Hey there! It’s Amy Dubé M.Ed.!

cekyurskGuest Blogger Amy Dubé, M.Ed. responds to Myopic Globe Editorial on February 12

In a recent February 12 Globe editorial titled “The MTA’s Myopic Agenda”, the first line reveals the author’s purpose, “FRESH OFF A victory on Question 2, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, led by combative firebrand Barbara Madeloni…”

Clearly, this editorial writer is still feeling the sting of the overwhelming NO on #2 vote. The taxpayers, parents, and teachers have spoken in support of Massachusetts students. Yet still, this editorial, a thinly veiled attack on Barbara Madeloni as well as Massachusetts teachers, is filled with vitriol over the powerful pushback of the voters against lifting the charter cap. The February 12 editorial is quite a slap in the face to voters, parents, students, and the teachers that work so hard for their success.

As the editorial contributor correctly explained, “The MTA wants a three-year moratorium on those tests, with the goal of nixing them entirely.” That’s the only thing this editorial got right.

But why does the MTA want a three-year moratorium on those high stakes tests?
Is the MTA truly a myopic agenda, or are there nuances that the writer of this simplistic editorial failed to see?

The stakes are so high that schools are forced to teach to these tests. It forces publishers to simulate the tests. It forces school districts to purchase curriculum from these publishers based on these tests. There are companies like ANet and Iready that districts hire just to simulate these tests quarterly in order to train students to perform for these tests.

How does this affect children?

Senator Michael Rush, D-West Roxbury, is to be commended for being the brave lead Senate sponsor of the MTA legislation. As a champion of student well-being and the meeting of student developmental needs, he explains, “A lot of these concerns I have had…Largely, they feel students are being over-tested.”

The bill would also rewrite school-turnaround legislation which is badly needed. The bill would limit the states hand in intervening. Why does the state want to intervene with underperforming schools? To meet student needs? No. To push charters. Charters are a great way to bring “innovation” to districts. And by innovation, this means less qualified, less experienced administrators, higher faculty turnover, lack of budget transparency, concerning suspension rates and teachers with minimum to zero certifications for their positions. In urban areas with transient students as well as students with recent acquisition of the English language, students need stability and expertise. Charter school “innovation” brings them the opposite of what they need.

It is myopic to think that Massachusetts teachers do not care about student success or even foster student failure. The only thing the editorialist did a fine job with was perverting what the heart of the bill is actually about – the developmental appropriateness of instruction and the meeting students’ needs.
Vygotski, renown psychologist and researcher of the theory of human cultural as well as bio-social development coined the term Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). ZPD explains the sweet spot in instruction where student learning is maximized. Instruction fails when it is too hard or too easy. The most learning takes place just outside the students’ current level of performance – not levels and levels above a student’s current ability.

I teach grade six students in an urban Massachusetts school district. Our brand-new curriculum by Harcourt, Reinhart, Mifflin is geared toward the tests. Currently my students are tackling a New York Times article featured in our grade 6 textbook and indicative of the level of most of the selections within our textbook.

The New York Times is written college level. It isn’t exactly high interest reading for your average twelve-year -old. Below are excerpts from our grade 6 textbook from 2012 New York Times article “Defined by What They Wore” by Guy Tremblay.

“And there, in the lightless saline netherworld, a vest, a trilby hat, a pair of laced boots, a belted valise and an alligator bag (along with a huge range of artifacts) lay scattered across a broad apron of remnants…”

“…she covered her office walls with photographs of the Titanic’s passengers to absorb the sartorial elements that enliven character. The removable celluloid collars with laundry marks inside, the man’s vest with a single vertical buttonhole for a watch chain and fob, the homespun finery packed away by village girls as a trousseau for an imaginary future…”

“At a minimum, the sartorial details convey some overlooked information: people were generally smaller in 1912, had tidier heads, more-compact torsos, less-capacious lungs.”

“Our clothing is an amalgam of what we are: the shoes, the vest, the trousers, the suit jacket purchased at different times…”

“Though they largely passed into legend, those who lost their lives in the epoch-making shipwreck were never “characters,” said Deborah Nadoolman Landis, the curator of “Hollywood Costume,” an exhibition exploring the role costume design plays in cinema history that will open in October at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.”

