Hundreds of BPS students walk out to protest school budget cuts

Protest against BPS budget cuts

At 11:30 a.m., hundreds of high-school and middle-school students walked out of their classes at Boston schools and streamed onto buses and subways for the ride downtown to let the mayor and the governor know they don't want their programs cut.

They swarmed out of Downtown Crossing for a rally at the Parkman Bandstand on the Common, followed by a march up to the State House and then to Faneuil Hall. Mayor Walsh, who was attending a press conference at Faneuil Hall to announce that Boston would host a conference for millennials who want to get rich, got into his car and left without talking to the students outside. Perhaps he heard them booing his name and vowing to make him a one-term mayor.

Heading to the State House:

Student protesters
Student protesters

Although Mayor Walsh has announced a $13-million increase in city funding on BPS, school officials say they still need to make cuts because of previously negotiated salary increases, transportation costs that did not come down after assignment zones were rejiggred and other increases. Much of the $50 million in cuts will come in centralized services such as janitorial services, but high schools will all have to make cuts - some have already announced plans to lay off librarians and eliminate some foreign-language classes. Elementary schools are largely spared because they have fewer discretionary programs to begin with.

Students chanted "What do we want? Education? And if we don't get it? Shut it down!"

Student protesters
Student protesters
Student protesters

Some protesters were silent as they held their signs:

Student protesters
Student protesters

And one protester took it out on a presidential candidate:

Student protesters

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Comments

Good for them

By on

I hope they stay smart about it. There are good activists and bad 'activists', and young people don't yet know enough to always pick the right role model or advisor.

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Chaos

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They all congregated in Downtown Crossing near Primark. Not sure if that's where the protest ended. There were some fights/altercations among students, one girl was hauled off in cuffs. Easily 25+ police(Transit and BPD). Looks like they shoulda stayed in school instead!

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No news is bad news

Looks like they shoulda stayed in school instead!

I'm sure most students don't condone the violence. If there wasn't these protests a majority of the city wouldn't know about the cuts. Now at least the topic is out there and it isn't just parents who are aware.

I'd be pessimistic much will change as a result but it hardly supports Walsh and puts schools front and center which is a good thing.

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Most student

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Acted like a bunch of belligerent thugs - I saw it, and I'm glad there were plenty of cops around.

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No

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There may have been issues with some kids at DTX, but the vast majority peacefully exercised their First Amendment rights. I know, because I was in the middle of them all for a couple hours.

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Who was fighting? Was it

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Who was fighting? Was it fights breaking out among the students? Or, was there a counter protester(s)?

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Adam. Please.

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He posted it on the INTERNET. You can't just make things up when you post them on the INTERNET. I suppose we're supposed to value "journalistic integrity" and a "long history of providing boots-on-the-street coverage while the two fishwrappers in town are busy writing opinion pieces about the Olympics" over the word of a guy who was there and saw those thugs in action?

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Thugs, Really?

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Why are you calling them thugs exactly?
Thugs are violent criminals. I have seen no reports of people being arrested at the protest. Even if we pretend there were some arrests, a small minority of students do not represent an entire group (that was largely peaceful) and they do not give you license to accuse them all of being criminals.

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Pretend?

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So, should we ignore the fact that there were in fact arrests and fighting and simply pretend, whatever you meant by that? And as a matter of fact that percentage does represent the entire group - the loud, violent ones are the leaders that everyone else looks up to.

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Imagine...

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...if one of these kids sent 3,000 Americans to die in an immoral war.

You'd be really bent out of shape because if you weren't you'd by a hypocrite.

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Care to share

Your sources on "fights and arrests"?

Other than our imaginative anons here who swear that they must have happened?

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Fights and arrests

Unfortunately, there was at least one brawl resulting in three or four arrests. I saw it and know that it happened. I also know that there were well over a thousand other well behaved kids at the rally. So while some may want to use an isolated incident to tarnish the rest, the lie isn't that it happened, but that it was widespread.

