Assume Good Intentions.
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