A letter to State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz

Dear Senator Chang-Diaz,

I’ve written you before but I feel compelled to write you again. The Massachusetts Association of Charters has sent out an email saying that there will be a vote on Tuesday. They are already claiming victory.

I wanted to write you want one last time to ask you to please not abandon Boston Public Schools. Here is a little of my story. My wife and I were married in 2004 when it became legal for gays and lesbians to marry. That was an amazing feeling. I never thought I would be married! For the first time in my life, I really felt like a citizen. I was a citizen of Boston.

When I became pregnant a few years later, all of our friends and family assumed we would move to the suburbs. Everyone knew that the schools in Boston were terrible (so they said). But we loved Jamaica Pond, and the Lantern parade and Wake Up the Earth. Jamaica Plain was where we felt comfortable. So we decided to take our chances.

Imagine how surprised we were a few years later when we realized that we loved our son’s elementary school. There was another lesbian family in the class, and the teacher was even a lesbian! More importantly, he is thriving emotionally and intellectually. The teachers are so dedicated and intelligent. They are able to differentiate the curriculum to match children’s abilities and interests. My son was nurtured and excited about learning.

But now when I pick my son up from school, I look around, and we know the staff that won’t be there next year. The social worker who works with children who are disruptive or having problems at home so that the teacher can focus. She’s been laid off. The paras who work with special needs kids will be gone. We are losing our physical education program, Playworks, so the coach will be gone too.

I am hoping that the charter lobby is wrong. I am hoping that you haven’t forgotten us.
But just tonight, my wife and I discussed where we might move to. As much as we love Boston, you can’t send a child into an empty schoolhouse. It is simply not fair to them. You have one chance to educate them. We are definitely feeling like we are witnessing something we love being dismantled.

I am asking you to please not raise the charter cap. I know that you are looking for a third way. Not surprisingly, I am very leery of this idea. I hope your third way funds BPS. I don’t see how you can multiple systems in one city and fund them all. There are only so many kids, and there are only so many dollars.

But please don’t forget us. We don’t have the million dollars that the charter lobby has. But we have worked so hard. The parents hold the schools together. And we hold the community together too.

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