At 1:30pm today, Mayor Marty Walsh and his policy advisers hosted a 30-minute “Ask Mayor Walsh” session on Facebook in which constituents were encouraged to ask questions about “education and innovation.” Not surprisingly, more than a quarter of the inquiries were related to charter schools, from whether Walsh supports allowing more of them (he does), to his position on how the city might help ease the transition for students moving between charters and traditional institutions.
The Dig has noted in the past that Walsh, like his opponent in last November’s election, John Connolly, poses a major threat to Boston Public Schools, as both support the proliferation of charters that drain significant and increasing amounts from the general pedagogical well. That disparity only stands to grow despite the new mayor’s note in today’s chat that his administration will “work on improving the quality of all High Schools!” and so on. Such promises seem fiscally impossible. As one commenter noted: “How would lifting the cap help Boston educate all our students and not bankrupt BPS?”
Walsh did not respond to that poster, or to the half-dozen other participants who questioned the sustainability of charter expansion and the lack of grassroots representation on the recently announced superintendent search committee. (The co-head of said committee is Robert Gallery, the Massachusetts president of Bank of America. Really. You can’t make this stuff up.) As such, we’ve reprinted those charter-wary queries and comments below, and highlighted choice points that warrant further review. To be somewhat fair, even though charter advocates dominated the discussion (and got responses from Walsh in four instances, highlighted below), we also listed their contributions. All names have been removed out of respect for parents just wanting what’s best for their kid, and understandably not caring about the school system at large.
CHARTER-WARY QUESTIONS & COMMENTS
Your newly announced search committee is small and is not representative of families who have entrusted their children to the BPS to be educated and is stacked with “professionals” who are on board with the recent changes instituted in the twilight of the Menino/Johnson era, i.e. lifting the charter gap, high stakes testing. There are two parents, but they are on the Committee more in their professional capacity with ties to foundations and corporations. I do not see grassroots education or advocacy groups, youth representation such as Massachusetts Advocated for Children, Quest, Boston Truth on this most important committee. Can you please speak to this issue on this forum. Additionally at your transition meetings (especially the day held at Madison Park, parents came and almost all spoke against lifting the charter cap and concerns about defunding BPS. Can you please address this issue also. Thank you.
Mayor Walsh, I would like to ask how you will help families with students who have special needs and go to Boston charter schools. Boston charter schools have offered our family more special education services than BPS, but when the student’s need exceeds the capacity of charter schools to provide it is very difficult to access services through BPS. Currently charter schools and BPS operate as separate entities, and there are not enough BPS schools and programs that can meet the complex needs of students on the autism spectrum. When a special needs student requires a higher level of support that a charter school cannot provide, the student has to register for BPS, undergo a 30 day assessment period as a new BPS student before having their IEP converted to BPS’s system. The system is not working and is not meeting the needs of Boston families who have children with autism spectrum disorders. We have lived and working in Boston for over 20 years and are considering moving to a suburb in order to find better education for our children. Please look into this issue of special needs before you lift the charter school cap. Thank you.
I Love Charter Schools and my 8 year old is in a Charter school. I am however conflicted since I am a product of BPS. I hear once a child leaves Charter schools to a larger environment like an exam school or main stream school a child can get lost since Charters have been so supportive. I think environments make a difference. If we look at Colleges verse Universities classrooms that are 20 or less or classrooms that seat auditoriums make a big difference in your college choice. I don’t agree with ruling out BPS I think this is an opportunity to improve an old model. I don’t agree with High MCAS scores being a driver either it just means you taught my child to how to memorize.
I would like to welcome you Mayor Walsh. On January 29th, the US Depart. of ED and the US Dept of Justice released School Discipline Guidance Package to remind schools of their legal obligations to administer student discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin. These guidelines is to address the high rate of detentions and suspensions of Black students in public and Charter Schools for nonviolent offenses. How are you going to address
Im really concerned about the new school choice assignments being implemented by BPS. Parents choices are being taken away, why? Why do Charter schools kick children out of programs if teachers haven’t b learned about families
AFTER you institute the charter-school accountability task force pursuant to your commitment made to the BSAC and The Boston Education Truth Coalition on November 3, 2013 though – CORRECT? Mayor Marty Walsh, you committed to not allow the charter cap to be lifted or raised until you establishes a Boston Charter School Task Force. Students, including YOUNG coalition members, parents, teachers, administrators, experts and other community stakeholders should all be part of the Task Force. The role of the task force will be to:
· Design a Charter Accountability Plan and oversee its implementation
· Monitor for-profit corporate interests in the city and the Commonwealth
· Monitor the cap on charter schools and make recommendations on any activity pertaining to it
CHARTER-FRIENDLY QUESTIONS & COMMENTS
I am helping to raise my 2 nephews with my mother (their grandmother), our primary goal is to have them hem END the pattern of underemployment, low self esteem, ignorance and unwanted pregnancies. We view education as the way out of that life. The methods used by Boston Public Charter Schools has the same goals in mind. They are not interested in only encouraging the most motivated and brightest pupils; they take under-educated students from our city and give them a WHOLE NEW outlook on themselves as capable learners. Both our boys have learning challenges and IEP’s. They have had IEP’s for years before Charter School enrollment….but the teachers at Excel Academy are superior in their approach to meeting IEP goals. When they tap into HOW your child learns and provides them with tools and strategies to overcome learning obstacles, it will amaze you how PROUD your student will feel about themselves…it will change how they view themselves, improving their self image and opening up possibilities of a life in which they have choices, not limitations. I take comfort in knowing they have this foundation and thank luck and fortune for having this option. My experience with non-charger public schools is that they lack the ability to attract and retain good quality teachers; the really talented ones feel too limited by the Union and lack of structure in the class room to effectively reach their students. Only the brightest are benefiting. Teachers who have an engaged classroom and the respect of the students are able to be effective. Charter Schools teach respect for yourself, your teachers, your classmates…it’s the foundation of the learning process. People criticize the strictness, and the students all remember what it was like in previous schools w/ less structure, less homework, lower expectations and sometimes long for it…but when you ask them if they like their school and their teachers they say the LOVE their teachers and they LOVE their school. These teachers LOVE their job, and they bring positivitiy and excitement and encouragement and creativity to their classrooms and fully engage with their students.
