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Ouch: Marty Walsh going full Scott Walker on charter schools?

UPDATE: Walsh says Pierce should shut his misinformed yap. More below.

Charles Pierce (yes, that Charles Pierce) levies a j'accuse at Mayor Walsh, charging he wants to shut 36 public schools to make way for more charter and parochial schools.

He's cut a deal with some of the most odious practitioners of the school "reform" grift, including the Walton Family of Wingnuts, and he did so under the radar.

Pierce bases his assertion on FOIA'ed documents, as discussed by Mary Lewis Pierce, who has a kid in BPS.

Mayor Walsh's office issued the following statement:

The Mayor has never said, nor does he have a plan to close 36 schools. Mayor Walsh has proven his dedication to Boston Public Schools by, in the past year alone, providing unprecedented budgetary support, extending learning time for students, adding 200 pre-kindergarten seats to the district, and hiring a first-class Superintendent. The Mayor also launched a multi-year Educational and Facilities Master Plan this fall to guide smart investments in Boston's schools with the goal of providing all students with a high-quality, 21st-century education.

The Esquire article is untrue and unsourced, and references meetings that the Mayor has never had. We are extremely disappointed at the spread of misinformation.

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Comments

if he won't go away? He used to be great. Then he became a human MP3 for leftist rhetoric, free of any logic. I wish I could retire like my schoolteacher neighbor, ten years my junior. Tell the mother of a kid in the Foxboro charter school that she should suck it up and take her chances in Brockton or Taunton.

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If so, please share it in a more considered refutation of what Pierce has put forth.

Otherwise, declarations of the sort that you have put forth absolutely qualify as "rhetoric, free of any logic".

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Charles P. Pierce is spot-on whenever he writes about the covert effort by billionaires, hedge funders, and rightwing ideologues to privatize the nation’ s public schools, starting in big cities, where they claim to be “saving poor children from bad public schools.”

Today he nails the secret, dirty deal that Mayor Marty Walsh has forged with the billionaires, turning over one-quarter of Boston’s public schools to privatization. Having campaigned against a for-charter candidate in the election in 2013, Walsh is now performing what Pierce aptly describes as a “Full Scott Walker,”

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Sounds more like a full Rahm Emanuel.

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Rahm closed 47 neighborhood public schools and voters wanted them kept open and fudned. Folks don't want their neighborhood schools closed, they want equity-- the resources necessary to meet the needs of the students.

Charter operators want neighborhood public schools closed.

School closings are setup in three ways,

  • low average test scores (more dependent on family income than anything else) as required by NCLB and state law
  • by cutting the school's budgets every year until it sucks, or
  • consolidating schools after charter expansion.

After schools are closed a charter operator can take the property.

Philly Mayor Nutter closed 23.

Walsh is a neoliberal. He was perfectly Ok with Bostonians picking up the tab for Boston2024 ($800,000,000 for starters) so his friends in the construction biz could make a killing. IndyCar is the same gambit. A bunch of people profit. Taxpayers are bring used like a piggy bank, at our risk. Charter schools make potential donors rich with big salaries for charter CEOs etc.

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Neighborhood schools?

Maybe the death of neighborhood schools makes this kind of thing easier. Unless you happen to have kids in the school down the street, you feel no connection to it.

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Folks don't want their neighborhood schools closed, they want equity-- the resources necessary to meet the needs of the students.

Indeed, a simple solution. Only, as a former teacher of mine once said, "It IS simple. It ISN'T easy." Walsh is taking the easy way out. He may talk a liberal game, but he's not going to spend time in City Hall without feathering his own nest. Crony capitalism knows no politics these days.

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labornotes:

Philadelphia:

Students displaced: 10,000
Layoffs: 3,700
School closings: 23
Charter schools opened: 9
Increase in charter budget: $107 million

Chicago:
Students displaced: 12,700
Layoffs: 2,000
School closings: 47
Charter schools opened: 15

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Both Philly and Chicago have less net schools (14 and 32 respectively) than whenever before was.

I think if you look at Stevil's analysis of BPS enrollment and Census Bureau figures on the population aged 5-17 in Boston, your argument might not be that strong.

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Aren't most BPS students displaced already? What's the difference?

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I wish I could retire like my schoolteacher neighbor, ten years my junior

Translation: my job is shitty, so yours should be, too.

Also, my mom's been teaching for 40 years (20 with BPS), is 60, and isn't retiring (and, financially, shouldn't) any time soon. This makes me doubt your story.

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there is nothing wrong with Taunton public schools. I have family employed and enrolled there with no complaints. Dunno about Brockton but this commenter seems like a troll...

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Because the status quo of busing and spending caviar budgets to get canned tuna has work so well.

The mayor is right to be looking toward alternatives to a system which has not been working well for almost a half century now.

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[citation needed]

oh, hold on, let me help you with that: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_spending_on_education_(%25_of_GDP)

thoroughly mediocre.

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Massachusetts has the top rated K-12 public education system in the nation.

Boston is the top rated urban district in the nation.

Boston public school graduates attend college at a higher rate than Boston charter school graduates, and graduate from college at a higher rate.

Charters funnel lots of tax money to private operators, currently $129,000,000 a year from the district to privately operated charter schools.