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Thank you

You are a reputable witness (some anons were claiming fighting in times/places where I was there or could see from my window). Thanks for reporting in.

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True story

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I work on Arch st and confirm this happened. The students were congregating at the intersection of Winter St and Washington. There was one girl being led off in cuffs. Something about throwing a water. It was quite an energetic and fired up group of students. Maybe cause of the protest? Or cause they werent in school?

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So, by your small minded

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So, by your small minded thinking, the other 3,490 peaceful demonstrators disobeyed their leaders????

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To clarify...

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I thought my original statement was dripping with enough sarcasm that I didn't need to put the disclaimer, but it may have fallen flat. "Thugs" is a word with some notoriety around here, and when the commenter above me referred to the student crowd as such, it got my dander up. Obviously the student protesters are not criminals, and the folks who are dog-whistling otherwise are schmucks of the highest order.

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Erik G. Please.

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Erik G. Please.

That fight at downtown crossing was AFTER the Walk Out. Those young people were dealt with. It has nothing to do with and and in no way diminishes the fact that THIRTY FIVE HUNDRED STUDENTS GATHERED IN PEACE!

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Define "a bunch" because I

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Define "a bunch" because I was near the rally at the State House before heading to Park Plaza and the worst going on was loud chanting, which is to be expected at a rally.

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Oh Hai Plural Challenged Anon

Enjoying your unicycle? I know that you can't handle the plural of the word "wheel", either.

Those of us who got caught up in the swarm have a different story to tell. Energetic? Yes. Noisy, of course. Belligerent? Nope. One kid who was kind of dancing around walked right into me, but then apologised profusely and his buddies were helpful, too.

Perhaps you should go back to school and learn how to use your words properly.

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I saw it too, work outside

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I saw it too, work outside downtown and was there during entire ordeal. Yes the kids got into scuffles with eahother but the majority of the chaos was caused by unnecessary police intervention and antagonizing

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It's okay to have an opinion

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It's okay to have an opinion but please do not call my peers and I, "belligerent thugs". That would be greatly appreciated because us "belligerent thugs" care about our future and education. Instead of criticizing us youths, you should expand your vocabulary to more positive words. Thank you and have a blessed life.

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Really?

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I was at DTX when they were emerging. I think you have a very vivid imagination.

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Most Remained Focused

I shadowed much of the rally and march, and while I did see some fights and arrests, such activity was not a significant feature of the event. Most of the kids were well behaved and orderly. This was true on the 'T and downtown.

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Local TV news is reporting

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Local TV news is reporting that some studens were throwing bottles at cops. That was disappointing to hear.

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2/2500

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And this is what the media focuses on, to stoke your fears. The students were 99% bold and brave.

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So protestors that throw

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So protestors that throw bottles at the cops (1 T cop caught a bottle off the head) isn't newsworthy? There's a fine line between bravery and stupidity

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It's newsworthy

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But it is not the lede. The Herald did a good job reporting on the walkout that mentions the incident at the end, which is where they put similar incidents at the end of parades.

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Most of them were protesting

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Most of them were protesting peacefully which should also be mentioned. I believe they may have walked to the State House.

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Imagine if

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they employed the same zeal to their studies as they do this walkout. My cynical opinion is that most of the students used this event simply as a skip day and that if funds magically flowed into BPS as a result of this walkout then the students would not suddenly find algebra or calculus or any of the sciences or English/grammar or history any more interesting.

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opportunity cost

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so maybe they missed 3 hours of classroom instruction. That's nothing over the course of a school year.

On the other hand, if this galvanizes some move to increase funding, that's a big win for the students.

What's the real opportunity cost to skipping an afternoon here?

Put aside all the complexity around funding, budget, union negotiated salaries, etc... I mean just from the student perspective.

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I doubt it.

I tend to think that kids who want to skip a day of school won't then go to a massive protest. These kids all seem to feel pretty strongly about protesting the budget cuts - probably because they're smart and studious enough to understand how those cuts can harm their education going forward.