“Fixed and flattened in memory by the shock of disaster, the realities of the Titanic become available to nuanced interpretation only now, a century later, just as with the sale this week of the hats and vests and shoes and watches saved from the ocean, come into wider view.”

“A surprising amount of ephemera defied logic to survive the sinking of the unsinkable ocean liner that went to the bottom 100 years ago on April 15.”
“Yet the lives at the heart of the story are easily forgotten, transformed into facile metaphors and symbols of gender and class.”

“Clothes, said Lisa Cohen, a biographer whose book “All We Know” delineates the lives of three early modernist women— Mercedes de Acosta, Madge Garland, Esther Murphy—in part by using the “soft history” of fashion to demonstrate that our surfaces elucidate “our depths,” as the author said.”

“Among the aspects of the story most laden with pathos is the contemporary depiction of bodies frozen into life jackets .”

These excerpts from the grade 6 textbook are not anomalies. Rather, they are indicative of the selections throughout the newly adopted curriculum. They point to a curriculum laden with pathos and lack of student joie de vie.

The February 12 Globe editorialist fumes, “Teachers unions have long had an ambivalent stance on education reform?” How so? They are pushing for a bill that supports the developmental appropriateness of instruction and maximizes student growth.

“Our best-in-the-nation status was achieved,” as the editorialist with a minimalist understanding of education huffed, was achieved long before the “landmark” education reform law of 1993.

Massachusetts has ALWAYS topped the nation in academic performance, even before this testing craze based largely on the motives of education pillagers and profiteers lusty for a piece of the education funding pie. Massachusetts continues to top the nation in academic performance IN SPITE of the testing machine cranking out profits for opportunists such as publishers, fly-by-night consultants, and pseudo-nonprofit charters.

The editorialist erroneously claimed, “anti-testing partisans often assert that a student’s socioeconomic status is determinative of his or her academic performance.” Anyone with the ability to read research studies knows that there is an undeniable and direct correlation between academic performance and zip codes, economic status, and the educational level of parents.

Politicians want to blame teachers. They cannot blame parents’ education or economic level because they need votes in the fall. Politicians don’t want to be accountable for meeting the public’s need of poverty fighting legislation such as making health care and higher education economically accessible to all. Our elected officials are so drunk on data points, why aren’t any of them talking about high stake accountability for their own positions? Alas, few politicians are actively championing raising the minimum wage and reducing the corporate welfare received by their most generous campaign contributors. Holding politicians accountable for the citizenry’s quality of life would in effect be establishing term limits for many career politicians.

This editorialist is the one who needs to “undertake some serious homework about exactly how Massachusetts made it to the top nationally on education.” They made it there in spite of anti-teacher, anti-student, anti-parent high stakes testing legislation based on starving schools into failure.

As for the opt-out, parents cannot truly opt out of testing. The editorialist doesn’t have to fear that because many at-risk districts purchase curriculum which mirrors testing and contracts quarterly test simulators such as ANet and Iready.

Opting out of state testing is not without consequence. It would foster developmental appropriateness of instruction within each student’s Zone of Proximal Development.

MTA is not, as the scorned Yes on 2 cheerleader and editorialist stomped, a “self-interested and wrong-headed” organization which “deserves to die a quiet death in committee.”

This responsible, informed bill is a crusade which champions the rights of students and parents. It fosters developmental appropriateness of instruction and instruction within each student’s Zone of Proximal Development. It bill gives students and parents the support needed for success.

Our children are more than numbers. Our students are more than pawns and data points to be twisted for profit and votes. This editorialist should be more informed about education before leading Globe readers down a path of misinformation lined with scars from a severe beating of referendum 2 – despite all the out of state dark money backing it.

Amy Dubé is a teacher, formerly Amy Berard, she has been featured in: Education Week, Washington Post, & former U.S. Asst. Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch’s blog. She can be found on Twitter at @1amyberard.

