In the quest for qualityschools for all Boston students, the External Advisory Committee (EAC) killed a lot of trees and presented a lot of data in numerous scenarios. The most important piece of “data,” that was never presented by the EAC, is the MCAS test scores of BPS students by neighborhood. I still would like to see that, and now I would like to see the MCAS test scores of BPS students by neighborhood who are attending the charter schools that have saturated East Zone! Students are the data, where high scoring students are assigned will determine a schools “quality.”
At last nights meeting, Superintendent Carol R. Johnson said that she and her staff are “working diligently to improve quality across the school district, and those efforts will continue.” She didn’t tell the crowd her “efforts” included jumping on Mayor Menino’s bandwagon to turn 38, Level 3 schools into “turnaround schools.” Those “tools” those Superintendent Johnson and Mayor Menino are trying to legislate will include sending the hearts of these schools, those teachers who have kept these Level 3 schools afloat, and who have made a commitment to the students in their schools, marching around the city!
Mayor Menino, with the help of Dr. Johnson, created a “Portfolio of Schools,” a school system of haves and have not’s, when he allowed the saturation of charter schools in the East Zone. He has come to realize that he is not going get his way and eliminate the cities busing expense by just throwing kids off the bus and putting them back into a local school. So Mayor Menino is trying to legislate it. His major goal isn’t to provide “quality” to district schools, it is to end busing costs. His proposed legislation will only further dismantle our traditional schools, leaving families with even less choice, no voice, and no city accountability.
Traditional Boston Public Schools do not compete on a level playing field. BPS Traditional Public Schools have been purposely set up to fail by Court Street! Historically BPS has moved programs and populations of students, with a history of failure, into traditional schools around the city. Court Street did this to financially supplement the school system. When these schools failed, they qualified for more Federal, State, and private grants. When the grant ran out at a school, the failing program and its students were moved to another school. The BPS reapplied for the grant, and it would begin again.
The English High School is a perfect example. Back in 2005, EHS was cut-up into “Small Learning Communities,” (Gates & Carnegie Grants) then on the eve of being taken over by the State, it became a “Commonwealth CO-Pilot” (State Grant) that never took off. How could it, EHS had a 35% SPED population, and a 65% ELL population – the highest in the State! When that money ran out, EHS was “transformed” into a “turnaround” school that qualified for “Race to the Top” money!
Mayor Menino and Dr. Johnson’s legislation will not only move teachers, it will move “programs” of students around the city. Remember when the Gavin was given away to UP Segregation Charter! The BPS didn’t “buy” seats for the SEI Vietnamese students and made the multi-handicapped program citywide – but moved these students’ names to the Murphy School roll! If this is the “diligence” Dr. Johnson thinks will improve quality in Boston, she needs to go home to Tennessee. At last nights EAC meeting parents and community leaders all but told her so! The “key word” of the last night meetings was QUALITY!