Sunday, May 17, 2015

Families for Excellent Schools - NYC Hedge Funders Take Over Massachusetts Education

Please read the blog and then, if you would be so kind, sign the petition.

Families for Excellent Schools (AKA Unify Boston) is a New York City based lobbying, charter school promotion organization that has extremely deep pockets and is more than happy to bowl over anything, and anyone, that gets in the way of its goal of taking public tax dollars and placing them into private hands.

They spend humongous amounts of money to get what they want. I'm pretty sure $11 million dollars a year is way more than most "grass roots" (that's what they actually call themselves) organizations can come up with.

     From FESs' 990 tax filing last year

As a matter of fact, Families for Excellent Schools has set all time spending records, almost $1.5 million a month - for a multi month span, lobbying the New York State Legislature.

Oh, and heads up if you're a politician, you do not want to get in their way. In March of 2014 Families for Excellent Schools launched a three week, $3.6 million dollar attack on NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio because he stopped three privately owned Success Academy charter schools from setting up in publicly owned buildings.

But I want to talk about Massachusetts.

In December of 2014, Charlie Baker appointed Jim Peyser to be the new secretary of education for the Commonwealth. Before becoming our Secretary of Education, Mr. Peyser worked for... Families for Excellent schools. :(

     From FESs' 990 tax filing last year

Not surprisingly, Mr. Peyser is extremely pro charter school. As a matter of fact, he's so pro charter school that he wishes Mayor Walsh would care a lot less about the Boston Public Schools budget crises (the crises that is a result of charter schools taking $973,500,000 from each BPS school) and be more vocally pro charter school.

Boston Public Schools also has a new superintendent, Dr. Tommy Chang. Sadly, Dr. Chang is also from a charter school background. (If you think this is sounding bad for public schools in Boston, you would be right)

The funny thing about Dr. Chang becoming superintendent is that after a week long dog and pony show with panels interviewing candidates for the position of BPS superintendent, I knew who got the job (and who picked Dr. Chang) hours before the school committee vote. A friend sent me this text on March 3rd at 12:30 in the afternoon. The school committee vote "electing" Dr. Chang was at around 7:00 that night.

Last week (the last few weeks?) Dr. Chang appointed his cabinet. I'll give you one guess as to what organization his new chief of staff, Makeebe McCreary, worked (works?) for. That's right, the very organization that promotes lifting the charter school cap (and subsequently completely de-funding BPS) Families for Excellent Schools. 

What this is boiling down to is that - the people who are paying for and whose children attend BPS, the taxpayers and citizens of Boston, have lost all say in what happens in, and to, our schools. 

State wide and city wide, outside organizations are swooping in, swooping up our tax dollars and making decisions that should be our decisions. 

If you haven't read it yet, please read about the impact that charter schools have had, to the tune of $973,500.00 less funding, per BPS school, here.

These are our schools. Our children attend them. Our taxes pay for them. We do not want hedge fund managers from NYC infiltrating and taking over what belongs to us. As parents and Bostonians we need to speak up because we're the only ones that can - without fear of repercussion.

John Lerner, Roxbury BPS parent and member of the Boston Educational Justice Alliance.