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Hurray for the Know Nothings

If you have any interest in education policy, or perhaps an interest in grizzly bears, you know that Secretary DeVos is a big proponents of vouchers. I think when some people hear vouchers they imagine sending their children off to Beaver County Day, voucher in hand.

And I’m here to tell you, Don’t You Believe It. That isn’t the way it has worked out for any community that has tried to implement a voucher program. For reasons that I will get into, vouchers lead to worse educational outcomes for students.

Take Trump’s campaign promise to provide 20 billion dollars to disadvantaged students for vouchers. He would have to raid Title I funds and then some in order to provide this money. This will leave educational ecosystems more degraded than they already are. And if that money goes only to America’s 25 million disadvantaged students, this will provide a voucher of a little less than $1,000 a year per student.

Trump assets that states will need to kick in an additional $220 billion dollars to make this plan viable. Frankly, I see this a little bit like Trump saying that Mexico will pay for the wall. Where, pray tell, are these cash strapped states going to find these billions of dollars without wrecking the school systems of the children who are not disadvantaged? But even if the states pillage all of their government employee pension plans to pay for this, we are still looking at about $11,000 per student.

This still isn’t enough money to send your child to private school. Parochial schools are generally cheaper than independent private schools. Catholic Memorial High School is $18,000 a year. BC High School is $20,000.

And while it’s true that most private and parochial schools offer financial aid, the schools haven’t been conscripted into supplementing this voucher plan. They have their own criteria for who gets admitted and how much aid they will receive.

And this is the reason why vouchers lead to worse educational outcomes. Because Trump is a religious man, and that religion would be Supply Side Economics. And if there is money to be made, there will be someone who steps up to provide that service as cheaply as possible. Even if they don’t exist today, there will be schools that will take that voucher money. We can imagine how they will manage to provide a private school education at half the cost of what current schools charge. Will they be quality schools? Will they accept special education students? English Language Learners? What about little Johnny over there with lice in his hair who gets bored easily and throws things at the teacher for attention? Will a private school take him? Will there be any regulatory scheme or will we let the market sort this all out?

All of this leads me to cheer for the “Know Nothings.” The Know Nothings were an anti-Catholic party in the 19th century, and one their most stubborn legacies was a provision in the Massachusetts State Constitution prohibiting public money going to private schools.

This fallen Catholic salutes your wisdom.

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Heavens to Betsy

first-day
Kiddos on the first day of indoctrination at their failed government school.

So now we have an Education Secretary more concerned about fighting off bears than educating children with special needs. That, of course, is distressing. But I couldn’t help but be elated by the robust defense of public education that we have witnessed these last few days! After years of hearing about how public education is a failed experiment, it turns out that folks actually really love their public schools. The avalanche of emails and phone calls have certainly sent a message to Washington that people want to insure that their children can continue to send their children to a public school.

The good news is about DeVos is this. ESSA passed during Obama’s presidency, and it pushes accountability to the states. This limits the damage that the new secretary can do. Probably. We are in Trumpville now, and down is up and up is down. In fact, no sooner had DeVos been confirmed, did GOP lawmakers introduce legislation to abolish the Department of Education. (Since Jan 20th I spend half my waking hours wondering WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING!) So maybe her whole department is abolished and everyone can just go home.

But my biggest concern right now will be for vulnerable students who will now be shepherded by a woman who has never stepped foot in a public school. I have some concern about her enthusiasm for school vouchers. Vouchers are unconstitutional in Massachusetts but DeVos could try and set up an incentive program like Arne Duncan did in order to get states to sign on to the idea. Trump has promised 20 billion towards school choice. Now that’s a lot of money, and to be frank, Trump has promised a lot of things. But I’ve heard some rattlings that it could come in the form of tax credits (contribute to a voucher program and take it as a tax write off.) But already, philanthropy is in the hands of the charter industry, so I don’t know how much difference this would make.

I think what we really need to watch out for is making sure that Title I funds don’t become portable. Title I funds go to schools with high levels of poverty. If the funds become portable, they would follow a child even if that child transfers to a wealthy public school. People often move from cities to suburbs or they enter into Metco so that could have some real damage.

