BPS too complex for parents to navigate; new group says it will help solve that

Former City Councilor John Connolly is back in the Boston spotlight, with a new parenting group he says will help cut through an impenetrable BPS system that makes it difficult for parents to figure out why things happen the way they do and help them figure out what to do about it.

SchoolFacts Boston touts that it will have an advisory board made up of parents from numerous Boston neighborhoods, reflecting the racial and ethnic makeup of Boston, and that it will tackle issues spread across BPS, charter, religious and private schools. Its launch today was helped with a grant from the Barr Foundation

The group is not the first group to tackle education in Boston. Quality Education for Every Student has been active since 2012, and is a member of the the Boston Education Justice Alliance, whose members include both parents and educator unions.

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good

Currently waiting on my son's K1 assignment. My wife and I both have PhDs and we still found the whole thing to be remarkably difficult to understand, not to mention extremely time-consuming between registration, school visits, and application. Anything to make it smoother is worthwhile.

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Voting closed 35

I'm with ya

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My wife and I made the mistake of keeping our daughter in private school for K1 and trying to join midstream for K2. Huge mistake, caused by equal measures of our own ignorance and inscrutable school choice paperwork from BPS. We'll hear in May whether she got one of 3 (3!) open spots in our preferred neighborhood school.

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Voting closed 15

yep

Most schools have the same number of K2 classrooms as K1, so the K1 class just moves up and there aren't open slots for new K2 students.

Just one of a thousand important little details that nobody really tells you.

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Voting closed 22

What's so hard?

Just ask your local city councilor how they got their kids into their number 1 choice of schools and then do the same thing. Every city councilor I've ever asked 'Magically' got their kid into one of the top schools.

I am sure John Connolly could shed some 'transparency' on this if he would like.

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Voting closed 31

Well, except for the

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Well, except for the politicians who won't even consider sending their kids to the schools in the district because of "faith reasons." I think that actually means they have no faith in how our schools are being run in their district, and don't want to try to do anything about it. But they probably meant something completely different .....

Also, while we're on the subject - notice how few of our officials actually went to public schools themselves, but now are experts on them.

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Voting closed 8

still looking for this data

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I have never come across any evidence that connected folks get their top choice, despite that it may happen. Can you shed some light?

Is Connolly really the poster-child for this phenomenon? I always respected him for supporting his kids' school, the Trotter, a middle of the pack choice.

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Voting closed 3

Yup

We're currently waiting for our K1 assignment also. I started doing research when our kid turned two.
I'm very glad we started early because there's a lot to educate yourselves about.
That being said, I found countdowntokindergarten.org and discoverbps.org important places to start.

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Voting closed 12

Parents only?

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What about the 90% plus of Bostonians that don't have kids in the schools. Shouldn't some of them be included on this board?

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Voting closed 8

This is not a taxpayer's club

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This is not a taxpayer's club. Its a private organization created to aid parents in dealing with the bureaucracy of BPS, and to create proposals that might alleviate some of the pain of dealing with the monolithic BPS administration.

So, no, they shouldn't be included unless they're asked to join.

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Voting closed 48

two options then

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1) they could ask other taxpayers to join

2) taxpayers without kids can form a separate group and ask for a seat at the table

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Voting closed 2

I'm not really sure what you're saying

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1) They could, but I think they wont, unless they serve as subject matter experts to help drive policy.

2) They sure can, but I don't see the benefit to this group if that were to happen.

To be clear, there is no "table." They've created a group and are likely to ask BPS and the School Committee for time to hear proposals, or to be cranky about stuff, I have no idea. I support people being cranky in public as a general principle. Everyone else in the city has exactly the same right to be heard, and if you count yourself amongst those people that have something to be said before the School Committee, then goshdarnit go right ahead, but don't argue exclusion, even indirectly, because a school parents group didn't invite non-parents. It lacks merit on its face.

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Voting closed 20

Who is Stevil Galt?

Noble Stevil is one of the glorious lights of our city who pays taxes (!) on his home in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city and in exchange, we, the takers who have selfishly decided to have kids, should really focus our energies on how to best thank him for his noble service in ... er paying taxes to live in a nice neighborhood instead of how to navigate a very large complex organization.

Now, I'm off to demand that I am admitted to the BPD detectives' social club on Hyde Park Ave because I pay real estate taxes in the city that pay their salaries - who's with me?

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Voting closed 19

Oh come now

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I'm not willing to ascribe anything to what he said that isn't on the page. I'm mostly not here to shit-stir, especially when it comes to BPS. If he's got a legitimate complaint about being disenfranchised by this system, I'll listen. I don't see that here, specifically, but going all Randyan on him is not furthering the discussion.

Now where's that BPD Detective's club? I've got extra stakeout gear to break in.

