On June 7, QUEST (Quality Education for Every Student), a grassroots parents group, released a series of City Hall emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that disclosed how city and school officials have worked to keep secret school closing plans and in the process have mounted a campaign to mislead the public narrative on same. We thank the parents for their work.
For more information, see the report from the Boston Globe, “Parents say records show Walsh quietly aims to shut schools.”
See this December 16, 2015 email between Ramon Soto, Mayor’s Director of External Relations & Opportunity Gap Initiatives, and Rahn Dorsey. The email concerns the reworking of the City’s media messaging about school closings prior to the release of the short version of the McKinsy report. In the email, Ramon Soto writes:
I have major concerns about stating ‘sell/lease 30-50 buildings’ as part of a strategy. It contradicts everything I have been saying about the master planning process: and it will obviously serve to fan the flames regarding the charters and the compact. (see attached) I’m going to touch base with Margaret and try to re-work the verbiage.
In another email on the same day, December 16, 2015, this time between Ramon Soto and Makeeba McCreary, BPS Chief of Staff and CC’ing Rahn Dorsey, BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang, BPS Chief of Communications Richard Weir and City of Boston Chief Communication Officer Laura Oggeri, the city and BPS discuss not publicly referencing the closing of 30-50 schools and changing the wording in the Operational Review Timeline. In this email, Makeeba McCreary writes:
We are not using ‘close’ anywhere.
In a March 10, 2016 email between Tommy Chang and Michael Tooke of Boston Leaders for Education, CC’ing Ross Wilson, BPS Managing Partner of Innovation and Co-Chair of the Boston Compact Steering Committee, the two discuss the agenda of Boston Leaders for Education Meeting with Superintendent Tommy Chang concerning the McKinsey Report. In the email, Michael Tooke writes:
Does Boston have the political fortitude to rip off the band-aids a) consolidate schools, b) rationalize special education, c) complete central office redesign, and d) improve operations (starting with transportation)? […] Does Boston have the courage to take an immediate and diverse solution to these underperforming institutions, including closure (in concert with a thoughtful and complete facilities plan), redesign as in-district charters, addition of independent charters or insertion of new school leadership with true autonomy?