I am also concerned about Trump completely defunding Title I perhaps to fund his voucher program.

But frankly, it is hard to say what is going to happen next. Maybe he will issue an Exectuvie Order that all homeroom teachers will be replaced by spider monkeys. But what is clear to me is that we all need to be active at the local level because that is always where most of the education decisions are made.

Inauguration

After an AA meeting in Jamaica Plain, I got to talking with a friend of mine. I told her that my father was losing his mind. I added the caveat, “You know, in the way men in the Southwest do.”
She was from Texas and immediately understood.
“You mean he’s out in the desert shooting cactus?”
That was precisely what I meant.

I once had a girlfriend from Puerto Rico who was so butch that she was called sir, and folks thought we were straight. Once, she was looking at old pictures from when I was young, and she suddenly fell silent.
“I didn’t know you were white like that.”
I drew a breath and said, “I am white like that.”

What happened to the girl from the desert? The girl who dropped acid on Mill Avenue with her first boyfriend, gravel stuck in her knees, as they hid from the cops behind cars. He would recite to her all of the German words he was learning, and showed her the swastika carved on his thigh. No one in her young life, not a single adult, took her aside and said, “Tell me about this boy you’ve been hanging out with.”

(She’s been hiding out in New England.)
“Are you from East Boston?” the cashier asks.
“All of my life! Never left!” (See, it didn’t happen. None of it happened.)

Was it all bad? Of course not. Nothing ever is. There were things to love: vast fields of flowers that we wandered freely while the adults tended to their preoccupations. And there were horses. Pintos that my grandfather bought from Native Americans, half wild and furious, I raced on their backs straight out of my childhood.

But there are scars that are etched on my body that will never fade. “You have to understand that your dad loves you,” my mother said tucking me in at night. This was given to me as a payment, of sorts. My mother’s debt to me was created by my father’s closet full of guns, the shots that rang out by my swing set, the carcasses of birds in our yard.

And now there’s a new man who has laid his tiny hand’s on Lincoln’s Bible, and we are being told to “see what is in his heart.” Unfortunately, I feel as if I have a pretty good idea. I cannot help but think about the thousands of nuclear weapons that are on hair trigger-alert.

And it’s just a regular day, you are getting your kids ready for school, looking for their coats and their shoes, when you find yourself on the floor.

I am not whispering into the devil’s ear that I am the storm.
I am no storm.
Forty-seven years of life has beaten all pride out of me. I understand so little of what has happened to me.
But my life whispers to me, “You’ve been here before. You can fight this. You can fight this and live.”

A mother tells her story

There are many reasons to oppose lifting  the cap on the number of charter schools this Tuesday. But what has always concerned me is the way some charter schools treat children.

This mother stopped a No on 2 canvasser in the parking lot because she wanted to tell her story. Please listen to what she has to say.

 

Boston Parents ask you to Vote #NoOn2

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We are reaching out to you as Boston Public School parents because we are concerned about the way deceptive TV ads are portraying us in the charter school debate on Question 2. A yes vote would be devastating to our schools and our children and we ask that you vote no this November.

  • Question 2 threatens the financial health of our districts and cities. It will bring more charter schools to the state but NOT more students and NOT more money!
  • Mayor Marty Walsh says Question 2 “is not just unsustainable, it’s unconscionable.” Because it will allow 12 new schools a year, every year, forever. This unmitigated growth will destabilize our district and will result in the defunding and closing of our schools that serve the most vulnerable populations. In 2017, Boston Public Schools will lose over $135 million to charter schools.
  • Question 2 does nothing to address the opportunity gap between urban and suburban schools. In fact, the opposite is true. If Question 2 passes, the opportunity gap between the suburban and urban schools will grow into a chasm.
  • Question 2 calls for 12 new schools a year, every year. Even if the district doesn’t want them. This unmitigated growth will be incredibly destabilizing to our district and will result in the defunding and closing of our schools that serve our most vulnerable populations.
  • Boston currently has several thousand charter seats available.  A “No on 2” vote does not prevent these additional seats from being filled.
  • The “Yes on 2” campaign is being financed by a very few wealthy individuals, billionaires from out of state, and those wishing to profit from our children’s education. The Walton family alone has spent $1.8 million to help pass this initiative. The same individuals and foundations that backed Common Core are funding the charter school expansion nationwide.