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Voting closed 11

People love the Rand thing if you are an inch right of socialist

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At least out here they love ascribing Ayn Rand to anyone that dares question what we spend on schools - which has risen to absurd levels. Even an analysis by the school board a couple of years ago identified about 10% in "inefficiencies". My "Randian" opinion is that a really sharp pencil might get us to about 15% savings - and you don't do it by cutting - you just do it by not raising the budget every year. How "Randian" of me! Keep in mind that 15% of the school budget is in the neighborhood of $200 million - in a city that runs everything but public safety, fixed costs and schools on about $800 million, the potential for improvement to Parks, infrastructure, technology and more is enormous - without sacrificing any educational opportunities other than demanding they do it more efficiently.

The school budget now devours over 40% of the total budget including charter schools. And that doesn't include, pensions, retirement benefits, capital expenditures on schools that are debt financed and more. The city budget overall is actually pretty reasonable and in parts austere outside of the education department. I'd like to see a taxpayers group that finally demands accountability. When almost half our money is going to a system that is so dysfunctional it's hard to even sign up for it - it's a little hard to swallow that we are getting our money's worth and there is tremendous expertise outside just groups of parents from others that can and should weigh in on some of these issues.

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Voting closed 9

Sure but that's not what's being discussed here

A group of Boston parents want to help other parents and prospective parents navigate their best choices for educating their kids within the Boston public schools (including charter). Nothing to do with the budget but you're hopping up on your soapbox to cry about representation?

Prospective BPS parent: what are my choices and how do school lotteries work?
Stevil: you are wasting my tax dollars. Stop it.
Prospective BPS parent: that... that didn't help at all.

What would your roll be in helping parents better use the existing public resource? This isn't about the budget at all unless you only view improving parent experience as a zero sum game where any attempt to make the system better would only attract more students, leading to larger budgets.

Meanwhile, here are some other folks wasting a lot of public money - want to be some of them live in your gilded neighborhood? https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/03/18/pay-records-show-hefty-spen...

Side note - I guess it's the union HQ:

https://www.bpdbs.com
434 Hyde Park Ave, Roslindale, MA 02131

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Voting closed 9

Reread the post

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...advisory board made up of parents from numerous Boston neighborhoods, reflecting the racial and ethnic makeup of Boston, and that it will tackle issues spread across BPS, charter, religious and private schools.

This isn't just about signing up and navigating the system. that's just for openers. This is an advocacy group that will very likely be looking for more dollars to spend. I don't have a crystal ball, but that's historically what these kinds of groups are about - "Oh, there's a problem - let's throw more money at it".

You do point out what many have suspected for years. Keep throwing money at it (with about 9000 employees, most of whom have residency requirements - that's a huge chunk of votes). But then don't actually make it better so parents and kids keep opting out (more money, but less work for the 9000 - nice gig if you can get it).

I know, BPS does much better than most other school systems. But curiously, despite the enormous sums we increasingly spend, BPS generally doesn't seem to fare any better against other systems in the state year after year.

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Voting closed 3

okay

but I think it's a stretch that when a group of concerned parents launches a group to try to improve the school experience or at least examine it with fresh eyes, your first reaction is a) why just parents and b) to then make the leap that this non-elected, non-city affiliated board will somehow gain budgetary control within the city.

To clarify the mild vitriol my initial post has, it's a carry over from your post from last week which sought to split the city, a large, diverse urban area into areas which generate tax dollars and areas which consume tax dollars. That's antithetical to how I believe a place like Boston (or the US) should work hence my strong reaction. Once you start deciding that the poor people shouldn't be benefiting from the taxes generated by Boston being the financial center of the region, where's that line of thinking stop? If they can't pay for the upkeep of the Quabbin system, do they lose water privileges next? It's a poisonous way to view the world.

I would agree BPS can and should be reformed and improved. I don't agree our city should be splintered for wealthy tax payer benefit.

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Voting closed 11

I'm a bit more cynical

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When I see a former politician with outside foundation funding promoting a "concerned parents group" (and I like John Connolly - even voted for him for Mayor). Keep in mind the number one focus of power in this city is real estate. Number two is the schools - which is why anyone coming in with bold ideas about "reform" will never get elected. If you have power and want to keep it, the status quo is your friend.

Nobody said anything about rich and poor and it's hard to qualify West Roxbury, Roslindale or JP as poor and they'd be first on the cut list - likely along with Eastie and Charlestown for simple geographic reasons.

It's about interests not being represented. One example - about 15 years ago a group in Beacon Hill said they would literally put up the money to buy a then private school if the city would basically just agree to maintain and staff it because there was no elementary school in Beacon Hill, Back Bay or the West End. There was of course full understanding that 50% of the kids would come from other parts of the city - that's how it works. Menino told them to literally take a hike (again - the question is raised about how good they actually want to make the schools). Why should downtown continue to send MASSIVE funding to the rest of the city when we are told to take a hike if we ask for the most basic of services like a school (and don't even get me started on the parks - they are almost completely funded with private money except for the most basic services like cutting the grass, snow plowing and trash removal).

