On Tuesday night, October 26, BPS parents, students and staff from schools threatened with closure or merger turned out in droves to protest the School Committee’s plans at English High School. They were passionate, well-informed and united. And they were mad.
In an article Tuesday morning, the Boston Globe reported that in an open letter to Boston families, “Superintendent Carol R. Johnson had lauded her recommendation to close six low-performing schools as a way to ‘move students into schools and classrooms that get results.”'”
“But,” the Globe noted that, “in many cases, Johnson is urging affected parents to choose schools for their children next fall that are faring about the same as, or worse than, their current schools. In letters sent earlier this month, she encouraged some parents to enroll their children in schools the state has designated as underperforming.”
“Around the city, the letters are adding further insult to parents, students, and staff of the schools slated to close, who dispute the district”s characterization of their schools as low performing and are fighting to keep them open.”
Last night’s meeting gave speakers from the Clap, Emerson, Lee Pilot and Lee Elementary School, the Gavin Middle School, the East Zone Early Learning Center and from 3 schools at Hyde Park High Complex “ Community Academy of Science and Health (CASH), The Engineering School and the Social Justice Academy “ a chance to challenge the superintendent’s claims. Over and over, they argued that their schools were making progress “ without the extra funding of the ‘Turnaround Schools'” and that the job of the BPS was to support those positive steps.
The Superintendent did announce some modifications to her original plan. The CASH school at Hyde Park HIgh would remain open and the East Zone Early Learning Center would continue as a 0-K2 school.
BTU President also made some brief “ but pointed “ remarks that received a big round of applause:
“I am Richard Stutman, president of the BTU, and I stand here in support of the hundreds of people who are protesting this ill-conceived plan.”
“We are here because we care about our schools”and these are good schools”and we decry any attempt to close our schools under false pretenses.”
“The schools chosen are not under performing schools, they are not dysfunctional schools.”
“This proposal has nothing to do with educational concerns and all to do with economic concerns.”
“We call upon you, as representatives of the people of Boston, to get out to each of these schools, observe its operation, study its data, and then look staff, students, and parents in the eye and tell them that closing their school and moving their children will result in a better education.”
“The truth is, there is no guarantee”not even a remote possibility”that moving children out of these schools will result in a better education for the children who currently reside there.”
“I call upon you start all over and re-do this process. To close these schools primarily because they are small or because you want to re-use their buildings or because you promised their building to a charter school”is a disservice to all of us who care about our schools, and will only drive more people away from our schools, especially those that work well.”