If we were willing to invest in solutions, we'd fund universal pre-k and ELT, especially in neighborhoods with a high degree of poverty, small class sizes K-3 and ELL support, emotional and wellness support, wrap around services.

It turns out the state has been underfunding Mass public schools. If you're interested in learning more, read the Foundation budget Review Commission report released last week. It'll open your eyes.

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I thought busing was going to straighten everything out, you mean things are fluxed up?Who would have thought........

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It wasn't as if there were nearly twenty years of court-ordered desegregation going on before Boston got busing where the "I got mine fuck you" committee could have found a better solution.

Oh, wait - 1954 to the early 1970s IS almost 20 years where they could have gotten their act together instead of doubling down on the racist bullcrap. Who knew?

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Are you saying things have gotten better since 1974?

Or to the point, would you have sent your sons to a Boston Public School that did not have the word Latin in its name?

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Blaming "busing" for the difficulties of the current system is equivalent to listing "heart failure" as a cause of death.

Also, consider this: busing was a crisis resulting from a deliberately manufactured situation. It wasn't intended to solve quality problems but evenly distribute the resources (which had been unfairly shunted to certain schools at the expense of others in a deliberately underfunded system).

Charter school advocates constantly attempt to manufacture a crisis that does not exist in reality, in order to deliberately manufacture a "solution".

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But nonethelss, would you send your kid to any BPS high school that doesn't have "Latin" in its name?

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She lives in the suburbs, at a comfortable remove from the continuing damage done by busing.

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Funny, but around here I keep hearing from people in surrounding suburbs about "race riots in the high school".

But my kids would have ended up in Latin if we lived in Boston. Instead, we send them to "that scary and dangerous high school" I keep hearing about, even from people in Medford - the one that I have had at least one kid in for six years now.

But, hey, you can now go back to your fantasies about my life in places closer to downtown and more densely populated than where you live, SockPucky.

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for a laugh.

Sorry, but the rumors of which high school is the bad one in one suburb or another don't make it to the city we're talking about here.

I'm sure your kids would have ended up at Latin if you had lived in Boston, and continued to live in Boston. It's not that hard to get in. You just have to live in Boston and do well on the test. But living in Boston isn't for everybody.

I know you want desperately to opine about something that has little to do with you. You want to sound like you're all mad about racial politics in Boston today or twenty years ago, cuz you're PC

But you live in a 79% white suburb, with the people who fled desegregation, not the people who stayed and participated in it here in Boston, so you're pretty far off base whining about "racist bullcrap" here.

There's just no way in which you're part of the solution more than you're part of the problem.

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progressive.org:
But the story has begun to depart from this familiar narrative. Civil rights leaders like Mel King are joining the chorus of charter critics. At a recent hearing at the Statehouse, the 87-year-old King told members of the Education Committee that charter schools fall far short of what he calls the “Pledge of Allegiance” test. He said:

“If the solution is only meant for a few kids, and all the rest of the kids are left out, where is the liberty and justice for all?”

I spoke with King recently, and it’s striking just how much bigger and more comprehensive his demands are than the “access to high quality seats” vision held by charter school advocates.

“It’s about a community having control of its resources and allocating those resources in a way that most of the children can access them,” said King. For him, charter schools aren’t a radical departure from the city’s rigidly hierarchical education system. They’re a continuation of that tradition. “If you start out with a system where only a portion of the students get the resources, you’re saying ‘these are the kids we think can make it.’”

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Wouldn't you rather see some of the kids making it than none of the kids making it? A herd running at the speed of the slowest runner always gets eaten in the end.

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But we're supposedly better than that and no longer really have to worry about being eaten by lions, so why don't we figure out how to help the kids who need some extra help.

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Is nice, but having one or two students in the classroom taking up 90% of the teacher's time is a little more than "some extra help."

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Is nice, but having one or two students in the classroom taking up 90% of the teacher's time is a little more than "some extra help."

So maybe you help them another way. Is that really the only possible solution you can come up with? It's either having them "taking up 90% of the teacher's time", or the charter school "solution" of kicking them to the curb? Come on, let's use our creativity. This is everyone's problem, you can't just get your kid in a "good school' and pretend the rest of the system is not your problem.

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Walsh never supported Charter Schools? You feel mislead? No buddy just uninformed....

During Mayoral Campaign
Q: Should the cap on charter schools in Boston be lifted? Why or why not?

A: "I have long believed that public charter schools have an important place within the Boston Public Schools. As Mayor of Boston, my goal will be to strengthen all of the city's public schools so that families can find attractive options without concern for how a particular school may be structured. Meanwhile, I support lifting the cap on charter schools as one way to provide parents with more good options for their children. As a lawmaker, I have a longstanding record of support for public education in all forms, including the appropriate role of charter schools. Additionally, I have direct personal experience as a founding board member of the Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester."

http://www.masslive.com/news/boston/index.ssf/2013/09/boston_mayoral_can...

But hey, what do you expect from a guy writing for Esquire. Whats next Charles, TMZ?

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Walsh never supported Charter Schools?

Funny, this isn't something Charlie said. I know reading is hard, and it's harder to get angry at someone's actual argument than it is to just make one up that's easier to refute, but please.

Charlie's piece is quite clearly angry at the support of charter schools at the expense of public schools, i.e "to close 36 public schools in order to make way for charters—and, it seems, for the city's parochial schools," something that would not be in line with a "support for public education in all forms."

