Friday, February 10, 2006

Thoughts from St. Charles on St. Fleur

Writing from St. Charles Street, in New Orleans.

It has been fascinating watching the Massachusetts political gyrations from New Orleans this week, while here in Louisiana two more elected officials have been indicted, and the state legislature has been called into special session to try and reform New Orleans City Government and the patronage strangled Levee Boards. AG Reilly should have returned our phone calls and enforced the court order obtained by his predecessor Shannon, and proved that he isn’t really above playing politics. If he had the guts to enforce the law on the Boston City Council and Menino he would have truly shown he believes that no one is above the law. Instead, we see that although by all accounts he is a decent and honorable person he is a part of the democratic hierarchy led by Menino, et al. that does not often answer to the electorate.

I’ve known Marie St. Fleur casually for years, as we share a mutual friend. I’m struck by the similarity of her parents’ story with that of her own. Because she, like her parents, understands that education is the key to success in the modern world. The story of her parents working long hours cleaning and doing other hard jobs so that she could get a good education and go on to law school is the familiar American Dream Story. Clearly her parents had to make hard choices every day about what to buy, what bills to pay, and what luxuries, if any, they maybe able to enjoy.

Marie and her family have clearly had to do the same thing. What an indictment of the horrible state of the Boston Public Schools her story is. When an insider elected official who could presumably get her children into any school in the Boston Public Schools decides to send her kids to the exclusive Beacon Hill private school Brimmer and May you know the schools aren’t good. Many teachers and school officials assure me that the connected Krewe can get their kids in where they want them—no coincidence that Mayor Menino’s grandkids are in the best elementary school in the city.

But what is more scathing is that Marie has decided a good education for her kids is more important than paying her own student loans, or paying her taxes. I can hardly think of a more real world example of why you shouldn’t send your kids to BPS.
It is no coincidence that of the 8 City Council at Large finalists last fall, none of them went to non-exam Boston Public Schools.

I wish Marie would speak up and out about the poor state of the Boston Public Schools that a large percentage of her constituents who don’t have her financial clout must send their kids to. But, I don’t remember any public statements from her about the tragic state of the schools, just words of praise for the great job the Mayor is doing. Apparently not great enough for her to send her own kids there, but good enough for those that vote for her.

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