Here we go.
Yesterday I got an email from the union front group “Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance” Executive Director Charlotte Kelley:
I mean, I was around a good chunk of the day Wednesday and Thursday — didn’t receive anything saying that there would be no field trips, the school library was closing or no books at our schools this year — or any other neighboring district. (If YOU did, please email me at email@example.com — would love to see that.) Where was this news?
Why all the catastrophic language? The teachers unions may have finally got the message that people are starting to notice that they have no real plan to improve our public schools, despite the fiery rhetoric and promises on the campaign trail back in 2016.
Don’t you remember? “We know our schools need to improve. We just can’t add more charters. We hear you. We’re going to do something real this time. Just not this.”
There has been no something. No ideas. No proposals. Just an attempt to kill all testing and accountability because robbing us from our ability to determine whether schools are actually serving our children and holding them accountable for actually doing it is JUSTICE according the MEJA. Oh, and we’ll need more money. Lots more money. But just don’t ask us what we’re doing with it.
So call me skeptical when the Boston Globe starts talking about “parents up in arms” after the legislature failed to pass an education funding bill this year. Charlotte Kelly definitely doesn’t speak for parents.
Parents want more money for education. Yes, we do. But funding for things that will actually impact children in the classroom and improve the quality of education they are receiving. And we expect RECEIPTS.
Let’s get down to the actual facts:
So, like — we all realize that even if the Senate budget HAD PASSED, Boston would not get any additional funding under the proposal, right? Under the current system, Boston is actually over allocated. The Senate bill would have brought exactly zero dollars into Boston Public Schools. There was also no mechanism to actually fund the bill. Where was the billion dollars (or two?) going to actually come from? In addition, the House bill had more guaranteed money right up to 2024.
The majority of comments I’ve read from folks around this situation are absolute garbage and lacking substance to the point of irresponsibility. To be frank — literally the ONLY PERSON worth listening to in this conversation at this point is State Representative Chyna Tyler — who actually, like, represents the neighborhoods that could really use our help in Boston:
You see, throwing billions into a broken system haphazardly is not a solution. We need targeted money for the things that are actually going to improve our school systems. A plan. Tangible outcomes.
LeBron James could walk up to the doors of Madison Park tomorrow and hand them a check for $200 million dollars and they still couldn’t turn it around — because the systems within the school are broken, the leadership of the school has failed and the relationship with parents and the community is fundamentally broken. (And for the record, Madison Park needs to be shut down and we need a brand new, state of the art vocational technical high school to serve the children of Boston — and the idea we don’t have a viable vocational option for students in BOSTON is absolutely OUTRAGEOUS, but that’s a blog for another day. Oh and Lebron’s new school? That’s what we in Massachusetts call a HORACE MANN CHARTER, but again — tune in next week.)
Listen, if your school doesn’t have enough money for crayons and carpets, it’s a safe bet that you’ve got an administration that probably attended the Paul Manafort Academy of School Finance (an affiliate of Trump University.)
Your school committee has also probably negotiated you into a ridiculously unsustainable teacher contract (maybe like the one in Boston — you know where the average salary is $98,000 a year for 180 days, 22 days of PTO and nearly free healthy care? Yeah.)
I mean seriously, how many Assistant to the Literary Coach Lead Development Distribution Chief positions does one need at the $125 billion dollar Central Office anyway? And forget Boston — why aren’t we pulling the payroll records of every gateway city in the Commonwealth to see how many non-teaching $100k positions are in these school districts and track down some carpet and crayon money THAT way?
(If our friends in philanthropy really wanted to make an immediate tangible impact on schools, why not try funding a school financing management team to straighten this crap out?)
Some school systems need additional funding. But that funding should go for things we know can address the trauma-impacted, opportunity gap plagued districts that need help now. We can’t trust school districts to do this without some accountability. And if you’re willing to just throw money at these problems without it — you’re not on the side of kids. You’re posturing and playing political games because you want to find a quick fix that makes you look good on paper — but does nothing real for those of us out in these streets.
But what do we know? Why is it our business? We’re just parents.
Oh wait, you’re right. That means it’s entirely our business.