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Charter schools are able to remove disruptive students as soon as they become an issue. Public schools, on the other hand, for the most part can't do anything at all thanks to that wonderful no child left behind policy. Would you want your kid to spend the school year listening to the teacher teaching the class, or the teacher trying to reason with an 18 year old 9th-grader gangbanger who should have been kicked out many years ago? Would you rather see 95 students go to college and 5 thugs go to jail, or 5 students go to college, 90 students go to Walmart or some other minimum wage job, and those same 5 thugs go to jail right after they graduate?

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My kid goes to a charter. In the past three years, the kids who have left his class have left because they moved out of the district. There are plenty of kids who misbehave and they lose recess, have to serve detention, etc... but to date they have not been kicked out to a BPS school.

The real filtration process primarily occurs because you have to enough interest in your kid's education to apply which eliminates the truly terrible parents who probably had terrible parents who didn't value education, etc... However the charter school folks I've spoken with were in favor of expanding the application process to make it easier to apply, which in theory will remove this filter.

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regarding your kid's experience but I have heard BPS teaching staff talk about bracing themselves for the enrollment wave of students who are kicked out or "counseled out" of charters between December and February of every school year just before MCAS.

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You never seem to have specifics. Which charter schools are kicking out kids? Which BPS schools are having to take these schools?

Here's some cherry picked data - the Manning has 57 proficient or higher kids on the 2014 MCAS (year chosen at random) when the Mendell has 4 respectively. I don't think the Manning is screening out kids specifically yet hey look, the desirable school has better results due to, partly, greater parent commitment from the start. Also, spoiler alert- the Manning is 44% white unlike any charter school you'd care to name. Where's the inequity of access really happening here?

Some charters are crap and need to be shut down. Some BPS schools are also crap and need to substantially reformed (English, etc...) There are many solutions to these issues.

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kicked out of various charters and I'm not sure specifically which ones but I think the Brooke is one of them. They are getting punted back to the Irving.

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so just anecdotal stuff which lines up with your personal views? Helpful...

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they are returning to the Irving, which proves the point that this mass counseling out is a real thing. I don't think DESE keeps stats on student who leave charters and return to district schools. If anyone knows otherwise, I'd love to find out where that gets documented.

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Most of the Brooke kids aren't from Roslindale.

Kids change schools all the time, you're still just throwing out anecdotes and claiming proof.

Again, there are plenty of crap charter schools, just look at the results published yesterday. I just don't buy into your one-size-fails all theory of charter schools.

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I'm always a little hesitant to wade into these waters, because 80% of the chatter around charter schools on these threads is trolling, racism, hardline-political-positions, or a combination of the three. However, I will add that my wife is a senior-level administrator at one of the extremely-high-performing charter middle schools in the city, which gives me somewhat of an inside perspective on how things work, and your statement is correct, Vaughan. In three years, the only expulsion from this particular school was for a weapons/substance violation, which would also get you booted from BPS.

I am happy to comment more, if anyone is still reading, since most of the hardcore trolls abandon ship once the headline dips below the fold.

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Including any corrections/insight on anything I've written out here. I ran an after school session as a volunteer for a couple years at a local charter and saw first hand what a great job they were doing - which is why I'm such a supporter of charters.

Bottom line - there are kids like Vaughn's that are thriving in charters. Why anyone would want to take that away from them is beyond me. With 54,000 kids and a $1 billion budget - BPS still has lots of work to do and ample budget to do it with.

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For the most part, I think your analysis is correct. The only thing I'd argue with is the characterization of "privatization," and that's sort of semantic haggling, really. Charterization is absolutely a funnel for public funds into private hands, but it's not quite as straightforward as either side makes it out to be.

When a student leaves BPS to enroll in a charter school, the charter gets 100% of the money that the town would otherwise be sending to that student's district. It isn't zero sum, though, because the district from which that student is removed doesn't immediately lose all the money they would otherwise be entitled to. They pay full tuition to the charter, but the state reimburses some or all of that money for the next six years, so that sudden shifts to or from charter schools in a particular area won't cause disastrous impacts on local school budgets. (It used to be three years, at 100, 60, and 40% reimbursement, though I'm not sure when the change happened) That's a one-way benefit; if a student unenrolls in Pacific Rim and goes back to BPS, Pacific Rim loses all of that tuition the next academic year.

Interestingly, this means that the movement away from public schools and into charter schools is more expensive for the *state*, but doesn't have nearly as severe an impact on *local* districts as anti-charter advocates would have you believe. There's a loss of funding, yes, but you'll have at least a full financial year to make adjustments to your budget.

Per-student spending at Massachusetts charter schools is also lower than at public counterparts, though I can't find current numbers. As of 8 years ago, per-pupil spending was between 10 and 25% lower at charter schools than at public schools. Performance isn't always measurably better, but the schools that are succeeding (Brooke, Excel, KIPP, Match, etc.) are absolutely crushing it--their test numbers are commensurate with Wellesley and Carlisle, and with very different socioeconomic strata.

I could go on for days, but I don't want to accidentally let slip anything that would out my wife :-) Suffice to say that I am by no means a pro-charter person (generally, privatizing anything is a recipe for disaster), but I do think it's disingenuous to lump Texas and Louisiana's for-profit nightmares in with small charter networks in Massachusetts that are doing some pretty amazing things.

