Shaking my fist at Court Street

I had a meeting with the mayor’s office yesterday. It was long and intense, and I didn’t quite know what to make of it for a bit.

But let me back up. If you raise kids in Boston you will have the opportunity to experience the dark labyrinth of the Boston Public School System. BPS is now attempting to change their school assignment process. For purposes of my story, suffice it to say that I am concerned that BPS is breaking up existing school communities in order to better serve families that live near good schools. And everyone I know is freaking out about this.

As in so many things when you start to fight for a cause, it becomes not so much about the issue, but about the fact that your voice is being ignored. So you start shout a little louder. And then a little bit louder. Next thing you know, you’re THAT mother.

I was concerned about all of this.  I’ve been tweeting my fingers raw. I called up the mayor’s office, and said, “I want a meeting with the mayor.” I got the feeling this was an unusual request. The lady told me to write a letter asking for one. So I did.

I thought the letter would be ignored, but then I got a phone call. The mayor was out of town. But would I want to meet with his educational advisor? Yes, I would.

I grabbed a couple of friends and headed over to City Hall. We met with Martha Pierce who was really lovely, and listened intently to what we had to say. We made a handout to give her. We wanted to make sure we were clear.

The meeting was about to wrap up when one of the mayor’s senior advisors joined us. Somehow she managed to be placid and confrontational at the same time. The meeting would probably have ended earlier but we wanted to argue with her.

She was also shockingly young. She kept looking at her phone, and redirecting her answers. I felt like jumping over the table and shaking her, “HOW DARE YOU BE SO CALM.”

But of course, I didn’t. I smiled and pressed my point.

Like I said, it soon becomes about something else.  Senior Advisor kept telling us about how parents want neighborhood schools. But aren’t we BPS parents? All of the communications out of BPS state how parents want neighborhood schools. That’s interesting because I know a lot of parents who have signed this petition asking for BPS to slow down the process.

Photo from Boston race riots over forced busing

I have no doubt there are parents who are happy with these changes. The city has decided that they are going to listen to them instead of us. That is bad enough, but I wish BPS would stop pretending that they are being responsive to me. Stop telling me this is what I want. I don’t want this. There are a lot of people who don’t want this.

I walked by Court Street the other day. I found myself raising my fist and shaking it at them. I have lived her for sixteen years, but I feel like a real Bostonian now.

BPS is really a fascinating story. Here are some links below:

Racial and social backdrop to school assignment process:

The Atlantic: Bostonians Committed to Diversity Haven’t Given Up on Businghttp://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2012/10/bostonians-committed-school-diversity-havent-given-busing/3544/

New York Times, New Boston Busing Debate: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/education/new-boston-busing-debate-4-decades-after-fervid-clashes.html?hp&_r=0

Judge Garrity’s role in desegregating the city: http://www.suffolk.edu/moakley/garrityguide.html#anchor41840

Current Proposals:

Five BPS Proposals to change assignment process: http://bostonschoolchoice.org/

Alternative Quality Choice Plan from Councilor John Connolly: http://www.qualitychoiceplan.com/#!home/mainPage

Why Some People are taking issue with this:

My friend, Karen Kast’s, testimony at the School Committee Meeting: http://roslindale.patch.com/blog_posts/my-testimony-at-boston-school-committee-regarding-school-choice-proposals

A Harvard Study showing that proposals would create more inequity and less access to schools for minority students: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxicHNjaG9pY2VhbmFseXNpc3xneDo5MjBhNjBjNTMxZjcyMmI

A report from the Metropolitan Parents Planning Council that says the exact opposite: http://www.mapc.org/sites/default/files/MAPC_BPS_AssignmentMemo_10_12_12.pdf

And an online petition asking BPS to slow the process down: http://signon.org/sign/a-petition-to-stop-the

Quest Quality Education for Every Student: https://www.facebook.com/questbps

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2 thoughts on “Shaking my fist at Court Street

  1. Pingback: Mothers in the Legal Profession Roundup No. 274 | The Attorney at Large

  2. I grew up in Charlestown but attended Catholic schools. My children were raised on the South Shore. As a result, I have never attended a Boston public school, nor been the parent of an attendee. Bit nothing sends my blood pressure sky-rocketing like busing.

    I can’t ever believe it’s the answer to anything.

    Garrity, Kennedy and the others took a problem and instead of solving it, made it infinitely worse. They managed to spread the misery around so that even people not involved suffered. No one’s education was improved.

    If you believe that your neighborhood school isn’t for your child, then to my mind, the answer is to make it good enough. Figuring out the best school and snagging a spot there naturally leaves other children behind.

    I firmly believe, then and now, that if people had put the same energy and money into improving the schools instead of into busing, you would be very happy with your neighborhood school.

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