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Voting closed 3

less money, less complications?

The problem with the public school department isn't how much money it gets as much as how it spends it. It is a very top heavy bureaucracy.

As far as Beacon Hill residents "buying" a local school goes, that is exactly the problem. Maintaining a building on Beacon Hill is very expensive. The whole charter school concept is a waste. If your special school is so great, why can't you get people to pay tuition? Why does anyone believe that charter schools provide a better education when all of them pay their teachers and other employees less? Why don't the students perform better after all the competition and all the emotionally disabled kids get kicked out?

Despite the fact that the superintendent is not elected, we still get high profile temps. We should just make it an elected position. I am not a parent, but educating children improves my quality of life just as much as fixing roads and street lights.

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Voting closed 4

???

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I agree with you that part of the problem is the way BPS spends money.

This wasn't supposed to be a charter school. It was supposed to be a district, or maybe an in district charter (but I think this may have happened before there was such a thing). I also believe the renovations would be funded with the purchase -so little maintenance for many years to come and it's a brick building like everything else - except maybe for some historical windows or something, about the same as every other brick schoolhouse in the city. A drop in the bucket compared to staffing. And that was the thing - people would clamor to get into a school like this and there are serious people asking the serious question if there are people behind the scenes that are perfectly happy if BPS fails.

Tuition? You do realize that the vast majority of kids in charters are underprivileged. In fact, that's the mission of several charters - to educate underprivileged kids. Why do people believe they provide a better education? The results speak for themselves (if you get through - and the dropout rate and funding formulas are a legit beef with charters). But my point is and has been - we are helping the most underserved population in the city - not special needs (Boston has great programs and tons of money for that) and not the high performers (BLS, BLA). But the middle of the road kids that may be late bloomers or just need to get away from the other problems of public school are very well served in these environments.

As for electing the superintendent - this is a job that requires specific skills, not a popularity contest. You are not going to get someone with those skills having an election of local people.

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Voting closed 1

There is no evidence that

There is no evidence that charter schools perform better than public schools. It is unfortunate that parents believe the voodoo. It is worse that these schools use my tax dollars to carry on this pretense.

Electing a superintendent cannot do worse than the current hiring process. At least we will get someone that wants to live in Boston. And 75% of the people in the Bolling Building are useless.

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Voting closed 2

BS

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Boston Foundation did a study a few years ago controlling for other factors showing that charter kids outperform BPS kids that applied to charters but didn't get in - among other studies.

As for my tax dollars - personally I'd rather they go to charters than BPS any day of the week. At least 75% of the people in charters aren't useless. They run on a shoestring. they are WAYYYYYYYYY underfunded compared to BPS and use their $$$ very wisely. I've even made donations over and above my tax dollars to fund a charter that I particularly believe in.

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Voting closed 1

I know what the Bolling building is

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And please get back when you find an article that pertains to Boston AND is not written by morons that can't analyze a budget. When you quote Vaznis, a lazy mouthpiece for city hall and the Bolling Building, it makes you even dumber than he is. Vaznis is the WORST journalist on the Globe staff and I have no idea why he is still working there.

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Voting closed 0

Hmm

Well I clarified what the Bolling building was because you claimed I said that 75% of charter school staff were useless. I was referring to Boston Public School staff at Headquarters.

I don't need to get back to someone that still hasn't posted a link that backs up your claims.

Please explain why statistics about charter schools across the united states don't apply to Boston.

Despite all the name calling, you can't seem to explain what is wrong about the article.

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Voting closed 0

Well...

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Re-read my post - I was saying that charters operate INCREDIBLY efficiently. I was generally agreeing that many at the Bolling are useless.

Anyone active in charter discussions knows that all charters are not created equally across states. Mass is generally a model for the nation (although not perfect - especially on a few particular funding issues).

Most of the weaknesses in charters in other states have been addressed in Massachusetts.

Here's a link to one of the Boston Foundation's research study conclusions:

https://www.tbf.org/news-and-insights/press-releases/2010/may/boston-fou...

Here's an email from a charter exec I received this morning - impressive stats and they continue to improve. Keep in mind they serve a mostly underprivileged community:

Hello, Uncommon Friends and Supporters —

The recent college admissions scandal left many of us feeling disheartened and outraged. The shameless and selfish exercise of socioeconomic privilege we saw revealed in anecdote after anecdote was a dispiriting reminder of the inequalities embedded in our system – as was knowing that deserving, talented students were denied admission at these colleges and universities because of this abuse of power.

