Wu vows to vote against school budget without changes in elementary start-time plan

City Councilor Michelle Wu (at large) vows she won't vote for a school budget that would go towards screwing families at elementary schools that would start so early:

It seems to me BPS is attempting to rein in transportation costs at the expense of working parents who will need to find child care & manage the physical/emotional toll of young kids subjected to 11-hour days.

We all understand that it may not be possible to tweak a single school’s schedule without impacting others’. It’d be impossible to achieve later high school starts & universal 8-8:30am elem school starts in a cost-neutral way. But we need transparency on what the trade offs are. How much extra in transportation costs if each school started at the time that its families rated as ideal? What about w staggered times between 8-9am? ...

We need solid information on the costs and real discussion about trade offs before any plan should be implemented. There is certainly not enough time for that before the 2018-2019 lottery starts January 3rd.

Whenever govt is looking to make changes that would be hugely disruptive for so many residents who are too busy to be full-time advocates, we must have more time to receive & incorporate feedback. 4 weeks spanning the holidays is not acceptable.

So let’s halt implementation of any changes & properly reconsider — not just algorithms but real families & school communities.

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Geez, Adam.

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Do your kids go to the Lyndon? This is a few hundred unhappy parents in a school system with 57,000 students. Enough cow-towing to them.

Try reading this for a non-West Roxbury perspective.

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Geez, Anon

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We have one daughter and she graduated BLS last year, so I have no dog in this fight.

But a non-Westie perspective? I mean, besides that of Wu, who also doesn't live there? OK, how about the NAACP and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights? They issued a joint statement yesterday:

The burden of these changes will fall disproportionately on families of color. At last night's School Committee meeting, Superintendent Tommy Chang highlighted BPS' recent Equity Analysis of the change, contending that the change is spread equally across racial groups. However, this ignores the fact that parents of color are disproportionately in lower-wage jobs, and are less likely to have the flexibility needed to build their schedules around a school day that ends at 1:15 or 1:55, let alone pay for any resulting need in afterschool care.

BPS' proposed change would move more than two-thirds of all Black and Latino elementary students – and almost 80% of Asian elementary students - into disfavored start times before 8am and after 9am. While it may be true that large percentages of White students will also be affected, surface-level "equity" that does not take into account the reality of families' lives is simply no justification for a harmful policy change.

Complete statement.

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Sorry.

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Had meant to link to an article where the author went to a community meeting in East Boston expecting parents to be up in arms about the changes, only to find many parents welcomed them

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28 schools up from 5

will start at 7:15AM next year. All five of the current 7:15AM BPS schools are Tier 3 schools aka "among lowest performing 20%". Think the bell time might have something to do with it? Next year there will over 25 of these schools.

Second, when we given the survey to fill out around start times, parents were never informed that a 7:15AM start time was possible. And 90% of survey respondents requested a start time between 8 and 8:30AM.

Third, our child who will now be dismissed at 1:15PM next year, she will be in school for at least 9 hours a day, and we will have to pay for 4 of those hours. My partner and I both work but what about single parents? Can they afford the extra child care? Is it fair to have a 4-7 year olds in school for 9 hours a day?

Fourth, what about high school students that pick up or watch after siblings after school? How will they do that if they aren't released from school until AFTER their sibling is already dismissed?

Fifth, why weren't the charter school times affected by this? BPS pays for their busing, shouldn't they be accountable to the same schedule changes?

Sixth, during the 5 hours of public comments at the BPS school committee meeting, not one parent/teacher/administrator spoke in favor of moving elementary & middle school start times to 7:15AM.

Finally, the same researcher that BPS used for shifting school times in HS states in her research that earlier start times at the elementary level leads to higher rates of behavioral problems.

