Tuesday, June 2, 2015

DESE Ready to Further Decimate Boston Public Schools

Good news charter school "Proven Providers"! It looks as though the Boston Public Schools' budget crises has opened the door for an additional 668 Commonwealth Charter seats in the BPS school district.

I'm as surprised as you are.

Let's see how this works.
  •  Boston Public Schools',
  •  Due to rising costs,
  •  And the loss of over $125 million a year in tuition to Commonwealth Charter Schools,
  •  That help cause budget shortfalls totaling $108 million over the last two years,
  •  Resulting in cuts to all services imaginable, and facilitating the loss of hundreds of educators,
  •  Is about to get some help in being further de-funded - thanks to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education offering 668 more Commonwealth Charter School seats in the BPS school district.

You see, the charter school cap is actually a spending cap - a percentage of district spending. In Boston, that percentage is 18%. As our costs and our spending go up, so will the number of charter school seats....

In Boston our schools are funded by enrollment. The loss of another 668 students to Commonwealth Charter Schools will take another $9,853.000, per year, away from BPS (at $14,750 per student), or, on average, another $78,200 per BPS school.

The 668 seat increase will bring the total Commonwealth Charter enrollment in Boston to around 9,168 students, and bring BPS's total loss of funding (tuition) to Commonwealth Charter Schools to right around $134,853,000 - annually.

On average, that 9,168 Commonwealth Charter School enrollment breaks down to 72.76 less kids, per BPS school.

On average, that means $1,073,238.10 less funding per BPS school.

On average, that means 2.97 less children in each and every BPS classroom.

What I want to know, and what I want DESE to explain to us is, what can a school that's already lost $1M in funding - cut out - with a loss of only 3 children per classroom? What additional cuts can a school make, considering the $108 million BPS has already absorbed in the underfunding of the last two years?

Now they're asking telling forcing BPS to take another 9.85 million dollar hit?

It's done. BPS is being decimated due to a man made ed reform crises, and it's killing any chance of success a BPS school might still have.

Just to be clear, Boston has no say in whether these new Commonwealth Charter Schools open or not. Our School Committee, and you and I, have no say. We will get new schools whether we need them or not. We will get new schools whether we want them or not.

This is what our Department of Elementary and Secondary Education thinks will help Boston? Help our children? Or is it because of one of the many well funded outside groups influence: Democrats for Education Reform, Stand for Children, Families for Excellent Schools, Unify Boston, or the Boston Foundation, that simply want schools to be privatized, no matter what the consequences?

The only good news I see is that the new seats need to be provided by "Proven Providers", and that's going to be really hard to find.

Let's take a look at some Boston charter schools - and what they are calling success.

Boston Foundation's 2014 Winner of its "Pozen Prize" for "Excellence".

So.... which one of these "Proven Providers" is worth expanding to further de-fund our traditional public schools? 

I really want to know.

I do know that people will say that "parents want choice". I know that we will hear "Failing Schools", "77,000 Reasons" and "Don't Steal Possible" - because the billionaire hedge-fund-manager funded "Unify Boston" and "Families for Excellent Schools" have been out canvasing for months, and placing full page ads in local newspapers, recruiting parents to chant exactly that.

With each Boston Public School now dealing with a mere 3 student per classroom decline in enrollment, that's resulted in an average of over $1 million dollars each school has had to cut in spending, who's stealing possible?

Choice? Boston parents have become extremely concerned about our choice of choosing to place our children in Boston Public Schools. That choice is being taken away from us, the vast majority of Bostonians with school children.

You can't tell me this is about improving schools. When I look at the data, it's obvious that it's not.

I can't believe that anyone actually thinks taking millions and millions of dollars in resources away from an urban, high needs, high poverty, high ELL, high minority district, to add charter schools that appear to be nothing more than a charade, is the answer to solving Bostons' problems.

The goal is something far different than actually helping children.

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