That is why I want to take this moment to instead celebrate the accomplishments of our own students at Uncommon. Our students are excelling at the highest levels because of their own intelligence and tenacity. They are overcoming obstacles through their unceasing efforts, and the unwavering dedication of their teachers, families and supporters from kindergarten through 12th grade and beyond.

I am proud to share that 92 of Uncommon’s seniors – almost one-fifth of the 2019 graduating class – have been accepted to their top college via early decision or early action. Additionally, 58 percent of the Class of 2018 enrolled in more selective schools this past fall – our highest rate in the past three years. This matters because our own alumni data shows us what this recent article highlights: our students who go to more selective colleges, which have much higher graduation rates – particularly for Black and Latino students – are more likely to graduate themselves.

At Uncommon, we are using this moment to rededicate ourselves to our core work of seeing all of our 19,000 students graduate from college, allowing recent events to motivate us to invest in our students with even more fervor as they develop into their very best, authentic selves.

Thank you for your continued support of our work: building schools rooted in social justice and our fundamental belief that our students will change history, and teaching, challenging, mentoring, and supporting our students every step of the way as they achieve their dreams.

Brett Peiser
Chief Executive Officer

And if you ever believe anything Vaznis has to tell you, I've got a bridge to sell you. He's been around for years and just gets worse with age.

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Voting closed 1

Wow, a study from 2010?

https://credo.stanford.edu/pdfs/CMO%20FINAL.pdf

While it identifies Uncommon as one of the super network charter schools that have been more successful, it does not include the Boston schools in its stats.

https://www.npr.org/2013/07/16/201109021/the-charter-school-vs-public-sc...

Like previous studies, the one from CREDO concluded that kids in most charter schools are doing worse or no better than students in traditional public schools.

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Voting closed 1

Again with the national statistics?

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Yes - 2010 - they could redo it and get the same result. I know - you know what's better for children than their parents.

You are obviously not very informed on this issue. Anyone close to it knows that Mass charters are under much stricter regulation and control than those in most other states. Get back to me when you can demonstrate that this performance holds for Boston schools. I WON'T be holding my breath.

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Voting closed 1

Insecure much?

We have only had charters since 93. To pretend that a third of available data is irrelevant is cherry picking. Just like stating that nationwide data doesn’t apply to Massachusetts. Prove it. Facts matter.

You don’t even seem to know where your donations are going. No wonder you are stressed by my comments.

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Voting closed 2

I know where my donations are going

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Read the letter from Uncommon Schools CEO. Great stuff!

Not sure what you mean by 1/3 of data etc., but anyone knowledgeable about charters knows that Mass charters look very little like charters in the rest of the country. The data in Mass is VERY clear that our system works.

Bottom line - roughly 10,000 kids are thriving in Boston charters - and a bunch of people want to take that away for some reason. And not provide that same opportunity to as many kids as would like to attend. I don't get why supposed liberals want to do something that hurts kids and their families.

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Voting closed 2

Uncommon Schools manages 52

Uncommon Schools manages 52 schools in 6 regions. Do you get to designate your money for Boston? There is no evidence that the 10,000 students, while surely happy at their charter, are going to do better on standardized tests or college. And why aren't all the students in boston entitled to thrive?

For all of your insults, you haven't produced facts to support your claims. Where is this Massachusetts data that is so clear?

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Voting closed 1

Not only Boston

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But the specific school it goes to.

I'm not going to do your homework for you - see the Boston Foundation study and the letter I copied.

Plus - 10,000 kids have opted for charters and thousands more would - but a bunch of uninformed voters decided to prevent them from pursuing better educationsal opportunities.

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Voting closed 1

It's an advertisement to raise money, not real research

And again, its from 2010. There is a strong argument against my opinion but you don't seem smart enough to make it.

All BPS kids deserve a great education. I have posted several links that point out that new charter schools do much worse than public schools, so increasing the amount of charter schools is a bad idea. Charter schools take tax money because they aren't good enough to get anyone to pay tuition. Your donations would be better spent in high quality private school scholarships.

Just try to explain why all charter schools pay their employees less. It is consistent in Boston and all across the nation. What does paying a teacher less have to do with improving education?

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Voting closed 1

Like having a conversation with my dining room table

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As Barney Frank would say.

So if you prove the earth is round you need a study every year to reprove it? And your article was from 2013 - big difference.

You are clearly clueless in this argument about how things work in Massachusetts.

You equate price to value. I know a great 2nd grade teacher in NY that makes well over $100k a year. A younger teacher makes $50k. Who's better? Who knows? But high pay in teacher world just means old, not good or bad.

charters aren't allowed to charge tuition. They are PUBLIC schools funded with PUBLIC dollars. Does BPS charge tuition.