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high-school kids

I'm sure high school kids are probably knowledgeable about who organized this, and why they were demonstrating. I think whoever was behind this, though,should have left the 7th and 8th graders who are younger and less knowledgeable out of this.

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Many of the students

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do apply the same zeal to their studies. Who are you to assume otherwise? My son was worried about repercussions from leaving early, but ultimately decided to do it. It was not a "let's get a day off" kind of thing. He had already been in school for 3.5 hours. And many of these kids are protesting the loss of teachers, librarians, counselors, in some cases that would leave schools unaccredited.

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As someone already said, if

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As someone already said, if they wanted to skip, they would have gone home, not to the Commons or State House.

Considering that the students are not protesting about boring classes, you are probably right, those classes won't be more interesting next year. But, I think you are missing the point. The students are fighting for the opportunity to go to fully-funded schools. They are fighting for the opportunity to go to schools where the internet works in every classroom, where there are less than 30 students in a class, where they can take language electives or art classes. It doesn't matter how engaged or disengaged a student is, they are all acutely aware of the disparities between school districts with money and those without. They may not know the numbers, but they wouldn't be shocked to know that Newton's per-pupil spending is $15,000 while Boston's is $5,200 (next year it will be $4,900) because that is their reality. So yes, some students viewed the walk-out as a chance to skip class, but the majority didn't. The majority are tired of having a lower quality education (and then being personally blamed for not having a good education).

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The $5000 figure is what each

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The $5000 figure is what each school gets per pupil...the rest of the money goes to the central administration to pay for transportation and the many levels of administrators salaries.

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F*ck Trump? I don't get the

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F*ck Trump? I don't get the connection. Is this student mad that Trump has tons of money? Or maybe Trump is supposed to donate to the schools?

Maybe that kid should've stayed in class.

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Its possible to be against

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Its possible to be against two things at once. In this case school cuts and a politician who consistently retweets white supremacists on Twitter.

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It dilutes the message

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If the issue is cuts to school funding, talking about how the state has cut funding or how in real terms the city has been cutting funding would be on point. Noting in concrete detail the effects of the cuts reinforces the message.

Talking about Trump makes this a general protest for the sake of protesting. It kind of reminds me of the protests in the runup to the U.S. invading Iraq back in '03. There were signs about Palestine. Palestine! Yes, American foreign policy towards the Middle East might have been poor back then (and perhaps now), but there were concrete reasons not to invade Iraq. Making the message "U.S. foreign policy stinks" didn't make any fans for those vacillating on the issue, like myself (who thought there was no actual evidence to support the Bush administration case.)

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Same thing unfortunately

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Same thing unfortunately happened with the Occupy Movement. A well publicized public attempt at getting income inequality and lack of economic opportunity welcomed everyone with open arms and became completely diluted with everyone's pet causes.

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"What do we want?!"

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"A bunch of different things that will be fully spelled out once we arrive at consensus!"

"When do we want them?!"

"Now!"

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Racism

Trump's primary platform is to blame all of America's problems on immigrants and minorities. The RNC's central plank is to cut funding for every public program except the military. Seeing as how many of these kids (and their friends, parents, etc) are immigrants AND this is a story about funding cuts it's not an unreasonable to link Trump to these problems on a broad sense.

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Nah,

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Nah,
I disagree. Remember, they are not cutting funds..

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Who isn't cutting funds?

The city signs contracts valued at X and only increase funding by Y so the net result has to be cuts somewhere.

If you get a $400/month raise and your rent goes up $500/month at the same time you're worse off even with the raise.

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Yes, but you aren't making less money

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It's a bit pedantic but important. Schools are underfunded because the city has failed to plan to cover the obligations they made to the BPS employees and to some extent SPED requirements. The city should not be claiming to be surprised by budget issues when they were a party to these contracts.

To use your analogy, if you get a 400/month raise and know your rent will go up $500/mo in six months time, you shouldn't act surprised when you have a budget problem in six months time.