You may have seen the “Lift the Cap” or “Yes on 2” tv ads during the Olympics that paint a picture of us desperate to get out of our schools. We are here to tell you that simply isn’t true. We’ve written about our experiences here, here and here.  We know our schools do not have the same resources and amenities as those in the suburbs. Our kids know this as well. Even with these disparities, Boston Public Schools is one of the top performing urban school districts in the nation.

We felt compelled to reach out to you because, as fellow parents, we know that you will understand how much our schools mean to us, just as your school means a lot to your community. We feel that this campaign is an attempt to privatize our district and take our schools away from city families and students. As parents who simply want what is best for our children, we don’t have the political connections or deep pockets that make it possible to back million dollar campaigns. But our communities are being threatened and we need your help.

Please join us in voting “No on 2” and support true public education in Boston. We are not members of a union or a private entity. Like you, our children attend public schools. Like you, we volunteer on our school site councils and family councils (similar to your PTA/PTO organization). Like you, we have invested our time, effort and love into building our school communities. In addition, we would be grateful if you shared our letter with members of your school community and other parenting communities. Our kids — and the future of public education in Boston —  are counting on you.

Signed,

Tonya Tedesco, Co-Chair Boston Arts Academy Family Council 

Mary Lewis-Pierce, Co-Chair BTU K-8 Family Council 

Angelina Camacho
Roxanne Hoke Chandlerno-on-2-rally
Yooree Losordo
Jacquea Lamb
Naama Goldstein
Heshan Berents-Weeramuni
Krista Magnuson
Nicole d’Avis
Karen Kast McBride
Kathy Cahill
Megan Wolf
Harneen Chernow
Susan Moir
Mayre Plunkett
Karin McEwen
Julie Smith-Bartoloni
Kristin Johnson
Lance Laird
Michelle Ewing
Nicole Perryman
Timika Banks
Iranya Rivera
Sapna Padte
Jen Douglas
Malikka Williams
Marlena Rose
John Radosta
Chris Hoeh
Laurie Bozzi
John Lerner
Joe Golding
Carol Ridge Martinez
Hilary Marcus
Karen Oil
Patricia Kinsella
Charis Loveland
Kevin Murray
Sara Barcan
Mary Battenfeld
Stephanie Bode Ward
Jean Powers
Erica Lewy
Rossandry Rivera
Aurora Rivera
Vercheesa Thompson
Maria Dominguez Gray
Gretchen Suarez
Rosann Tung,
Ada Alvarez
Bruce Thatcher
Maribel Martinez
Heydi Diaz- Blackstone
Angela Sanchez
Ana SeverinoRafaela Polanco
Lidice Tatiana Gonzalez Ruiz
Deisy Lopez
Jeammessa Brimage
Arelis Restrepo
Lizbeth Ortiz
Alba Gonzalez
Claritza Rodriguez
Jose Matos
Piedad Janet Muñoz
Liz Hughes
Ada Alvarez
Candida Guerra
Kelly Gil Franco
Nely Guevara
Danubia Camargos Silva
Cleia Borges
Kelly Gallagher
Susan Lacefield
Mary Delgado
Barbara Martinez
Madeleine Hall
Beatriz Alvarez
Jenny Sazama
Tim Crellin-Sazama
Susan Chorley
Rene Bernal
Mercedes Foster
Ernesto Arroyo-Montano
Theresa Thompson Maynard
Lauren Margharita
Lisa Melara
Jansi Cabrera
Sung-Joon Pai
Odette Williamson
Renee Martin
Iloisa Teixeria
Damicka R. Johnson
Stephanie Shanen
Kimberley Williams
Bob Damon
Erin Hashimoto-Martell
Christopher Martell
Susie Shayegani
Erika Sanchez
Abra Mims
Susan Field
Carrie Fletcher

A Trick and a Treat

If you are a Massachusetts voter, you  may have received a mailer last week about Question 2. This mailer proclaimed that voters should secure Obama’s legacy by Voting Yes on 2.

