. Accountability iscwhat has made us tops. Accountability is a powerful force.

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Lets take away all YOUR money

Maybe you will turn into a quality person? It would be fun to try.

See how good the quality of your work is when you are starving on the street! YEAH!!

Forward funding was KEY to the ascension of MA schools. There are NO TWO WAYS AROUND THAT. It allowed for the hiring of people with master's degrees in education - and for their retention in the system. It allowed for rebuilding of aged schools. You simply have NO IDEA what difference it made because all YOU care about is MONEY.

Go crawl into your vault and lick your money - and get your stupid hateful hands off the schools.

Or just move to fucking Arkansas already and stop trying to destroy all that is good here with your "theories". Go live with all the poorly educated fools down there and try to run a business. I dare you. Or Oklahoma, where they hire anyone with a pulse for shit money because QUALITY yeah right.

Then again, you probably get great quality out of those undocumented workers that you hire at sub-minimum wage, amirite?

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You've gone over the edge

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Your comments used to be obnoxious but occasionally well reasoned. Now you're just obnoxious.

The ad hominems and expletives are out of control.

We have a good system in most of the state. There are about 2 dz larger systems that range from mixed bag to horrendous. We've had charters for years. They have had either zero or a positive effect on publics. Screw the adults. There are thousands of kids that will benefit and none that will be harmed except in your imagination. Voting yes is an easy choice unless you have a vested interest in maintaing the power of the MTU and BTU which are the reason it has come to a referendum. We can't get reform because the pols are afraid of or in the pocket of the teachers' unions.

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Languishing?

So BPS is languishing at best urban school district? I don't get it.

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Languishing

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1) still ranks about the same statewide on MCAS as it did 15 years ago. Rising tide raised all ships, but we aren't sailing any faster relative to the others in our bay..

2) theses scores include Boston Latin and other exam schools. Take that out and the averages drop significantly at HS level.

3) Other than BLS and a few lower grade level schools most people who can move out of the city, send their kids to private or enroll in charters or METCO which are oversubscribed and which is why we have this referendum.

BPS is successful to the extent their competition in the urban arena is incompetent. I attribute that to the accountability of MCAS and other positive attributes of the Mass system. But within the state system we don't do so well. We languish.

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Rising tide

1. So BPS is languishing because the entire state's performance is rising and BPS is keeping pace with it? Perhaps you can see why others might not be convinced that's so terrible?

2. We should remember that the exam schools represent fully a quarter of BPS high schoolers. The top 25% isn't precisely elite. Saying one should take them out of the equation is silly. One would then have to compare them with the bottom 3/4 of whoever the comparison group is.

3. You seem to be saying you think the participation of charters and METCO in the Boston "education market" depresses the performance record of BPS. That makes sense to me. METCO, for example, takes the black students whose parents are the most prepared, signing them up on the way back from the hospital. Charters likewise select children of the most prepared and involved parents. If one corrected for that, BPS would seem to be doing even better.

I believe BPS can turn a corner in the next decade, under the leadership of Chang. The demographic of BPS is in the midst of radical change, and with strong leadership the opportunities of these changes can be maximized.

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Fair points but

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1) the point is that the state has reformed and "raised the tide". However BPS has done nothing special compared to the other districts, depite budget increases that have probably massively outpaced other communities.

2) perhaps. I am making an assumption that other cities lack these elite schools, many of which are fed by private and charter school students and "transplants" that come here just for those schools.

3) Maybe. But you have to assume that the kids would remain in BPS.

4) this is the most important point. I would be the first person standing up and shouting from the rafters and waving flags if we could just reform BPS. However, a) 10 years is an entire generation of kids and b) I don't see it happening. The unions dig their heels in at everything.

As I've said before, BPS does a GREAT job educating the elite at the exam schools. They also have tremendous resources for special ed no charter could ever match. However, parents of those middle students are voting with their feet to get out and charters seem to be a great solution for them.

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Contradiction

1) I don't think you've made a convincing argument on this. MA is number one for state public education, BPS is number one for urban public education. It doesn't really have to compete with Concord-Carlisle.

