July was quite a month for EduMom. We took a brief hiatus following not one, but FOUR deaths in my family one right after another. It’s definitely been quite a journey — and my family has been so appreciative of all the kind words and positive thoughts we’ve had sent our way. We’re grateful.
(One of the remembrances in memory of my Nana, Joan Gorman.
Also sending love to my dear aunt, Catherine Duerr, my uncle, Robert Murray and my aunt Peggy Gorman who we also lost in July.)
During the past several weeks I’ve had the opportunity to spend alot of time with my own family — and even more time with my other family — the members of Massachusetts Parents United. In the past ten days, I’ve traveled to every corner of the state, met with hundreds and hundreds of parents and had real conversations about our work moving forward.
(MPU members in Springfield.)
In communities where parents barely engage even in the winter months, dozens and dozens have packed MPU meetings to discuss our Parent Action Agenda to build safer neighborhoods, stable homes and equitable access to high quality education. For the first time, parents feel as if they are finally being heard and are working together on proposals and solutions to address the issues we are facing every day.
(MPU members presenting their work in East Boston.)
Watching these parents working together inspires me to want to take action and work harder. And it has made me stop and reflect on where we really are and where we’ve come since question two, the ballot question to increase the number of charter schools in Massachusetts.
I find myself becoming more and more disgusted with many of the “social justice” folks in my own community and others who fought so hard against schools that really seem to address some of the major issues around equality in our education system.
Having debated question 2 literally more than 116 times during the course of the campaign, I’m incredibly familiar with the excuses presented by the teachers unions and others in the opposition camp.
Most of their rhetoric boiled down to, “We love charter schools. It’s just the funding formula that’s making things unfair. Nothing personal.” This was the excuse that families were forced to stomach while over a hundred thousand children languish in schools that are failing.
But the struggle we are facing here in Massachusetts — getting shut down on education innovation — with no alternative path forward is not ours alone. We all watched in horror last week as the NAACP shut down the voices of their own members and the people they have pledged to represent — and instead chose to cave to special interest groups who made them a deal they just couldn’t refuse — while selling out the people who need them the most.
(Chris Stewart’s piece is an amazing analysis of this sham-event and he gives a breath taking play by play — it’s a must read:
"The AFT and NEA are the two most politically powerful and cash strong organizations in the nation. Education is a $600 billion business. Business is good. It’s theirs. Parents in poverty, and their children, have no such entities with equal power to defend their best interests.")
And FYI: Although the No on 2 folks would still have you believe they were the David in the Question 2 fight — they got almost as much money — and nearly all of it from their out of state backers in Washington D.C. … (NEA and AFT) … so let’s stop being cute here …
The bottom line is this: inequity and gaps in achievement have existed for generations for black and brown children. But instead of marching on the boss to demand a more equitable system that actually works for our children, we’ve allowed our voices to be co-opted and hijacked at an attempt to destroy the very schools that have been able to demonstrate real outcomes for our children.
Instead of organizing to vilify the charter school that has proven it can teach black and brown kids how to read, do math and understand science — why not demand better from the system that has failed generations of our kids?
Instead of giving Randi Weingarten a standing ovation letting her buying us off with a big giant pot of money as long as we bleat out her talking points — why don’t we demand answers and hold her accountable for being more concerned about making excuses for her membership’s lack of results for our kids?
And here in Massachusetts — why don’t we asking where all of these “education heroes” of the question 2 campaign went — and what their plan is to address the staggering achievement gaps these children are facing? You didn’t like our idea to expand the charter schools that are actually getting results for these kids — SO WHAT’S YOUR IDEA, EXACTLY? And no, we’re going to need a little bit more than the same old “just give us more money” song you’ve been singing for 40 years. What’s the plan exactly?
I’ve actually been spending a fair amount of time in my own community asking these “No on 2 community heroes” what they plan to do from here, only to be met with blank stares and others stammering through excuses about not really "understanding education policy." They’re now on to the next cause and whatever “progressives” have determined is the in-vogue battle of the day — meanwhile, kids like mine are still screwed with no plan to even address the problem.
As we’ve addressed on EduMom before — the push to justify killing testing seems to be the only new issue to discuss in Massachusetts. Because, you know, if we don’t do any testing to see if there is any problem, no problem will ever exist.
With this kind of thinking, black and brown parents will be relieved of the burden of being saddled with data that actually backs up that sinking feeling they have that their children are getting a sub-par education. And all of our “progressive” education leaders can fight to ensure our children are able to engage in the best yoga deep breathing techniques and can give a great bear hug.
But reading? Math? Science? Well, that’s just not for everybody. We’ll just have to cross our fingers and hope they find their way through college or actually land a job.
I’m not crossing my fingers. I want a plan. I want accountability. And I want it ASAP. You’ve had your year of making charter schools your punching bag and the excuse for why you can’t seem to get your collective act together for our children. Time to start talking about it and start being about it. Every minute that ticks by is another wasted opportunity to get it right.
What do you think?