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There is so much nuance involved in this topic which is simply disregarded by both sides of the debate. My own experience has been positive. I see the pitfalls, but anti-charter people simply view everything as a right-wing trojan horse and speak in sweeping generalizations about the evils of the charter schools, usually without actual evidence. On the charter side, there is the familiar refrain of fat cat underperforming teachers or (more accurately IMO) a stolid and underperforming bureaucracy (thanks Menino and Carol Johnson for that!)

I've posted this before but I think any lifting of the cap needs to be done very carefully and slowly. There isn't some huge rush here.

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sounds like an "exercise in angry, misfit masturbation." ~ Charles

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Charterism is privatization on the public's dime, the worst of all possible worlds.

Perhaps true in some parts of the country -not in Mass where the vast majority of a school's money comes from the property taxes we pay and is then simply supplemented to cover things like renting facilities (which the "publics" don't have to do).

After many discussions I've come to the conclusion that BPS does a great job for kids with special needs/ESL etc. - they have the resources for that. The exam schools are also excellent - BLS being among the best in the country. HOWEVER - nobody's good at everything - and they are at best a mixed bag for the kids in the middle - many of whom are thriving in Boston's charters and should stay there. And for the kids who want to be in a charter and can't get in - we should make it available to them.

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You seem to be misunderstanding what privatization is... Yes, privately run charter schools get public money. That is what privatization is: a transfer from a model of government employees administering services for the public good to giving public money to private (whether for profit or nonprofit) entities and having them administer the actual service.

Charter schools are private administration of a public good, which nearly always results in perverse motives (see: for profit prisons). In this case, a motivation to put profit maximization over educational quality. Now, that may or may not be happening here in Boston, but it's definitely a huge risk of privatization: just ask New Orleans.

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Right here is where I need some explanation:

In this case, a motivation to put profit maximization over educational quality.

The charters that I have checked out here in Boston all seem to be non-profits, so there is no "profit" motive. So how is this working? I feel it deep in my bowels that this IS just a chance to transfer public monies to a private entity that will cut corners (principally salaries and benefits) and manipulate "indicators and metrics" to produce "results" that keep the monies flowing into someone's pockets (hint: not the tax payer). BUT HOW ARE THEY DOING THAT IN BOSTON??? I'd like to have some sort of proof. I mean superimposing my hippy-commie world view on everything is fun, but sometimes I need to have some talking points to win an argument at the bar....

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DigBoston published two pieces on how non-profit charters profit. I think Chris Farone was the author of both.

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Cool, thank you! I'll look those up. Farone's a good read (when he isn't stoned or maybe it's when he IS stoned....I can't recall now).

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The charters that I have checked out here in Boston all seem to be non-profits, so there is no "profit" motive.

lol...

Partners Healthcare is a non-profit, so there's no profit motive! Sure. No motive to get more money which is used to pay higher salaries.

In case you haven't noticed, being a "non-profit" actually just has to do with your tax status, not your motives.

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Yes. Well, Partners is just a tad larger than these charter schools. The individuals running these schools with a very small personnel (many of them lowly paid, young bright-eyed teacher types to be tossed into the burnout pyre) do not have salaries that absorb the amount of money we are talking about. Being a non-profit is mainly about taxes but it's also about a degree of transparency. You can check out what people at the top are making and I don't see anything way, way out of whack. So the question stands, how does this scam work?

But the issue of there being "non-profits" and there being "Non-Profits" -- from the NFL (which recently changed its status), Harvard University and Partners to The Friends of Piss-Trickle Brook, well yes, there should be some sort of distinction there.

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I don't mean to let facts impede anyone's ideological rant, but charter schools have to regularly renew their charter with the state. Your concern is real, but it's addressed by recertification requirements. Charters that are funneling money towards administrators would be less likely to be reapproved. That's the theory at least. If you have evidence that the theory isn't born out by facts, please do share.

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a facilities master plan being built that is composed of charter, public and parochial schools with information about "cross sector leases and co-locations"? There is lots of involvement from private foundations, including Gates Foundation, Walton Foundation, Boston Foundation, etc... When do the taxpayers and the voters get a say in what happens to our public schools?

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They've been getting grants from private foundations for years also. Check out the "external funds budgets". Some of this comes from other levels of government (state and federal), but a lot of the supplemental programs come from various foundations and charities.

This is nothing new in the public schools or other areas of social services. Should they give back the money?

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for foundations to make donations to BPS for particular programs or efforts. It's another things for these foundations, in Boston or outside of Boston, to be involved in facilities planning and setting policy. That is completely undemocratic. Boston residents and public school families need to have a voice in this process, and it is all being done behind closed doors.

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Charter schools wants access to publicly-owned facilities. Marty Walsh put private operators in the room with BPS long term space planning even before he presented his plan to BPS parents, families and residents of the city.

He didn't think a BPS parent was going to use a public records request to get this info into the public sphere.

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Closing public schools to finance charter schools, i.e. taking money from the public school system to a (semi-)private one, which is the subject at hand, is certainly "privatization on the public dime."

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Where do you see anyone closing public schools to finance charter schools?

This is patently false.

