Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why are the schools so bad?

I attended the Boston School Committee meeting at the Lewis school in Roxbury last night where they were presenting their plan for changing the school zones from 3 to 5 zones.

First note is how difficult it is for challengers. Councilors Turner and Yoon got to come in late, take the microphone and say they are against the 3 to 5 zone change and then leave early without having to listen to what all the people have to say. I waited for 2 hours to hear what the parents and students had to say and to hear the Superintendents responses.

There was a lot of concern for the Timilty and two way bilingual education. One young student got up and eloquently asked why we as a society are not funding the schools and not taking care of those less fortunate. She received loud cheers and applause and drum banging. The superintendent said that we need more revenue and mentioned the meals tax and casinos(!?) as possible forms of revenue.

The superintendent clearly cares about kids and education and is impressive in her knowledge of the schools and the programs. An interesting point she made is that she said that where there are arts programs in the schools they have seen better results. She also mentioned that "we don't have enough of any of the things we need".

This contrasts with Menino's recent statement about the building that BC recently bought on Commonwealth Avenue where he wants to make BC pay the difference in lost real estate taxes. He said that now we can't afford to be giving things away for free!


According to his superintendent we don't have enough of the things we need and since the schools now are better than ever according to the Mayor why was it okay to give things away for free in the past? Why doesn't the media ask him these tough questions?

After the meeting I went outside and spoke to the young woman and her mother who asked the question about why society isn't taking care of those less fortunate. I congratulated her on her eloquence and explained to her about how Menino has been giving our land and money away for free to rich connected people and that is one reason why we can't afford what we need in the schools. I then asked where she went to school. Sure enough, she was a senior in high school at Milton Academy. Her mother said they had tried the Boston Public Schools but that they weren't providing a good education. She is an activist and an advocate for the schools because she lives in the city and knows how bad it is. Needless to say, perhaps, but there were no elected officials around at the end of the meeting.

1 comment:

Steve Wintermeier said...

Good question - we spend $22,000 per student per year when you include all expenses (operating funds, external funds, capital budget, pensions and retiree benefits). How is it possible to spend $550,000 per class of 25 students (not including millions spent on other youth programs and tens of thousands of volunteer hours in our schools and libraries) and somehow come to the conclusion that more money is going to solve the problem? Capacity permitting, we could send ALL of our kids to exclusive private schools for that kind of money.

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