I then gave BPS a chance w/ my children deciding I could be part of the solution, within a year they were enrolled in parochial schools When my son’s school closed we were fortunate to win the lottery into APR I feel very fortunate,I have never seen teachers who are so dedicated to their students, they will do naything to help them learn they can be successful It is not all about grades or test scores but building involved members of our society PLEASE lift the caps on charter schools, give my grandaughter the chance to succeed.
I’m excited about The Charter Schools I finally had the courage to sign my son up because he’s on an IEP I felt fearful but this year I did..
Two years ago my husband and I were looking to move out of the the City of Boston searching for better and affordable education for our children. Now that they are at Brooke Charter Schools we are here to stay. My 6 and 8 year old have blossomed in the past couple of years in a school where they are not only cheered for academic excellence but also praised for good character. The full day schedule of 7:45-4:30 provides them with extracurricular such as art and dance and for me as a working mother…peace of mind. For those who are not as lucky as my family have been please consider lifting the cap on charter schools.
I feel very fortunate that my daughter is in a charter school; we did not get any of our top choices through the general BPS lottery. I am already looking ahead to high school and hoping that the charter cap will be raised so we will have greater choice when the time comes. Will you support raising the cap? MAYOR WALSH: We are working on reforming our high schools so your options will be greater
Please lift the cap on charter schools. All 3 of my children have attended them and they are great alternatives to public education.
Are you considering lifting the charter school cap? MAYOR WALSH: Yes, I support lifting the charter school cap.
Mayor Walsh, I hope you consider further lifting the cap on charter school in the city.
Hello…im a single mom of three…I grew up in boston public schools…my concern is the cap with charter schools. Is it possible to lift those csps? MAYOR WALSH: I support lifting the cap on charter schools.
Glad to hear that….my dilemma is for instance my son who is currently a 6th grader at Rogers in the Advanced Work Class and loves it but after this year the Rogers doesn’t have an AWC program that goes past the 6th grade. I signed my son up for several charters and have been wailisted. Any advice on what to do in this situation. My son is motivated to do his best and continue with this AWC status but there are a lack of quality schools for him to choose from.
We have the highest performing charter schools in the country. Since you grew up on Taft Street and often talk about rough beginnings, does this mean you are most interested in offering ALL of our children quality and SAFE education by lifting the cap on Charter schools (since the charters are ready to expand and obviously out-performing bps school in the areas of education and safety)?
Hi Mayor Walsh. what are your plans for Charter Schools? Do you plan to get rid of all charter schools? I herd you have money for education what do you plan to do with the money? are you going to improve BPS education and make the same as charter school curriculum
My daughter was fortunate to win the lottery and get into Brooke charter school she had grown up so much and blossomed in just 18 months the teachers are do dedicated and living towards the students and practice what they preach I love the consistent discipline the kids are growing up to be so respectful to one another I don’t have to worry about bullying the small classroom are fantastic the school ensures the kids get the attention they need so no one falls behind IM writing to ask that the charter school cap gets lifted AK that my child will be able to go to a charter school high school
If it were not for charter schools where would we send out boys? Private school is out of the question. I am a stay at home mom. My husband works for the City Boston. I can see the Roosevelt from our home in Hyde Park but our boys were unable to attend. No room for them. The way BPS were going to solve that problem was to put our, then 5 year old kindergartener, on a bus to East Boston! WHAT? No thank you. After much protesting they put our little guy at The Channing on Sunnyside. Well our experience there would take up this entire page. Let’s just say it was NOT a good one. We were blessed to get both of our guys into Charter Schools. APR & the Renaissance. The education they are receiving is beyond compare to any other type of educatiomal systems here in Boston. I am fully in support of Charter schools and believe that ALL Boston schools should be made into charter schools. BPS has been mismanaged for years. Most of the buildings are in hazmat situation form. The teachers are underpaid and they have to take on the roll of not only teachers BUT parents, counselors, police. If you want Boston to become a safer place to live it is imperative to educate our children properly. Please consider lifting the cap on charter schools here in Boston. Please provide out children with the education they deserve. Thank you for your time.
I’m a parent from the NHCS and proud to say that you served on the board there. The things that have made that school successful:they have a 1/2 day the 2nd and 4th Wed of every month so the teachers can meet to talk about strategies to make the school better. They have a school gathering every Friday to honor a child from each class that deserves to be recognized, it’s called “Student Spotlight.” The teachers are always willing to talk to parents at drop off and pick ups. MAYOR WALSH: I was honored to be a founding board member of NHCS.