Apparently they have built a long overdue plan to close a number of schools - one more of those "vision" things that escaped Menino's politically motivated urban mechanic skills. It sounds like they will make them available to the parochials and charters as necessary - but they aren't using any of that money to "fund" those schools. They are closing the schools because Boston's school population has plummeted as students have fled the system and demographics have necessitated. From what I've read - any proceeds from transferring these properties are supposed to be used to upgrade remaining schools.

This is not privatization on the public dime - it's sound property management skills.

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Walsh is working closely with the Gates Foundation and the far-right, union-busting Walton Family Foundation to close 36 public schools and replace them with privately managed charter schools. In 2012, Boston was one of seven cities that signed a “Gates Compact,” agreeing to treat public schools and charter schools as equals. Boston received $3.25 million to sell out public education to the Gates Foundation and the billionaire-backed charter movement.

http://dianeravitch.net/2015/11/09/outrage-boston-mayor-plans-to-close-3...

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See my post below. Just cause you read it on the internet doesn't make it true. $3.25 million? Peanuts in a $1 billion plus budget (excluding charters). How much has the Gates foundation given BPS? I really don't know either - but it wouldn't surprise me if it were a lot more than $3.25 billion. And Bill and Melinda aren't exactly the Koch Brothers.

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His goal, a "facilities plan," is to close 36 public schools in order to make way for charters—and, it seems, for the city's parochial schools. Fortunately, a local blogger filed a FOIA request and got her hands on the relevant documents.

The blogger in question: https://publicschoolmama.wordpress.com/2015/11/

They're taking money from pot A and giving it to pot B. Spin it the way you want.

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Doesn't make it true. That's a conclusion she draws. It doesn't seem to jive with anything else that's been reported about school closures - and I have a feeling none of this would be legal. BPS has lost 20,000 students over the past 2+ decades - assuming 500 kids per school - that's room for 40 schools - or roughly the 36 mentioned.

Public school mama is a tad biased from her internet handle on down.

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"BPS officials have intimated that the mayor wants to get the Boston Public Schools down to 90 buildings.

BPS currently has 126 schools. Mayor Walsh plans to close 36 BPS schools, ¼ of the district."

36 buildings isn't necessarily 1/4 of the district ... if they're smaller buildings.

I'd imagine that, because any right to neighborhood schools in Boston is forever dead, it'd make the most sense to consolidate schooling services into as few buildings as possible, sited to maximize bus access. Fewer sites = fewer routes.

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I think there are still a few buildings that house two schools. It's possible under our system to close two schools and just one building.

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Then there's repurposing. They could repurpose a half-empty high school, fill it with elementary kids, and close five school buildings with a net gain in seats.

Yes, I'm looking at you, English.

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Otherwise, you'd be screaming to high heaven about the low quality of teachers that the charters seem to change like underwear.

"Teach for America" darlings stay a couple of years, burn out, and are NEVER well-trained in classroom management.

Charters ARE NOT performing as well as the public schools in MA. Far from it.

You just want the Walton Big Money Lunatic Foundation to do for our schools what it did for retail: shit jobs, low quality product.

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If you have a choice between "crappy" charters and publics - why are all these parents sending their kids to charters and so many on the wait list? They stoopid or sumpin?

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They stoopid or sumpin?

Why yes, yes they are. Or they're drinking the koolade, or they're ignoring the man who's not so very well hidden by the curtain, or any number of other forms of uncorrected ignorance that might well boil down to "stoopid or sumpin". They've bought what the charter advocates are selling; that's part of it. The other part is the tragedy of the commons: people believe, rightly or wrongly, that if they get their kid into a charter school, their kid will make out okay. The ill health of the system isn't their problem any more. It's a case of grabbing the whole birthday cake for yourself and leaving half a box of saltines for all the other kids at the party. So, stoopid/blissfully ignorant/selfish, which really all add up to much the same thing, don't they? If you're a Walton, you can take your billions and build your bunker and tell yourself that you are insulated from the world going to hell and everything you did to make it go there, and if you're a Walton you might be at least partly right. If you're not a Walton, you're just...stoopid.

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because they desire a better education than what BPS has provided for decades?!?! Are you kidding me? Charter parents love their kids and want what is best fro them, just like any parent. If that makes me selfish then I will gladly share that adjective with every parent who fights for a decent education for their kids.

My children have been in charters side K2 and they are doing wonderfully. This even includes the one who is on a 504 plan (aka sped). I know countless people who's children are thriving - not because the charter advocates said so, but because it is so. I visited 11 BPS before deciding on an excellent charter school. And so glad that I did because the BPS school my kids got into (Lucy Stone) closed soon after.

My spouse and I were born and raised in Boston and BPS has lacking my ENTIRE life! Stop pretending that charter school were born out a greedy rich man's desire for more toys. Parents were pleading, begging, and praying for something better. People running from BPS more than they are running to charters.

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but any parent who actually stays in the city instead of high tailing it to the burbs but looks for another option for their kid is just a selfish asshole?

Yeah...ok.

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They have been sold as a panacea for our educational ills, and what parent wouldn't want to buy into their mythical success story?

The problem isn't that itchy doesn't want to send his kids there. The problem is that the budgets at itchy's traditional school get impacted by the crappy charters, whether they're crappy or not.