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This is *not* just a few

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This is *not* just a few hundred people in West Roxbury. There are now over 8,000 signatures to the petition in 6 days. The parent facebook group that started 4 days ago already has 1,000 followers. And if you watched the 5 hours of testimony at the school committee hearing you would know that parents in every neighborhood are up in arms. Thousands of impact statements were turned in and one councilor reported getting over 10,000 calls. Matt O'Malley says he's never had this many calls on a single issue in 7 years.

Are you a city hall employee trying to promote Walsh's "silent majority" stance? Because we aren't buying it. Do your homework.

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Reality check: It is THOUSANDS across the city.

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This is *not* just a few hundred people in West Roxbury. There are now over 8,000 signatures to the petition in 6 days. The parent facebook group that started 4 days ago already has 1,000 followers. And if you watched the 5 hours of testimony at the school committee hearing you would know that parents in every neighborhood are up in arms. Thousands of impact statements were turned in and one councilor reported getting over 10,000 calls. Matt O'Malley says he's never had this many calls on a single issue in 7 years.

Are you a city hall employee trying to promote Walsh's "silent majority" stance? Because we aren't buying it. Do your homework.

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Lyndon schools' parents are

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Lyndon schools' parents are advocating for their children?! The horror!!

Also, the Lyndon isn't the only school whose hours are being changed by 2 hours, so instead of assuming Lyndon parents are all whining, take a minute to look at the other schools affected by this change.

And before you go assuming all kinds of other things, I don't have any children enrolled in the BPS, so no need to assume anything else.

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It took months before a

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It took months before a majority of Bostonians opposed Boston 2024. It took less than week for opposition to this plan to coalesce for stakeholders.

Joining many parents in opposition of 7:15 start times is a state senator and state rep, the city council president and 5 other city councilors including the two who championed late high school start time, and many members of school committee who, after parent testimony on Wed, told the superintendent to take the advice of the parents.

There's more to the story than Walsh is willing to disclose because there's no apparent reason to go to the mat for this implementation

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I have to admit I thought that at first

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But this is definitely NOT just an issue of white JP and WR parents who are used to getting things their way. As Adam mentioned, the NAACP analysis shows that these start times will dramatically affect low-wage earners who will not have the flexibility their white-collar counterparts might.

Is there an intersection with concerned parents who might not have attended a school board meeting when they closed the Mattahunt? Yes, absolutely. But as one gentleman from Mattapan at the school board meeting said: "we are used to getting screwed [...] your power works the way it usually works,” referring to the white parents, “maybe it’ll help my kids, too.”

I think a lot of BPS parents are waking up to the fact that if we let Walsh steamroll families on this that's just the beginning of more budget cuts, consolidations, and closings that he will pursue in the future. There's no shame in standing up for your own kids while also standing up for kids from communities that have been disproportionally affected by the budget cuts in past years.

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Flexibility

You are right: some people have more flexibility, and hence more choices, than others. Bad situations, like a 7:15 start time, will end up being shunned by those with better choices. The result will be a greater burden on those without flexibility. In our paradigm of choice we can glibly write that inequality of result off as the embodiment of different priorities.

That said, they do need to close some schools.

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Geez Anon

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If you believe that the concept of changing school start times - which have been established for decades - is so necessary and good for EVERYONE, then why hasn't BPS bothered to provide us with some RELEVANT real-world evidence, as opposed to research, theories, and questionable examples like "but, it's been used in school systems that are 1/3rd the size of Boston, so it will definitely work here as well" of implementation, that this significant and disruptive change to parents and others will actually improve the academic performance of the STUDENTS enough that it will totally outweigh the very real issues and problems the change will create for everyone involved.

Until we start looking at this issue on that metric, and that metric alone, we will never be able to have a meaningful debate on the matter.

Oh wait, BPS will never do that. Because, as we all know, this "change bell times" is just a thin smokescreen to justify cutting costs even further.

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You know what you should do?

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You should write your city councilor and tell him or her that the BPS should just go back to the old start times.

Oh, wait....

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Good schools everywhere?