Are you seriously asking these questions and telling me I'm not "smart engough to make" whatever argument I'm supposed to be making - other than you have no idea how the system works?

I can't argue with a dining room table.

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Voting closed 1

Look at you! reading and analyzing something!

Yes I did post one article from 2013, but the salon article is from 2019 and the Stanford research was published in 2017.

And when charter schools have only been around since 1993, then obviously you need more than one study to know that it is working. And the studies are saying that at most, charter schools are equal to public schools. Why should we drain the school budget for same academic results?

I equate a consistent pattern of lower salaries at all charter school with less value for teachers. I ask why do all charter schools pay less? How does that improve learning? Charter schools can't charge tuition because they aren't worth tuition. They had to become charter schools because they aren't good enough to make it as private schools.

All have done is insult me. You blather on, and on, but avoid providing evidence. You know you are wrong and that's why poor stevil keeps name calling.

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Voting closed 1

Get back to me...

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...when you learn why Mass charters are different. we aren't even starting in the same ballpark. Your links are fake news when it comes to Mass charters.

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Voting closed 1

Dining Room Tables

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should be seen and not heard. You'll note even Bernie and Phil and Bob don't sell talking dining room tables.

There's a reason.

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Voting closed 2

word salad

again, no facts. You just aren't good at this.

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Voting closed 1

Uncommon Schools manages 52

Uncommon Schools manages 52 schools in 6 regions. Do you get to designate your money for Boston? There is no evidence that the 10,000 students, while surely happy at their charter, are going to do better on standardized tests or college. And why aren't all the students in boston entitled to thrive?

For all of your insults, you haven't produced facts to support your claims. Where is this Massachusetts data that is so clear?

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Voting closed 1

Uncommon Schools manages 52

Uncommon Schools manages 52 schools in 6 regions. Do you get to designate your money for Boston? There is no evidence that the 10,000 students, while surely happy at their charter, are going to do better on standardized tests or college. And why aren't all the students in boston entitled to thrive?

For all of your insults, you haven't produced facts to support your claims. Where is this Massachusetts data that is so clear?

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Voting closed 3

Social Club

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Fire and police unions have a few set up around the city - listed as "commercial/social club" on the assessor's website.

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Voting closed 2

Some of them do live in my neighborhood

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I know a few of them VERY WELL. Back Bay isn't nearly as "gilded" as you might think and the economics of living here are very different for those of us who are multi-decade residents. But keep on assuming your assumptions about everyone else's financial situation.

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Voting closed 1

Interesting

I'm wary of any group that says they have the facts. Especially groups with the actual word "Facts" in their name. It's like a certain news program touting that they're "fair and balanced." If you have to say it so blatantly, maybe it's not really true at all.

What facts are they talking about? Student population at a school, after school programs, school location? Those sound like real facts and it would be good if there was an easy to use hub to find them. Aside from that, there are only opinions and data that people can massage to create so called facts. I hope that they don't start posting test scores as a "fact" for how good a school is. Test scores aren't designed to determine school quality, they are only designed to determine what students know and can do within a certain margin of error. That's it. Anything else is an abuse of that data.

Also, there is this from their website- "SchoolFacts Boston is committed to transparency." And yet they post nothing about their family advisory board besides the name and neighborhood of the folks on it and nothing about where they get their money. Hopefully, they prove me wrong and become an actual transparent org that sticks to the real facts. So far, I'm not impressed.

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Voting closed 22

Great questions. I tweeted

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Great questions. I tweeted this comment to them with a request for information related to their funding and structure. Maybe they'll address it by shoring up the supporting materials on their website.

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Voting closed 8

Kids go to nearest school.

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Kids go to nearest school. Schools at which 50 percent or more of student pop has one mother without a college degree get 50 percent extra funding for support services and enrichment. Tell me why I am wrong.

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Voting closed 3

Oh man, so many reasons.

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Oh man, so many reasons. Nonuniform distributions of students and school-seats is a great start. Your method assumes that the population can be served by the local schools. This is categorically false, all over the cities, with oversupply and undersupply in equal measures. Secondly, your funding "equation" assumes that money == quality, which is also false, though you'll have to find some other patsy to do your research for you.

Here's some NEU research addressing point 1, above:

https://www.northeastern.edu/csshresearch/bostonarearesearchinitiative/p...

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Voting closed 10

BPS schools are already largely for under-privileged kids

The funding mechanism gives more money to kids with learning disabilities, disadvantaged backgrounds, language challenges, etc... Most schools, even in a middle class neighborhood like Roslindale, have more poor students than middle class ones. You won't find many schools outside of the West Roxbury ones that aren't already getting (and needing) additional resources.

tl:dr that 50% cut off is both too arbitrary and likely not the big outlier you might think.

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Voting closed 4

This is rich.