If you've spent any time at a BPS elementary school lately you'll find lots of demand for seats, good teachers and enthusiastic students who are operating without funds for things like field trips or full-time PE teachers, etc.

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Have you ever taken a look at Boston's budget and how the BPS gets funded?

It's pretty simple - take the gross receipts of the city - multiply by 35% and that's the school budget. Don't believe me - go back and look - it's online as far back as 2003. +/- some noise- that's how it gets decided. Charters do not take a single red cent from BPS - and considering the BPS budget per student has continued to rise at the same rate as the overall budget AND there are thousands fewer kids - BPS budget has gone up tremendously (and even more if you factor in pensions which are increasing citywide about 10% a year).

If BPS is lacking funds - you are looking in the wrong place. They aren't in the charters. However, you may want to check under the couch seats in Dudley.

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for charter school bus transportation, for one thing.

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As far as I know, kids going to charters and private and parochial schools all get yellow buses from bps.

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that is right. BPS has to take on burden of transporting kids whose parents have opted them out of public schools.

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why use yellow buses as an example of the money that's being siphoned to charters when we're already paying for kids to be schlepped to St. Anatole's or wherever? I always thought it was a bit weird, frankly, but as long as we're doing it for one group, why not all?

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have read, there is a state law that kids in charters and parochial schools are eligible for yellow bus transport. I was using that as an example of paying for charter (or parochial school) costs by a district school.

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The service is provided to residents of the City of Boston who are attending school more than certain distance from their homes, regardless of the school being public or otherwise.

And by opting out of the BPS (and I am keying in on parochial and private schools) the parents are saving the city money, so as a taxpayer, isn't that a good thing with the transportation costs being a small portion being spent. I mean, $26 for a monthly T pass for middle and high school kids is a drop in the bucket compared to the overall per pupil cost. And yes, the K-6 kids will have higher transport costs.

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But don't forget a lot of these anti-charter people also think long time city residents shouldn't have access to the exam schools without attending BPS either so don't spend too much time looking for fairness from them.

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I'd be a huge fan of the exam schools only being open to BPS students. I have no respect and no patience for rich and arrogant suburbanites who have sent their kids to private school for eight years and now bully their way into Boston Latin because Daddy is a big obnoxious entitled piece of lawyer crap who thinks it's just fine for his special snowflake to have only the best even if it's at someone else's expense.

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rich and arrogant suburbanites

cannot send their kids to Latin (or Latin Academy or the O'Bryant.) You have to prove residency just to apply to take the exam. And that is something that the parents of public, charter, and parochial school kids can agree on.

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You know what I have no patience for? People who get all rabid about stuff they clearly know nothing about. "Suburbanites" as you call them cannot send their kids to Latin unless they lie about their address and most "rich arrogant lawyers" are living in school systems that are as good as BLS and have a hell of a lot more resources like you know...soccer fields, tracks, etc. Second, said fictional folks cannot "bully" their way into an exam school--that's why it's called an exam school and not a My Dad Makes More Money Than Your Dad school. The majority of kids who come to BLS from privates and parochials are city kids, some rich, some not (and btw, my kid was not one of them) who chose those schools over their local public for whatever reason. Yes, we navigated the BPS for elementary school but it was a bumpy road and I can't say that it would have worked for everybody. There is no way to reasonably exclude kids who live in Boston from applying and being accepted to the exam schools, though God knows I wish there were more support for under resourced kids to prepare and even to aim for them, including ISEE test prep which was near universal among a lot of educated families and virtually unheard of for the average BPS kid.

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clearly just a self-loathing suburbanite.

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... but one who clearly knows little or nothing about most aspects of Boston, but still feels the need to speak patronizingly to those of us who DO live here.

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There are residency requirements for the exam schools and you have to live in the city in the fall prior to your 'snow flake' getting to attend the schools. West Roxbury, Roslindale, Brighton, wherever the theoretical 'suburbs' are in your ignorant post are all part of Boston.

My kid doesn't go to a BPS school right now and as a Boston resident, I fully expect them to attend an exam school if/when they test in. It's got nothing to do with rich BTW, I suspect the average income of BLS represents the middle class, a group which is heavily under-represented in BPS overall. And that's fine, those families have made the decision as to what is best for their kids at that time.

Just like you did when you chose to not live in the city.

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have to stay open, be administered, and take any student who shows up at any time of the year so there are still fixed costs involved.

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And if yellow buses are involved, that level of transport could be a relatively fixed cost, but since BPS isn't paying for the heating of St. Whoozits Grammar School or the salary of its administrative staff, we can leave the costs within the buildings out of this debate.

Of course, when there are less and less students, schools could be closed, thus leading to a cost savings. It has happened in the past and could happen in the future.

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TFA recruits are typically excellent students with no training (5 weeks.) A friend of mine who taught for TFA in NYC said she was definitely not prepared to run a classroom. She also was required to teach topics which were not her expertise. TFA helped pay her college loans and paid her a poor salary for two years of work. She, like most TFA associates, moved on to grad school. Now she's at Tufts Medical School learning to become a doctor. Public School teachers are certified and have master's degrees.