And there was a very large picture of the president on the front.

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Now, I knew Potus had not endorsed Question 2. And I was so concerned about this that I called the Secretary of State’s Office to complain. They were so concerned that they’ve completely ignored my phone call.

And of course, a few days later, it comes out that the White House has no connection to this organization and has not endorsed Question 2.

So the organization behind this mailer had some explaining to do.

You never said Potus endorsed? No you just sent out a flyer with his face and a command to keep his legacy by voting yes on 2.

So that’s a bit of a trick.

But here’s a treat. Guess who endorsed No on 2 for real? Bernie Sanders!!!
(aka the man who was ROBBED of the presidency!)

Check it out!

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Vote No on 2 because magical thinking is dangerous.

 

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Photo credit: Malikka Williams

Magical thinking in education policy is dangerous and generally ends up hurting the most vulnerable. The Yes on 2 campaign is promising everything to everyone but without wrestling with the very real issue of who is going to pay for these 12 new schools a year.

 

Education spending in Massachusetts is already severely underfunded. The legislature set up a commission to study how the state is meeting its legal obligations to fund education. It was called the Foundation Budget Review Commission, and it found that Massachusetts was underfunding public schools by a billion dollars a year. That is the state of education funding today.

The FBRC found that the two areas where the state is underfunding education is in special education and health care costs.

If you have not noticed that your schools are underfunded, it’s because your city or town has chosen to divert funding from other departments to make up the difference.

In fact, the legislature estimates that if Question 2 passes, it will cost 1 billion a year within 10 years.[1] This will be an additional bill to the already underfunded public school sector. It should also be noted that Governor Baker just announced that he must reopen the Massachusetts budget to deal with a $295 million spending deficit. This has not dampened his enthusiasm for opening up 12 more schools a year, every year, with no funding source identified.

I and other parent education activists have gone to state legislators three years in a row asking for more money. And every year we are told the same thing: The state has a lot of funding priorities. And how can you argue with that? What am I asking them to cut in order for them to fully fund education?

So it has been left to cities and towns to figure this out. This is why many pro charter politicians are No on 2. Because this question will make this reality worse. Because if you exacerbate this situation there won’t be many easy answers. You can raise taxes but that is politically dangerous or you can make cuts.

In fact, Boston commissioned McKinsey consulting to draft a report on controlling BPS school costs. It should come as no surprise that half of the report is dedicated to cutting special education spending.

This is what I mean by saying that magical thinking is dangerous. All children deserve a quality education. There is a limited amount of tax dollars available to achieve this purpose so we must very careful and prudent with our education policy.

By pretending that there are no costs associated with Question 2, the proponents of this measure endanger the financial solvency of school districts and their ability to provide an education to all children.

[1] The state reimburses public schools for a six year period for the loss of a students. The first year is 100%, then 25% for five years. The ballot initiative is 12 charter schools or 1% of the number of students in Massachusetts, 1% of students = 9,500 x average per pupil of $11,054 = $105M per year. Conservatively by this rationale is would take about 10 years to get to $1 billion in new spending for new charters.

 

Families with kids with special needs should be concerned about Question 2

This post gets to the heart of why I am against charter school expansion. It’s a little long and kind of wonkish. It’s not as dramatic as some of my other posts. But I really feel the need to explain in as sober a way as possible why I feel that voters should reject Question 2.

When discussing Question 2, we do not hear a lot from families with special needs even though I believe they could be severely impacted by the passage of this question. I do not believe that their needs have been taken into account as we weigh this issue.

My essential concern is that we are bifurcating our school system into two systems. One system is well funded and the other struggles to provide the same level of services every year. The struggling system is the one that is responsible for educating most of the children, and the children with the most serious needs.

Now I hear your unasked question. Don’t charters serve the same number of kids with IEPs?