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The charter school crowd is going to fix BPS for parents? How about stop sending your kids to schools that funnel money from the PUBLIC school system. With a grant from the Barr Foundation, no less.

But I guess Connolly's got to find something to do with his free time...

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Voting closed 16

That's all well and good

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That's all well and good until its your kid who only has slots available in level 3 and 4 schools. Would you send your kid to a school the City deems mediocre? The good schools are only open to those lucky* enough to get access through the lottery. My choice, realistically, is a 1% chance (probably much less) at our preferred school, or private school this year and we'll try again with the lottery next year. To think for a second that I would put my child in a less than excellent school is just absolutely ludicrous and I count myself lucky that I can afford to make that decision. BPS gets my money either way.

*ymmv

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Voting closed 9

Wrong

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The Level 3 and 4 things are meaningless. Some of the best schools in the system have those designations. It's based on MCAS scores which don't take into account a lot of things, both intangible and tangible like English-language learners at a school. If there's one thing people can take from this comment thread, it's do not base where you send your child on those at all. Go look at the schools and talk to the parents there now.

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Voting closed 13

Your statement is a gross

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Your statement is a gross oversimplification. Student growth, skill mastery, community engagement, and a number of other things go into the ranking system. Its there for you to read it. MCAS only feeds a small portion of that. We've toured a number of schools and we selected the one that we found sufficient. I found the rankings to line up with my experiences at the schools, generally speaking.

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Voting closed 4

Still talking about MCAS

Student growth and skill mastery are determined by MCAS scores. The levels are mostly determined by MCAS scores. Sure there are other factors, but MCAS is most of it.

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Voting closed 6

Careful

Matty C you seem well intentioned and maybe you just don't know how racially and economically coded those level three and four schools are. You see, when you say you would never send your child to a level three or four school you are also saying you would never send your child to a school that is mostly filled with children of color that live near or below the poverty line. Or maybe your children are children of color and live at or near the poverty line, but you don't want them mixing with those other children at the level three and four schools. Or maybe I've got you totally wrong and I apologize if I do, but the sad thing is (and this is also why things will probably never change, it's been this way forever) that most people agree with you. Most people wouldn't send their kids there either and don't care enough about other people's children to really do anything about it.

By the way, there will always be level 3 and 4 schools, just like there will always be a last place team in baseball. It's based on percentages and only a certain number of schools can be in the top percentages or the 1 or 2 category. They are state-wide categories and so actually level 3 and 4 schools in MA are still some of the best public schools in the country because MA has the best public schools in the country. These schools would be in level 1 or 2 in the nation, but everything is local and relative it is of little comfort to you if you live in Boston. Just remember that the schools with the most children that are learning English, the most students with disabilities, the most students in poverty, and the most students of color (because it is America after all) will always be in the lowest categories unless there is a "tracked" or "selective" school like some charter schools or exam schools (obviously, students in those categories can do well in school and do so all of the time). Anyway, that's enough ranting for now.

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Voting closed 8

Fake news

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Show me in the budget how charter school funding has funneled money away from BPS. Funneling money away from other things perhaps, but it has actually resulted in exorbitant increases in per capita funding to BPS.

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You know better

You know there is nothing in the budget that says "see this 200 million - it came from our public schools." Budgets are opaque by design. They are never transparent. But the city has at least 200 million less to spend on schooling because the state has not reimbursed the money that charter's have taken away.

Yes, the city continues to spend more on the public schools every year, but it's 200 million less than they could spend if the charters hadn't taken it or if the state reimbursed it. But you don't really care nor can you be convinced otherwise.

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More fake news

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The BPS budget has been determined for at least the past 20 years by a) making next year's budget a little bit bigger than last year's b) provided that it falls between 33% and 35% of the budget (raises the least eyebrows politically). Given that the budget goes up by more than the cost of inflation every year and the school system shrinks by 1-2.5% - there has NEVER been a year where BPS lost funding even after adjusting for inflation, student population or any other factor. BPS currently rivals the most exclusive communities in the state for per capita funding (I believe this is part of why state funding to Boston has been cut - but not an expert on state funding rules)

There is indeed a separate line item - for just shy of $200 million for charter tuitions. Had charters never been invented, you can rest assured that BPS funding would still be around 35% +/- of the budget and per capita funding would be far lower. And that 65% of that $200 million could be spent elsewhere (possibly not wisely or on incremental services). Only about $70 million would have been used to educate the 9000 or so students that migrate back to BPS.

Pretty easy to draw 2 conclusions - charters have not cost BPS a dime (and in fact have allowed them to massively increase per pupil spending) and b) if there were no charters BPS would be far poorer because 65% of the $200 million now spent on charters would have been funneled to other needs - parks (many of which are almost entirely privately funded), technology (as recently as last year I saw city financial employees working on green DOS screens), and infrastructure (lights, roads, recycling and who knows what else).

