Assume Good Intentions.

Assume Good Intentions.

One of the slides
One of the slides

That was directive that was given to us at the Boston Compact meeting I attended last night in Southie. The attendees all had to agree to this with a thumbs up. And attendance was interesting. There were about 20 administrators and employees of some type, and 4 parents.

I was one of 4 parents at this thing, and 1 of the other parents was BPS Workshop. I jokingly asked him if anyone has seen a normal parent.

The low attendance created a very strange dynamic because the people running the show were intensely interested in what we had to say – we were the only ones there. For their part, the Compact members seemed close to despondent about the turnout. But it does not speak to a huge need in the district if you can’t get people to show up to hear about a proposal. Where are the parents if this is such a burning issue?

And for what it’s worth, the Boston Compact folks did allow us with dissenting views to express our concerns. I genuinely appreciate that. Having said that, I’m still concerned. The representative from the charter schools stated that the charters are trying to do better with Special Needs kids. But there isn’t really any incentive for them to do so. In fact, if this is used as an overlay, it could deter families with special needs kids from enrolling their children in charters.

These compacts have been tried in other cities, and resulted in district schools being closed. My understanding this is a result of “rating” schools based on test scores while at the same time directing the more difficult to educate kids away from the charters. I think parents who want to have their children in charters should be aware that part of the proposal is to make all charters neighborhood schools so they would have less choice than they do now.

I would have less suspicion about the whole thing if I believed that the Mayor had a real commitment to the health of Boston Public Schools. But I do not believe that he does.

That brings me back to the Assume Good Intentions directive. I told the members of the Compact that I’m sure that they do have good intentions, but it is the district families who are hurt by the push for more charters.

A friend of mine who is an advocate for the union was there. He pointed out to me that though the Compact states that this is about open discussion, they take a lot off the table right at the beginning. Attendees are told that topics such as funding and the charter cap won’t be discussed.

I think it might be easier to assume “good intentions” if we weren’t being told what to talk about.

But I do hope more parents show up no matter what your feelings.

Here are the last meetings:

Thursday, November 5
5:30 – 8:00 pm

Grove Hall Community Center

 Thursday, November 12
6:30 – 9:00 pm

1st Church of Jamaica Plain

Tuesday, November 17
5:30 – 8:00 pm

West End Boys and Girls Club

There is a joke in here somewhere….

What do you do when you feel that your child’s education is under attack by the state legislature? You get yourself out of bed and you get yourself down to the state house for the Joint Committee on Education’s hearing. That’s what you do.

So your intrepid education activist and a few of her friends got down to the state house, early. The hearing room was a circus. Just packed with parents and teachers and reporters and nervous energy flying around the room.

And then we waited…

We waited as the elected officials flounced in and out of the hearing with their people and fan fare.

We waited as the foundations spoke, the school committees were called, and the heads of charter schools gave their testimony.

We waited as the panels of charter school parents wearing matching t-shirts gave their testimony early in the day. I also understand they had boxed lunches waiting for them.

We waited as the unions gave their testimonies.

And we waited and waited.

The hearing had started at 10:00 a.m. But 5:00 rolled around and we still had not spoken.

And I thought, gee, aren’t we just knee deep in metaphor here.

My own state senator left the hearing. When I complained on twitter, she explained she had to pick up her kid from daycare.

Finally, after waiting hours, without food or drinks, our names were finally called in an empty room.

The Boston Public School parents.

And then Boston Public School students.

And finally Tracy Novick.

And we testified.

And we were awesome.

And we got the last word.


Quick update

There is a lot happening in the Commonwealth on the Education front. There is a new and very aggressive push to expand the number of charter schools. Also, the Mayor of Boston has proposed a new assignment system that will roll charter schools into the current process.

I have a lot of thoughts about all of this but I’m still taking it all in. I will blog about these things more in the coming weeks.

I’m testifying on Oct. 13th in favor of keeping the cap on the number of charter schools. I will try and tweet out some of the highlights while I’m there. You can find me at @googiebaba.

I would rather poke my eyes out than hang out at the State House. But as my friend Karen over at BPS Nightmare always says, if we don’t fight for our children, who will?

Nobody. That’s who.

I’ll post my testimony here after I give it on Tuesday.

Disrupting the Disruptors (alternative title: thoughts after a TEDx Talk)

Dancer at the TEDx talk
Dancer at the TEDx talk

One insight that I have learned in the last five years of having children in the public school system is that there is an official narrative, and then there is the reality on the ground. The two are often discordant. Because there is a political dimension to the official narrative. Who gets to frame the story, whose voices are heard and who benefits.

I was thinking about this because I went to a wonderful event in my town, TEDxJP. I spent the day listening to amazing speakers talk about their work and their insights. But there was one speaker who got up to talk about disrupting dying systems in order for them to be replaced with something healthier.

And soon as I heard the word disruption, I just knew that we were going to hear about failing schools. Because Ladies and Gentlemen, I KNOW the narrative. I know the mainstream story before it begins.

And that is exactly what happened. But it was interesting because the speaker said, “Schools are failing our children” almost as an offhanded remark, as if she felt that she didn’t even need to explain herself.

At the break, I approached her and told her I took issue with this. I said that schools are not failing our children. Schools have been abandoned and what she was mimicking was a narrative that was being used to justify privatization. She responded that she intended her speech to provoke.

Well, consider me provoked.

Because our schools are not failing. They are intentionally being starved of resources so that they cannot function. This isn’t by some organic mechanism. This by design of the ruling class so that they can justify removing publically held goods and hand them over to the control of private entities.

The education reformers may have the best intentions in the whole world. This is still DEAD WRONG. It is wrong to privatize education.

I am just a mom with a blog and a twitter account. Some of the most powerful people in the whole world are behind this. I can’t stop it. But I’ll be damned if I let people make off handed remarks that support a narrative that just isn’t true.