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I'm seriously thinking back on the dozens of BPS teachers I have known during the past forty or do years when I was a student and then a parent. There have been some brilliant, kind, wonderful teachers. There have also been more than a handful--I can think of a dozen easily--who were awful. Incompetent, ignorant, lazy, cruel, bored. And nuts. At least six of those I can think of were borderline mentally ill. No exaggeration. There was little to no difference between the way the great teachers were treated and the awful ones were. I don't think I recall EVER a teacher being successfully fired or even removed from a particular school. And at least two thirds of these taught at a school with Latin in the name.

My point is--we can tell all the stories we want about TFA or charters but as long as the BPS feels like a f'ing coin toss as to what kind of education your kid is going to get in a given class or year, I'm not going to condemn anyone who's looking to do things differently.

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Sure, Boston charter schools might not perform as well as a public school in Newton or Weston. But, are you really telling us that an average BPS school performs better than an average charter school? As for "classroom management," there's no need for it when you have a classroom full of kids who are there to learn, not to deal drugs and cause trouble. Teachers need to spend their time teaching, not "managing" the classroom.

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the current situation was working--ie offering a choice of high quality products when in fact it's offering a very limited range of very mixed, mostly middle to low quality products, sending a lot of engaged consumers running to the er...other retailers like Brookline and Westwood and Newton as fast as they're able, via moving or METCO.

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Here's a Harvard study from 2009 which includes the following statement:

"Among novice teachers who entered the district in the 2006–07 school year, 55% were still teaching in BPS three years later, and 43% were still teaching in the same school":

http://sdp.cepr.harvard.edu/files/cepr-sdp/files/sdp-bps-hc.pdf?m=143144...

The Brooke has a turnover rate below 20%. So, present some actual data please about turnover, not edushyster regurgitation.

I've told you where my kid goes to school - where does yours go to school? What's your specific source for this opinion about the quality of the teachers? I've been very happy so far with the quality of these people and their dedication to the kids in the classrooms, in spite of the longer school year and longer school day. If you want to stake a claim that the charters are bad, fine, but don't slander hard working people you've never met or spoken with. I was also happy with most of the BPS teachers we've had for our family so I don't view this as black and white as you do, perhaps because you have zero idea what you're talking about.

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Certainly good with the special ed and exam schools, but part of the reason the schools struggle with "the middle" is they don't get to choose their students like the Charters. Having friends and family who have taught in both Boston charters and BPS, my take-away has been that in the charters, the answer to bad/disruptive behavior is "back to BPS you go". Easy to look good when you can retain the good and ship away the bad. Not easy to look good when that good leave and the bad are shipped back in.

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As a BPS teacher, we get a good number of students every winter from charter schools... most are students with IEPs whose parents report feeling pressured to leave or being told the charter school can't follow their IEP. Others leave because they were struggling with punitive discipline policies - being sent home for not having the uniform shoes on, excessive suspensions/detentions, etc. It also seems to take a toll on the kids' self-esteem.

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Would you want your kids in a classroom with kids at a charter school that were "good" enough not to be shipped back to BPS, or the gun-toting, crack-dealing ganbnagers at BPS? Come on now, be honest...

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if anyone doubts that Boston is still a racist city, I can point to your comment.

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But I have this funny feeling your kid, assuming you have one, isn't attending Boston English or Madison Park.

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Doesn't mean everybody else is. Boston Arts Academy is an example of a BPS school that doesn't have "Latin" in its name that does well.

Also, while I normally don't point out simple mistakes, Lord knows I make enough of them myself, somebody with your sense of smug know-it-all-ness really should learn that it's English High School, not Boston English. You're welcome.

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It's The English High School.

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2 kids in charter. Kid 1 receives SPED services. I have never been turned down or discouraged from getting services for kid 1. Kid 2 is in middle school with kids that I would describe as bad/disruptive. The kids have been there for years. I wish they would leave, but clearly the charter has not gotten rid of them.

I know that some kids leave charters when they learn they will be retained. Kid 2 has had several friends leave for that reason.

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Sure, my little papist heart heaves at the idea, but in reality, it ain't gonna happen.

If anything, charter schools are the enemy of the parish school, moreso than the publics, since those escaping (sorry for those who love the BPS, but it is the way of thinking) the Boston Public School and were willing to pay tuition for Our Lady of the So and So now see a free option. Moreover, when the Archdiocese was closing schools and selling them to charters, they realized that they were basically making the demise of Catholic education in the city snowball.

I do think the idea of coordination between publics, charters, and parochials is interesting, but then again the US and USSR also used to coordinate things.

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Boston charter schools lose 40%-60% of a class from 6th grade to 12th. They call this cohort loss and it seems to be in part how charter schools manage high average MCAS scores. Anyway, I think this issue will continue to get more attention. Charters need to be willing to educate all of the students they take, not just the good test-takers who behave without exception according to strict discipline standards.

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And none of this has anything to do with parochial schools.

However, I will try to be topical. In a pre-Walker era, Wisconsin gave vouchers for kids whose neighborhood schools were failing to attend any private school, even religious ones. That would not work in Massachusetts, not due to current views on religious education, but based on anti-Catholic bias in the 1850s. That's right, the Commonwealth is prohibited by the Constitution from providing assistance to Catholic schools, which leads me to scream "no discrimination in the Constitution!"

The transportation part is a bit of a loophole. I was happy that I was able to get a free T-pass when I was in high school. I guess they can pay to get you to a religious school, but that's where the cash stops, since the cash actually went to the T.