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Are the schools acting surprised?

Yes, no one should be surprised the cuts were coming but how is that relevant? From the student's point of view the circumstances leading to the cuts is irreverent.

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Worse off is not the same as cutting funding

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That's what I was trying to explain by building on your example.The City knows a lot of what it's obligations are going into the year and these cuts should be planned for or prevented in my view. It feels like Walsh, Chang, etc... are presenting this as unanticipated bad news.

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But a lot of municipalities do this

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my parents' school district does this every year at budget vote time, sends out a flier that says "We have X expenses coming for this year, vote for the budget or there will be cuts!"

And then X expense is "oops we deferred routine maintenance on the roofs of three schools for 30 years, and now they're swiss cheese and our kids are wearing ponchos in class!." When really, roof maintenance is something that should be included in the facilities budget. Or "The teachers negotiated a step raise in their contract 7 years ago and it goes into effect this year! Give us more money or we'll cancel music class!"

All of those things are important (music class, step raises for teachers, roof maintenance) but they are all things that should be budgeted for in advance, not left to the last minute.

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Budget increases every year.

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Budget increases every year. Are they explaining it to the kids that the money is getting gobbled up in administrative costs? I doubt it.

It makes for an easy sound bite though and easier for the kids to grasp onto.

I've seen this in a town I lived in, how some of the teachers used very young vulnerable children even though the school budget was increasing annually. The teachers made a chart in the kids cafeteria with a list of all the teachers names. They then told the children that if they didn't get what they wanted, more $, the teachers whose names were crossed out would be gone. Needless to say parents found out and it wasn't a hit. So yea, I'm not as impressed by the kids because I am very doubtful they have all the information.

Mine was just one example but I'll bet it's pretty much the norm in schools during budget times.

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You cut funding

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When you give GE a huge tax break to come into the City.

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Where's the money? Fuck Trump!

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Does the person with the "Fuck Trump' sign realize Mr. Trump is not in power yet and has nothing to do with their cause? As a young black man, he best be careful displaying language like that. Hillary Clinton might attempt to bring him to heel.

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Well

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I would have voted for her if she had the guts to stand by what she said (i.e. drug dealers and gangbangers indeed need to be brought to heel,) but that's certainly not the case - BLaM-BLaM, fuck whiteness, hail blackness, vote for my (rich white) narcissistic ass, etc. Hope Bloomberg jumps in so there's someone actually worth voting for in this grand farce of an election.

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oh my god

I didn't think commenters could get any more ridiculous than Fishy, but here you are: the platonic ideal of a terrible comment. Hats off to you, my manichean little anon. Keep beating on ceaselessly against the current.

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Battle for Boston Common

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I was trying to get into Park street station when the kids started fighting and they turned on the Transit cops and undercover cops who were trying to gain control of the common and it turned ugly as the kids outnumbered the cops by the hundreds.

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These kids are being used in a scheme to line adult pockets

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BPS budget has been steady at about 35% of a budget that has been increasing about twice the rate of inflation.

Here are some numbers over the past 10 years:

2006 Total BPS students (per state website) - 57,349
2016 Total BPS students (per state website) - 53,530

2006 total staffing (per BPS budget docs) - 7790
2016 total staffing (per BPS budget docs) - 8624

2006 total teachers (per BPS budget docs) - 4436
2016 total teachers (per BPS budget docs) - 4578

2006 other staffers (per BPS budget docs) - 3354
2016 other staffers (per BPS budget docs) - 4046

So we have 11% more staff (and very few of them teachers) serving 7% fewer students.

And most curiously - I believe it was in January 2006 that Richard Stutman, head of the teacher's union, pronounced the budget "barely adequate" or some similar phrase. How is it remotely possible for the schools to be so grossly underfunded and understaffed if it was barely sufficient 10 years ago and now there's almost 20% more adult supervision per kid than at that time?

Sounds to me like the kids shouldn't be complaining to the elected officials - they should be complaining to the school administration about what an inglorious disaster they are as prudent stewards of the school system.