Maybe if we had good schools all over the city, with real transparency and accountability of our elected officials as well as the school department we could have good schools all over the city like Brookline, Newton, Hingham, Wellesley, etc. (in other words, cities and towns where the citizens require their elected officials to provide good schools) and we wouldn't have to have busing and thus have more money to make the schools even better.

Instead we have this hodge podge of some good schools, some not so good schools that make everyone in the city go through inane games to figure out where their kids are going. (PS-funny how the politicians kids always get into good schools, usually their 1st choice, and close to home)

The 30,000 foot view of this Rube Goldberg machine is absurdity. It's no wonder no politician wants to take responsibility or accountability of this bloated, inefficient system that costs too much and delivers not enough.

But again, until the citizens vote for something better, they will keep getting these wild swings and diversions that don't really address the issue of why aren't all the kids getting a good to great education.

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You can't say

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that the schools need to be improved, and then complain when they try to make improvements. This is beneficial to the whole BPS ecosystem, people need to back away from the myopic view of how it will affect just their particular school.

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Of course parents care

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How a change will affect their particular school. These are their kids they're worrying about! When my son was in school, I would have fought tooth and nail against any change that would hurt him. That's not myopia - that's caring parenting. A system-wide change that helps most but badly hurts some is not acceptable. Minor inconvenience is one thing. Major disruption for kids and families is something else, and worth fighting.

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Meanings

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I would have fought tooth and nail against any change that would hurt him.

You mean you would have fought things that you believed would have hurt him.

Or that you would just fight change, period.

That's the problem.

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This is not beneficial to the whole system.

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In fact, the systems own data says that more people are actually in the least preferred time slot. Rather than improving the scheduling for as many as possible, BPS chose to make more people dissatisfied, but made sure that the dissatisfaction was equally distributed.

In other words, BPS chose the worse outcome for more children and families, but is okay with it, because that outcome is dispersed across races equally. RACE TO THE BOTTOM.

Sadly, this is the same attitude for our schools -
Less quality across the board, but as long as everyone is equally hurt, BPS is perfectly satisfied.

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Why?

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I find it odd that there has not been a word from the teacher's union. Something tells me this is more about the adults than the the kids at the end of the day.

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How?

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That’s still a bunch of members who have to be at work by 7. Were I a BTU member having my shift starting 2 hours earlier, I’d be tracking down my union rep asking when the grievance will be filed.

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Exactly

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I would have thought the same.

And yet crickets from the teachers.

An early start for sure, but if the option was to start some schools even later, the teachers opted to keep their afternoons open. But they just keep silent so the brass takes the heat.

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The schools do need to be

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The schools do need to be improved. Maybe that’s why one of the committee members suggested they look at each school individually and then figure out implementation.

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This is such a reductionist argument

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Maybe if we had good schools all over the city

Teachers and principals are incredibly important, but they are not magic. A lot of kids have things going on in their lives that reduce their ability to perform academically. A good teacher can do great things, but they can't erase the scars of abuse, the damage of poor nutrition and hunger, the stress of poverty, the effects of poor parenting, the effects of medical disabilities or an inability to receive proper medical treatment, the consequences of bullying, the stress of family instability, the stress of homelessness, and the effects of miscellaneous trauma like neighborhood violence.

Lots of kids are suffering, and no matter how great their school is, they will not be able to perform well because they have other things going on in their life that are taking all of their mental bandwith and energy. This is a big reason why there are "bad" schools: they are filled with kids whose primary needs are not being met, and therefore they cannot meet the secondary needs of academic performance.

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Imaginary friends?

The communication failure throughout this process has been that it was initially presented as a positive change for BPS high school kids without any discussion of a possible negative impact on K-5 kids. Don't push a message about how great this improvement will be for one segment without being completely upfront about the downside on a different segment of the population.

So, 3 months ago someone well might have been saying this was going to be a great improvement as not all the pertinent details were available.

Which is the standard MO for BPS.

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