Here is where it is important to parse the data.

Using flat percentages across the state, yes, they have roughly the same percentages of kids with IEPs. But you have to look at the data.

In urban schools, we are serving SPED students at a higher rate:

Boston: 25% more kids with IEPs are served in BPS than charters.

In Lawrence and Salem, 75% more kids with IEPS are in the district schools than in charters, and in Worcester and Chicopee, 50% more kids on IEPs are in the district schools.

Most children on IEPs in charters have either a communications impairment (meaning they need speech) or a specific learning disability (meaning they have an issue with a specific subject like math).

Traditional public schools are serving the kids with the highest needs. We have nearly twice the number of autistic kids, kids that are developmentally delayed, and have intellectual disabilities.

Traditional schools serve nearly all of the blind, deaf, and kids with neurological impairments or physical impairments.

Also, charter schools have all of their IEP kids in either inclusion or partial inclusion settings.

Traditional schools have sub separate programs that serve 10% of our IEP kids. These are the kids who are not able to be integrated at all into a regular classroom.

So yes, flat percentages, they serve an equal amount. But traditional public schools serve the kids with the highest needs.

But these are the most important statistics. You can find them here:

https://www.masc.org/images/news/2015/20151013_MASC_Charter-Schools_Who-Is-Being-Served_opt.pdf

I think this is something the public needs to understand. Charter schools work for some kids but certainly not all kids. They work well for kids who have a supportive family environment and they work well for kids who are able to modify their behavior to meet the charters’ strict discipline codes.

But there are some children who will never ever be able to function in a charter environment. So what we really are doing is resegregating our schools. Maybe it isn’t along racial lines but we are sorting our children into a system of winners and losers.

And I hear your next question. But isn’t charter school admittance by lottery? Couldn’t the special needs kids just sign up?

Sure, you can enter your child. But if their disability interferes with their ability to conform, they won’t be able to stay.

I’ve embedded a video from a father who tells his story of his kids experience in a Massachusetts charter school. I have posted the video with this father’s permission.

It is just one story but it was one that I heard again and again when I was working as a parent advocate. It was one of the reasons why I became so alarmed at the growth of the charter school sector.

The children who are in charters do not have more potential than the children in regular public schools. Their education shouldn’t be favored just because a parent entered their name into a lottery.

It is wrong of us to decide that we only need to educate some of the children. We as a society have a responsibility to educate all of the children. We should not be siphoning off funds and setting up a small portion of our kids on a path to success while neglecting the rest. All children have a right to an education. And we cannot abdicate that duty.

And the fight goes on

A Boston Herald opinion piece recently compared the fight for charter schools to same sex marriage. I do believe that there are some parallels to the two political movements even if the gentleman came to completely the wrong conclusions.

Ten years ago, I couldn’t sleep. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court had declared in Goodridge vs. the Department of Health, that gays and lesbians had a right to marry under the Massachusetts state constitution.

That decision garnered quite a bit of interest to say the least. The legal maneuvers are somewhat complicated to explain. But essentially, the Christian right mobilized and money came pouring in from out of state to try and convince Massachusetts to change its state constitution. At the time, I believed that this would head to a statewide vote.

I couldn’t believe that voters were going to be able to vote on something that so intimately affected my life. It had a happy ending. The vote was stopped in the legislature but I’ll never forget the experience.

Now, a decade later, I’m again pacing the halls at night. I love my children’s BPS schools. But a statewide vote on charter schools threatens their school communities. Statewide, voters will decide on whether or not to allow 12 new charter schools a year, every year. If Question 2 passes, up to 45 BPS schools could close in the next 12 years.

The question is being funded by wealthy, out of state interests, who want access to our education dollars. This is exactly what fighting for gay marriage felt like. The campaign for Yes on 2 is trying to convince voters to vote yes. And that yes will hurt my family. All of our families.

I hope Massachusetts will again reject out of state interests, just like they did before, and vote No on 2.

In the meantime, please watch this video that the unstoppable Krissy Cabbage made about the fight to save our public schools.