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Thank you, Stevil

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...for speaking the truth that few know or care to know about the BPS and it's "budget woes."

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They should talk to elected officials AND the school department

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There's a budget hearing tonight if you'd like to voice your concerns to the superintendent and the school committee. English High, 6:00 PM.

What I find troubling about this year's budget isn't necessarily the comparison to the budget from ten years ago. What I find hard to swallow is that:

  • The mayor says this budget is adequate to staff the schools without any cuts to services
  • The school department acknowledges that it is well funded compared to other big cities' school departments
  • The school department also acknowledges that school budgets are really suffering this year

To get this turned around, something's got to give. If the mayor is serious about making BPS his priority and certain that this funding level is adequate, he should be doing whatever he can to get the school department to use its money more effectively. If the school department can provide legitimate reasons why the current level of funding will necessarily result in cuts to services, or if they believe there are important new initiatives that are worth funding, they should be able to make a strong case to the mayor for more money. If they acknowledge that they are well-funded but can't manage to give schools more than the bare minimum that they need then, well, they should be ashamed of themselves.

Sadly, it feels like the mayor is taking a wait-and-see approach instead of pressing the issue, and the school department isn't doing enough to advocate for its students. In my opinion, both sides could be doing much more than they are.

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I bet

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they're going to hire some really, really top notch consultants to investigate why they spend so much money on things like consultants.

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I have a prior commitment

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But if anyone wants to read this at the meeting, I'd love to know their response. I'll ckeck to see if this is the last of these hearings.

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There are many explanations

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Your is a very "all things being equal" comparison. There are many reasons that BPS could still be under funded even though there are fewer students being taught by more teachers and staff. The number of ESL and special needs students could be increasing, thus requiring a higher level of work to maintain results, and thus warranting additional compensation. The school system could have raised its standards for what qualifies as adequate results, thus requiring a higher level of effort, and thus compensation. The teachers, and staff, over the past ten years, may have expected their pay to rise annually, as I suspect everyone who is employed does. The system could have started hiring more highly qualified teachers and staff, who could negotiate higher pay. The school system could have decided to modernize or expand its offerings, thus requiring greater expenditures. Given that few people are content with the services provided by BPS at the moment, it is not surprising that the school system has been expending more resources to try to improve those services. That costs money. No one has yet made the case to me, convincingly, that teachers are over paid at BPS.

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Except

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Every year they say the budget shortfall is to "level fund" the system. That is - do next year what they did the year before. They NEVER talk about improving the system in any way.

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Impressive student actions

I tip my hat to Boston students. Between the BLS and this it's good to see kids taking a stand about their own education. Things might not be resolved in their favor but it makes the city discuss "unpleasant" topics which are important. It also goes against the argument that city kids are apathetic slackers.

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disagree

I think you'd feel differently if you had kids going to middle school who left school in the middle of the day because some source they could not identify was organizing this.

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Nope!

I'd talk to my kids and teach them why not to follow the wisdom of the crowds if I really thought they were being brainwashed. But more likely I'd support them protesting for the day if it was a topic they felt strongly about.

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I've observed some city councilors supporting this

demonstration. That's their political position. So now I want them to specifically point to where the money can be cut in administration and transportation. You know those places within the school department loaded with council hack jobs. There is a $15 million dollar increase to the budget with funding at $1.03 Billion dollars. If the councilors believe , as many proponents do, that the School operating budget should represent 50-60% of the city budget then have the courage to say it publicly. Tell us which departments should be cut to achieve this goal. Crickets...

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Maybe we just agree to give

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Maybe we just agree to give fewer grants to Mega-Businesses coming into the city - a la GE??

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Really?

Including the Traffic Jam Creation Bridge and all the other gimmes they are getting?

Oh, and those "jobs" they are "creating" aren't exactly jobs being created - they are people being moved here to increase traffic, further overload transit, and add to the tax base of the suburbs.

