Earlier today, someone snapped a screenshot of a Facebook post by Boston Mayoral candidate Tito Jackson:
When applied to the battle around charter schools in Massachusetts, as my friend said, you could have lifted that line right out of the movie “Waiting for Superman.” Why are affordable housing lotteries so unfair and unjust — and their massive amounts of applications indicative a “reminder of Boston’s housing crunch”– while the thousands of families struggling to find relief from schools that are failing their children and forced into the purgatory of a charter lottery rollercoaster just fine?
On background, if you’re not familiar with Tito Jackson, he is a Boston City Councilor who decided to make himself a champion of last year’s “Save Our Public Schools” campaign and one of their main surrogates. As far as I can tell, the move was entirely political — a strategy based in the hope that by becoming a champion for the Boston Teachers Union and the Massachusetts Teachers Union, they would support him in his bid for mayor with money and field troops.
I mean, why else would a former METCO kid, whose parents decided to CHOOSE a different educational path for him because the Boston Public Schools were an UNDERPERFORMING HOT MESS and enter him into a LOTTERY to get the chance to leave the district and eventually graduate from Brookline High School suddenly hate the idea of giving other families the chance to opt-out.
(To be fair, some say it’s all about the budget and the education funding. BPS now gets over $1 billion a year in funding and funding for district schools has increased by 25% over the last five years. And unlike Tito’s METCO education, Boston actually gets reimbursed for BPS kids who choose charters as THEIR option.)
I have long said that if I had the amount of hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance going on in my head that Tito Jackson MUST experience on a daily basis to simply justify his view of education policy in Boston, I’m not sure I’d have the neck strength to pick my head off the pillow in the morning.
And for the record, this strategy doesn’t seem to be working very well for Tito. Outside of a handful of NoOn2 zealots on Twitter, the ground troops and the money simply haven’t materialized.
Charter schools don’t want to have a lottery. They want to accept all the kids who apply to be a part of their school. But they can’t. Because there are too many families trying to attend their schools. Therefore, the Commonwealth has legislated that there must be a blind lottery amongst all of the families who apply.
What is a blind lottery? Everyone’s name gets thrown into the hat and drawn out randomly by number. Oh, and there’s rules and regulations around how that is done, too. So please remove your tin hat and save your “BUT BUT BUT THEY PICK THE KIDS THEY WANT!” crap. They don’t.
Not convinced? Visit one. They’re in March usually.
Charter school lotteries are public. They are heartbreaking. It can be the best day ever for some families who realize how screwed they are getting in failing schools and now have a door that’s opened for their child to finally get a real shot. It can be the worst day in the world for the families who don’t get in — because they know their child has been sentenced to another year in a failing school. There are tears in both instances.
On a personal note, when my Miles was waitlisted last year, I found out while I was in the middle of an important meeting with a bunch of fancy folks and immediately burst into tears. Worst. Day. Ever. But honestly, I couldn’t even help it.
The bottom line is this: in BOTH situations — we didn’t choose waitlist life, waitlist life chose us.
And that’s thanks to people like Tito Jackson. Who thinks affordable housing lotteries are the epitome of injustice, but expects us to just suck it up and take one for the team when it comes limiting options for children seeking relief from failing schools.
File under: Choice for ME, but not for thee.