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Let's keep our schools uniformly crappy instead of giving the bright ones an opportunity to get a quality education and finally get out of poverty, amirite? Heck, BLS and BLA are racist, classist, ableist, discriminatory shitholes that need to be shut down ASAP!

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The Brooke is hoping to open a high school so then they can educate kids from K-12. That's what you want, right, for a charter school to keep kids? Or are you thinking that they'd then somehow weed out the 'bad' kids after 6th grade but then get a fresh batch in 7th to fill up the high school seats?

What's the 'cohort loss' for schools with AWC programs from 6th to 7th grade when kids start testing into the exam schools BTW?

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at the HS (arguably middle), minus a few schools, Latin,and a few charter schools, are an effing disaster and have been for a LONG time. And it's far from lack of funding.

I attended BPS off and on as a child, ending with two years at the HS level. Madison Park was my final assigned school, which fortunately I was able to avoid by getting into a parochial school at the last minute. I had no desire, neither did my mom, for me to be a guinea pig in a social experiment gone bad. I feel bad for the good kids who get stuck going to the shitty schools with the kids who don't respect school, come from a very dysfunctional environment, but whom BPS must accept. I'm afraid some things will never change. And of course the teacher's union (I'm not reflexively anti-union, but do object to public sector unions) are only looking out for their $ and benefits. They have far too much power.

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Is one huge lost opportunity.

The Globe this morning ran a front-pager about the imminent shortage of the kind of skilled labor that should be prepared by vo-tech.

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Not everyone will go to college so we need to fund for all types of learner now. Bring back vocational education now. P.S. I'm a BPS teacher who lives and has raised children in the BPS system and who regularly works 10 to 12 hour days teaching all students probably to the detriment of my own family. Mayor Walsh you should come and see our traditional public schools. You will find a lot of positive things happening. Charter schools AREN'T THE answer.

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Let's see - metal detectors have gotten better and more sensitive over the years so fewer guns and knives make it into school buildings, that's a positive thing I suppose...

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But they're not the devil incarnate either (nor are BPS in general but my experience has been mixed to say the least and I'm tired of the constant demonization of charter schools along with almost any kind of innovation that's been going on since I was a kid.

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Just updated the original post with a statement from the mayor's office.

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Walsh denies he plans to close 36 schools. That is all.

I heard 30 from two different sources. My point is that he's playing you with his denial non-denial.

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to the "untrue and unsourced accusations":

"The Mayor “has never said, nor does he have a plan to close 36 schools.” The Mayor has said that he plans to “consolidate” schools. How can he consolidate schools if he does not close some? Oh, wait—if he leases some of the “consolidated” school buildings to charter schools then the buildings will technically remain open. They just won’t be Boston Public Schools. Despite the expressed concerns of the Mayor’s office, the Blog post was sourced and linked to twelve relevant documents obtained in response to what Boston public school blogger Mary Lewis Pierce [no relation] described as a FOIA [Massachusetts Public Records Act] request. Among those records was an agenda for a meeting between the Boston Compact and Mayor Walsh and a Boston Compact talking points memo prepared for the Mayor in which the Mayor is scripted to announce and define Enroll Boston.

Despite the claims of the Mayor’s office, the Blog post was neither untrue nor unsourced. However the Blog is newly concerned by the reading comprehension levels of those entrusted with the education of Boston’s public school students."

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Rather than rant and rave about the how we are underfunding the schools (which along with what we sent to the state for charters consume about 40% of the budget - and that doesn't include pensions), why don't we start with a rational thought.

We have 54,000 students. Opening or closing schools isn't the question. It's how many do we need? Difficult without all the info - but that's about 600 per school (as opposed to the current average of 430 which seems small even for a small school - and like 1500 of these kids - 3 schools worth - are Pre-k which requires minimal physical resources).

The mayor can't just give these schools away. He doesn't have to convert them to luxury condos - but he does have to obey certain laws in the disposition of property (assuming the BRA can't get their grubby hands on them).

Rather than say "OMG - we are closing 36 schools!!" answer the questions a) how many do we need? and b) if less than we have, what do we do with the surplus?

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he didn't talk with the Olympic honchos
and he tried along with O'Flaherty to punish
city workers who spoke out against olympics,
He's got to be dreaming (hoping) for a warm winter
I can't wait till the first snow falls.

Signs are all over town, $150 fine for blocking the box
but who is enforcing?

he doesn't have my vote and to tell the truth he didn't have it
before!

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he doesn't have my vote and to tell the truth he didn't have it
before!

I'm not sure you get how this election thing works... If he got elected without your vote last time, why should he care that he still doesn't have it?

He may not have my vote (depending on who the other candidates are), and he DID get it last time, so that's probably a bit more relevant.

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...was that post in free verse?

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Right, we'll close the 36 schools and instead of leasing or selling them to charters we'll convert them into luxury condos. That will make everybody happy.

(I'm being sarcastic, before you get out your knives and pitchforks.)

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Are those who have rejected "reform" at every turn. Charter are out performing the majority of BPS schools. Shut the BPS school which haven't turned around in the past 20 year of promising to do so and replace them.

As a 4th generation Bostonian who has seen a lot of family move to the burbs because of the schools system, having a child i now understand why they moved.

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