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No matching T shirts and pre-printed signs like Charter Rallies

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I always wonder how when Charter Schools have a rally with their students, parents and teachers I rarely hear how they should be in school. Certainly not from Governor Baker who praises their passion while meeting them in the State House or sending a video message to their rally

I also wonder where they get the $$ multiple buses and matching T-shirts

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/11/18/charter-school-backers-rall...

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/09/22/baker-lift-charter-school-c...

There are some excellent charter schools in Massachusetts. I just don't know how you can talk about lifting the cap when you aren't funding existing public schools

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Same way Union's get busses

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Same way Union's get busses and t shirts - they organize! Maybe they all pitch in. You could do the same.

But...They are not cutting funding!.

Why is that so hard for people to grasp? Until they do, they will not begin to address the issues at hand.

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Yes, cutting funding is on the table.

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"Although Mayor Walsh has announced a $13-million increase in city funding on BPS, school officials say they still need to make cuts because of previously negotiated salary increases, transportation costs that did not come down after assignment zones were rejiggred and other increases. Much of the $50 million in cuts will come in centralized services such as janitorial services, but high schools will all have to make cuts - some have already announced plans to lay off librarians and eliminate some foreign-language classes."

That sounds like cuts to me. Not from the official city budget, but recommended by school administrators who, ya know, are supposed to be advocating for more money for their schools. I support the kids, the administration? Not so much.

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Really?

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Just read the comments for the articles you posted. Plenty of criticism of kids at that rally in there.

That first article also featured the head of the BTU stating that the charter schools should not be able to rally parents to support charter schools which is an interesting take.

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With education comes dignity.

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With education comes dignity. Excelling in education means getting into college. Excelling in college means career choice. Career choice means money in your bank account. Then you will never have to pissed off at the privileged class. For you will be part of the privileged class! But if you fuck up, it's your own damn fault!! Keep up the good work to all you students who want to make something of themselves!!

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Actually, I happen to think

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Actually, I happen to think that working hard in school, at your career, your marriage, whatever is timeless advice. Do you disagree? What exactly is so 1985 about the previous post? Do you have more articles from The Guardian that you've cherry picked that explain why everything is doom and gloom for Millenials?

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No longer enough

It isn't a guarantee any longer, and all of those steps mentioned are extremely expensive.

I have a teen and a 20-something, and I can see the huge difference in wage levels between then and now.

Great advice if you are ALREADY RICH. Otherwise, all the hard work in the world won't help you if the costs are too high and thus the task is, put simply, just completely fucking impossible to complete.

1985 is pretty much the last time any of that worked for most people.

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What a

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cretin. Won't even address the students or listen to them.

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If they aren't union members

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If they aren't union members or John Fish or Michael Bloomberg types Walsh doesn't give a damn what they think because he hasn't been paid by them to them to do so.

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Wasteful spending , Mayor

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Wasteful spending , Mayor Walsh is more focused on the city's real estate infrastructure such as the pedestrian bridge on northern ave and weather there should be a Ferris wheel on city hall plaza, , nothing wrong with that bridge, still it will cost tax payers $100 million to replace it, that same $100 million could have been used for Bpschool system. Another thing is increased fares on the MBTA young people who are living off minimum wage can't afford to take train anymore in Boston. The

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Good for our students!

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Adults cutting education = intergenerational theft. It's unjust. Good for these young people getting out there and making their voices heard.

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My parents would NEVER

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My parents would NEVER condone me skipping class for something like this. We didn't have a lot of money and I didn't go to a fancy private school or an exam school, but they were extremely strict about my education. I went to public school and there were certainly harsh budget cuts throughout the years. We never had AP classes. We didn't have a football team and the library wasn't getting any new books and we had to provide most of our own school supplies. You have to be smart when you try to affect change. In my town students attended the town meetings about the school budget -- we didn't skip classes to congregate in front of town hall. We probably would have faced suspension for that. Unfortunately it seems as if no change will happen from Boston students skipping class to protest. Stay in school. Be smart.

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