I don't need to be convinced otherwise. I understand how the process works and I know how to analyze the data.

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“Two decades ago, state

“Two decades ago, state educational aid covered almost a third of Boston’s school expenses,” writes Globe reporter James Vaznis. Today, “city officials anticipate that in just a few years every penny from the state will instead go toward charter-school costs of Boston students. Boston is slated to receive $220 million in state education aid; about $167 million will cover charter-school tuition for 10,000 students, leaving a little more than $50 million for the 55,000 students in the city school system.”

https://www.salon.com/2019/02/08/charter-schools-are-pushing-public-educ...

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Two decades ago, Boston wasn't a wealthy city

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Now it's just about the wealthiest city in the country. We can self fund the schools. Send the aid to places that need it a lot more than us - Lynn, Fall River, Springfield, New Bedford and more.

stop reading Vaznis. He gets press releases from the city and reproduces them for publication in the Globe. Offered long ago to speak to him. Phone never rang. He only reports one side, and that side has a financially driven agenda.

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solution

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Here's an idea----kids should just be able to go to their neighborhood schools!!!! Have neighborhood friends. Walk to school with them, play with them, call for them.

There is plenty of diversity. Enough with the LOTTERY system!!!! Enough with the busing! Some of these poor kids getting home after 5pm!! How is this helping anyone? Parents and kids up late doing homework and then getting up to get to their buses to trek them across town at 5am!

Parents needs to focus on getting their kids schools in their own neighborhoods back up to par. Work with the city! FIGHT!!!! Join the parent councils, student site councils. Write letters and make phone calls! its hard but as parents, we owe it to our kids to make the schools close by us BETTER.

They shouldn't be on buses for hours, up super early and bed so late because they go to school 3 hours away. Come on, its common sense.

END THE LOTTERY. END BUSING.

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Who is spending 3 hours on a bus?

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To get to a school in Boston?

And what do you do about neighborhoods that simply don't have enough classrooms?

And do you realize that BPS is legally obligated to provide busing for non-BPS schools? And for kids with special needs? That sort of busing wouldn't go away.

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everything in ALL CAPS is exaggerated beyond reason.

Reducing the need for school buses by assigning children to the closest school does have a lot of merit. Transportation is expensive. It seems even more expensive when despite paying for buses with my tax dollars, 90% of K-8 kids are driven to school during my neighborhood into a parking lot every week day morning.

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Have you tried to get home

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Have you tried to get home from, let's sat East Boston in rush hour? You think it's just 20 minutes? What about the kids in Metco? They get bused to schools in Weston, Needham etc? They get home well past 4pm.

Im not talking about ending school buses---but ending busing. To schools outside of walking distance of the child's home. The lottery system is terrible. Its a nightmare for parents and a crap shoot. Why should I have to pick 3 schools for my kid to get into when he lives 1/4 of a mile from 1 of them? It's ridiculous.

Neighborhoods that don't have enough classrooms? Well then we put our heads together. Look at options. Look at expansions, buildings in the area. What can be utilized as classrooms in the building? What parents are willing to step up to the plate and fight for what their kids need/deserve?

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Translation

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DON'T MAKE MY KIDS GO TO SCHOOL WITH NONWHITE KIDS!

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Barr Foundation wants to help BPS parents? Beware!

What (rather, who) is the Barr Foundation, and what is this really about? The Barr Foundation is Amos Hostetter, Cablevision mogul and mega-philanthropist/policy-driver for city services. His money has elevated his acolytes and protégés to public "service" (I use that term loosely), and has given him enormous power in the public arena. Talk about a seat at the table! Amos Hostetter IS the table. Boston Magazine published an excellent article about this unelected mayor of Boston at https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2016/01/31/barr-foundation-boston/

Amos Barr Hostetter (hiding modestly behind his middle name) is a major charter school supporter.

Barr has been generous to several charters, making public education advocates fear that the foundation is on the same path as such charities as the Gates and the Walton foundations, which have poured huge amounts of money into charter schools and are pushing a drive for public policy to support them.

Members of the Citywide Parent Council and Quality Education for Every Student (QUEST)—two groups staunchly opposed to charters—are wary of Barr and its grant-making. They are highly critical of the Boston Compact, a coalition of charter, district, and parochial schools that is funded by Gates. Barr has paid out $150,000 to Boston Public Schools and Wheelock College to help establish the Compact here. The Compact is the driving force behind Boston’s “unified enrollment” plan, which will change the way students are assigned to schools. Barr is also investing $5 million in the Fort Point–based Boston Plan for Excellence (BPE), which runs a nationally recognized teacher-training program as well as a charter school. These connections—combined with Barr’s enormous wealth, influence, and political clout—raise fear and suspicion among parents and advocates who adamantly support public education over privatization. “A small group with a great deal of power and influence is shaping a plan with little input,” says Mary Battenfeld, a member of QUEST and the Citywide Parent Council, and it “will radically restructure and possibly destroy Boston Public Schools.”