2. It sounds hyperbolic to call a quarter of the students elite. I doubt many people really "transplant" for the exam schools, as you have to move here a year before your kids could actually go. That's a big bet. In regards to the formerly private and charter students attending the exam schools, these are all Boston students. Their prior absence from the BPS elementary schools probably helped make those schools look worse. The numbers BPS racks up don't include those elementary students, so doesn't that mean BPS is actually doing better than it seems? Your argument here is self-contradictory.

3. I do assume that. I think METCO hurts BPS achievement statistics by skimming off the top of the minority students. If their parents could afford to move to Weston, they would. But the white flight of the seventies drove suburban real estate up very high, so those folks basically pulled the ladder up after them. If those students, and the charter students, stayed in BPS, the collective stats would be better. I would like them to stay by choice, because BPS gives them a reason to.

4. I think it's possible that a significant improvement could be achieved, and the focus would need to be on getting all the kids on an equal basis.
+Get rid of all the confusion of K-5, K-8, AWC, and move exclusively to K-6 and 7-12. If it's too small to be K-6, build it or close it.
+Reorganize to make schools full and shutter unoccupied schools. Enough with the bullshit about 'beloved neighborhood institution.' If nobody wants their kids to go there, it's not beloved enough.
+Increase the number of two-way bilingual schools. Why don't we have a two-way bilingual Mandarin-English school yet? Make it happen, Chang.
+Make Madison Park a Boston showcase for reinvented vo-tech.

This is all possible, and one of the thing it needs vitally is to get the parents who currently choose not to send their kids to BPS elementary schools to change their minds. Administrators need to stop assuming they're just running an educational welfare program and start thinking again about all the kids of Boston being their students.

The alternative is a death of a thousand cuts. Charter schools are just one of those cuts.

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We can go back and forth on this

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Let's boil it down to this. If my kid got into a few select schools, metco or a charter, I'd send them there, and certainly an exam school. If my kid didn't, personally.I'd move or send them to a private if I could afford it. That's fine if you have the choice. What do you tell a parent who can't move and has no other choice but to send their kid to a "less desirable school". Wait 10 years to see what happens?

Makes a huge difference when you move beyond the numbers and make it personal.

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i'm voting No on 2.

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Boston has significantly more kids living in poverty than the kids from the suburbs. And that primarily is what we're asking teachers and students to overcome.

In addition, we have a ton of kids with trauma and a substantial number of kids who speak English as a second language. We know how to accelerate the learning of these kids but it takes resources. Class size of 15 or less for ELL with an aid for 1st-3rd grades helps these kids learn the language and learn to read. About a third of BPS kids are ESL.

Kids with trauma need professional care so they can deal with the trauma and engage in learning,

One of the effects of poverty is delayed brain development, in which nutrition plays a big role.

That said our kids are performing at our above national average in 4th and 8th grade reading and math, and at the top of 20 urban school districts.

Not everybody is Usain Bolt. Take Forrest Gump for example, he started out with leg braces.

1/3 of the kids in BPS in high school attend an exam school.

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One has to bear in mind the following, however:

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The fact that School departments (including Boston's) do tend to resist change is exactly why the disastrous Federal Court-mandated school busing edict that took Boston by storm beginning in the mid-1970's (the storm over mandatory school busing in Boston lasted until well into the 1980's.) came about in the first place.

Had Louise Day Hicks and all her cronies on the all-white, politics-and-patronage-laden School Committee acted on their own and integrated the Boston public schools like they were supposed to, instead of engaging in all that political posturing and racist actions/behaviors, the Boston School System, as a whole would've been integrated differently, without having to resort to a Federal Court-ordered busing program, and where kids would be walking or taking public transportation, etc., to more racially balanced and educationally better public schools today. Also, race relations here in Boston would've been much improved, as well.

Louise Day Hicks was a very intelligent, well-educated woman who could've done a ton of good. Instead, she did a lot of damage to an already-badly-crippled school system, and made already-bad situations worse.

While it's kind of a drag to bring up the past, the past, unfortunately, does have an affect on the present, if one gets the drift.

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Charters

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Have the ability to boot the troublemakers while BPS doesn't, that makes all the difference. It's impossible to get quality education when teachers spends 90% of their time trying to get 20 year old gangbangers to sit down and shut up.

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Ask yourself, why would the

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Ask yourself, why would the Walmart folks care so much about a charter vote in Massachusetts? If you can't answer that you shouldn't endorse their pro charter agenda. Ditto for the vulture capital outfits dumping dark money into this vote.

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