I’m calling it: Mayor Walsh is not a friend to public education

Guys, I know that it is early in the game, but I’m calling it. Marty Walsh is not a friend to public education. In fact, he may be an enemy.

Boston Public Schools are in crisis. There is a 60 million dollar shortfall. Services are being cut, teachers and staff are being fired. My son’s small school is losing Special Education teachers and a social worker. The staff was already providing supplies out of pocket.

So the mayor decides to hold a chat about education on Facebook. I honestly thought he would use the chat to calm BPS parents’ fears.

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But here is what happened.

This is a fundamentally dishonest response. Yes, they have increased the city contribution by $36 million. But state and local funding has been reduced and costs have gone up. So BPS started with a $90,000 shortfall.  He didn’t acknowledge the reality of her comment. Schools are making painful cuts.

But here is a question he did answer!

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More charters? Yes! That’s just what we need! The fact that they are unfunded mandates from the legislature isn’t a problem. The fact that more charters would mean more financial hardship for Boston schools isn’t a problem. Sorry that you are losing funding for teachers and art. Let’s privatize more schools!

I found the whole thing very interesting. Especially in light of the fact that I know at least a dozen parents who haven written to Marty Walsh expressing their concerns about the school budget.

I don’t know a single parent who has received an answer from his office.

All of this has leads me to believe that he is not concerned about Boston Public Schools. Because if he was, he wouldn’t be advocating for more charters in the face of a 60 million dollar shortfall. What kind of a mayor does that? Who advocates for the schools’ resources to be further depleted.

I will tell you what kind of a mayor. A mayor who is ok with the school system being privatized. A mayor who is not losing any sleep that urban schools are discharging their social workers.

Now I don’t believe that I can convince the mayor that turning over public funds and real estate to private entities is immoral (even though it is). But I will tell him one thing. Education is nonnegotiable. Send one of your minions out to the playground at pick-up time. You will not hear calls for your head. But you will hear one thing: Contingency Plans. Abandon the schools, and families will abandon Boston.

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13 thoughts on “I’m calling it: Mayor Walsh is not a friend to public education

  1. I think you pulled out the two key things here: he didn’t respond to what I know to be the biggest concern from BPS parents now (and rightfully so) and he DID definitively come down on lifting the cap on charter schools.
    That’s disappointing (‘though I wish I were more surprised, frankly)..

  2. Some great points and some great comments. Nice job of calling it on the “fundamentally dishonest” effort to claim there’s anything going on here but a cut to the budget. Really, they want us to all to pretend that’s true?

    Staying in Boston is a commitment. Sending your children to Boston public schools is a commitment. For a long time, the parents of BPS families have been more committed to our schools than the city has been. This kind of action (or inaction) reminds everyone of that. The city needs to be as steady and as committed to our schools as we are, or it doesn’t work. Like you say, it has families thinking of contingency plans. And families that were considering BPS are making different plans.

  3. That is one of the things that I find so discouraging. Parents and Teachers have put their heart and their souls into creating great schools for our kids. And our politicians are just so ready to sell us out.

  4. Like this article except for the end. Parents who move their children to suburban schools, private schools, and home schooling are part of the problem that creates a vicious cycle in which public schools can be gutted and/or privatized. Making this threat just sends that message that we’re in it just for our own children, not for all children. We need to be united behind the nonnegotiable premise that every child should receive equitable, quality public education.

    • Yes, every child should receive a quality education. A good start on that would be Boston not doing things that generate more buzz that the public schools are in a crisis. BPS and Marty Walsh: Inspire faith, not fear. Every day, every year.

      But Liam, when you find yourself telling other parents what to do with their children, you need to stop yourself. Ask yourself, who died and made you those kids parents? You’re not in those parents shoes. You don’t get to decide.

      Make BPS a choice people want to choose, that’s the only way we will ever know if we really ARE giving every child a quality education.

      Ayanna Pressley’s mother chose not to send her to public schools. Does that make her a bad person? I guess you’d say she should she have done it anyway. BTW, Chicago public schools have only gotten worse, not better. Where would her daughter be today if she had?

      • I want to say that I understand where you are both coming from because it is kind of like a Prisoners Dilemma in game theory. If every parent stays in BPS and advocates it is better for everyone. But if a critical mass leaves it is VERY bad for those who stay.

        The frustrating thing to me is that BPS is a very good school system right now. But our leaders are so willing to sell us out to private interests instead of asking hard questions about equity and the achievement gap.

      • I want to say that I understand where you are both coming from because it is kind of like a Prisoners Dilemma in game theory. If every parent stays in BPS and advocates it is better for everyone. But if a critical mass leaves it is VERY bad for those who stay.

        The frustrating thing to me is that BPS is a very good school system right now. But our leaders are so willing to sell us out to private interests instead of asking hard questions about equity and the achievement gap.

      • Parents can chose to educate their children however they want. I’m not addressing people who are ideological opposed to public education as they are already a lost cause. I’m addressing people who believe that equitable public education is the right thing but at the same time don’t want their own children in public schools. Again, it’s a choice that parents can make, but I also reserve the right to judge them and consider them enemies to the cause of public education.

        Right now we’re in a fight for the public education in the city of Boston and I want to stand alongside other citizens invested in public education. I don’t want to have anything to do with people making plans to bail out that are only available to the due to their privilege.

      • “I also reserve the right to judge them and consider them enemies to the cause of public education. … I don’t want to have anything to do with people making plans to bail out that are only available to the due to their privilege. ”

        Wow. Let’s start with – most of the people choosing charters, parochial schools etc in Boston are not people of privilege. I guess they are your enemy anyway, though. It doesn’t seem very fair, and you don’t seem to understand what they are up against.

        Let me suggest that you shorten your list of enemies. Other parents are pretty much not the enemy. Attacking them just spares the people who need your focus from your wrath. They like that.

        In fact, those self righteous attitudes probably do more to hurt than help the cause.

        And don’t forget, you are talking about real people with real children. I don’t know if you subscribe to any moral, ethical or religious system – but I’m sure anything this side of Objectivism would condemn that kind of judgementalism.

        Oh yeah, and rename that list from “enemies” to “people whose realities I need to understand so I can have a real conversation with them, show them some respect, learn something, and reach the solution that’s best for all of us.” Or for short, just “people.”

  5. Objectivist? That’s a new one. I’m usually called a filthy socialist.

    Obviously, Bob S., you and I disagree. I think that political exploitation of public schools is aided by parental disinvestment. You think otherwise. .

    I hope to continue advocating for public education for the rest of my days, and I hope others will too. If that’s not your cause, I respect that. I just want to know who is on my side when I go into the fight. As the old song says, “Which side are you on?”

    • Yeah, go there. You’re on the right side of everything. I hope that makes you feel better about yourself.

      And if you really think that kind of judgementalism is OK, you definitely are doing more harm than good.

  6. Hey; I have to say that we moved to the ‘burbs because we believe in public schooling (both of us went to public school and are sending both of our kids to public school) BUT we were looking for the best schools to educate and challenge our kids AND we were fortunate enough to have the means to live in our ‘burb.

    That said, I wanted to thank Googie – Your writing has made me change my mind completely about charters and other “alternative” schools. Because I went to a state-wide magnet HS before coming here for college, I was inclined to support them without thinking it through.

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