John Connolly is a well-qualified "smiley face" front for Hostetter's plan to control and privatize public education via charterization. His mayoral campaign was chosen for backing, to the tune of $500,000, by the discredited and traitorous Stand for Children, a parent group that was hijacked and turned into a charter lobby (https://www.rethinkingschools.org/articles/for-or-against-children). When that intended contribution became public (https://www.wbur.org/news/2013/08/21/connolly-rejects-outside-money), he knew enough to vociferously refuse their money. He hoped to bury the political controversy, but the exposé revealed his true colors. Since his electoral defeat, he has been assisting "turnaround" (read: charterized) schools in Lawrence (https://commonwealthmagazine.org/education/connolly-named-chair-new-lawr...) and Salem (https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/01/06/year-after-mayor-race-john-...).

Now, this story indicates, he's got a grant (although he's disguised inconspicuously, on the website, as just one of the board members) to run SchoolFacts Boston (https://schoolfactsboston.org), a new organization purporting to be

founded and run by Boston families... to work together on Boston education issues. Our Family Advisory Board (FAB) is made up of parents, alumni, students, teachers, and other Bostonians who are committed to creating schools and school systems that create opportunity for all of Boston’s children and families. The FAB meets quarterly to discuss Boston education issues, and to determine the priority areas for SchoolFacts Boston to focus its work.

"Creating schools and school systems that create opportunity for all of Boston's children"? Not exactly just helping confused parents with the BPS school sign-up process, as adamg's headline implies. More like a shadow School Committee, appointed by a multi-billionaire scheming to replace BPS with BPS, Inc.

The home page says:

Fact-based information on our schools.
By Boston families.
For Boston families.

SchoolFacts Boston is committed to transparency. SchoolFacts Boston will disclose all of its donors.

But nowhere on the website is there mention of the Barr Foundation, which founded and funds the organization. Of course, that would impede their ability to lure in earnest parents, teachers, and education advocates, who must be groomed as the grass-roots front for the group.

Stevil, rest easy! SchoolFacts Boston is an organization created not to take public money to throw at the problem, but to put private money to use in expanding the charter market in this city (the public money grab comes later, by others).

And you, a vocal advocate of charters, express agreement with that goal:

"Why do people believe they provide a better education? The results speak for themselves (if you get through - and the dropout rate and funding formulas are a legit beef with charters)"

But it's not a "dropout" rate. It's a "throw-out" rate. The results speak exactly for that: charters throw out (or push or drive or coerce or threaten or intimidate or whatever you want to call it) students who threaten their stellar aggregate test scores, and thus their fat contracts (and the hedge fund investors behind them). That's why they appear to provide a better education -- they can start with a hundred kids (chosen from a group of already screened and self-selected applicants) and every year eject the bottom-scoring layer; then they boast high scores, and high graduation rates for the couple of dozen students who make it till then; the more grades in a charter, the fewer survive the winnowing process. (http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2016/10/more-about-attrition-rates-in-...)

If the BPS schools could choose their students, they'd look much better-performing, too. As Mayor Tom Menino said, back when he still told the truth about charters (before Obama paid the states to charterize), “In Boston Public Schools, we take every kid. We don’t discriminate. We take special education, we take English-language learners,” he said. “Some other schools? ‘Oh, no. We don’t want those kids.’ They dump those kids into the Boston Public Schools. They want 100 percent graduation rates.” Yes, the "dropout" rates sure are a legit beef.

And even with the advantage of a cherry-picked student body, charters don't do well. Just one example: A charter-advocating Boston Foundation report, "Stand and Deliver: Effects of Boston’s Charter High Schools on College Preparation, Entry, and Choice" (http://economics.mit.edu/files/9799) states:

Does charter attendance also increase high school graduation rates? Perhaps surprisingly given the gains in test score graduation requirements reported in Table 4, the estimates in Table 7 suggest not. In fact, charter attendance reduces the likelihood a student graduates on time by 12.5 percentage points, a statistically significant effect.

See the website of the National Education Policy Center (https://nepc.colorado.edu) if you really want fact-based information on charter quality nationwide.

And two excellent blogs: https://dianeravitch.net and https://haveyouheardblog.com and

Beware the Trojan Horse called SchoolFacts Boston! It is here to begin the undoing of the popular vote against Question 2, which would have allowed unfettered proliferation of charter schools. (https://www.wbur.org/edify/2016/11/08/charter-school-ballot-question-res...)

I'm assuming our excellent Boston public school citizen watchdogs are on it!

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