Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Separate and Unequal - Boston's Two School Systems

Originally a Facebook post, reprinted here with the author's permission.

After reading all the Charter school articles and comments and pushes for them, as a Boston Public School special education teacher I want to say my piece. I will preface it with the fact that a few of my friends have children in charter schools and they are excelling. The school is fully supporting their needs and it's been the best experience of their lives.

That's the glitz of it. It absolutely works for some families and I do not want to take away from that.


I teach at one of the poorest schools in the city. Highly SPED populated and ELL populated. 30-40% parent participation on a good day. 20%(give or take) living in foster care, group homes or distant relatives. These students biggest concerns are where they will sleep and/ or what they will eat more so than how they will prepare for the MCAS.

The first 20-30 minutes of each day I spend figuring out who is hungry, who hasn't slept, who experienced abuse the night before, who has drama with their family or friends and that is just the cusp. I then start the lesson with my special education students that are at all different levels and hope that they retain what I'm teaching despite the stress they have on them.

These kids wouldn't be allowed in the charter school. I realize I will get an influx of comments because I said "not allowed". Of course they may get in to the schools but they will not last. Behaviors and special needs are not prominent in those schools (yes they are there but no way as high in comparison with the public schools but we can agree to disagree).

Because of all this I am so overwhelmingly saddened by the budget cuts that are continuing to happen at our schools. I am saddened by the lack of support from the community and former students of Boston Public Schools. We need to fight. I need to fight. You need to fight. Even if you are for charter schools, realize that they aren't for everyone and certain populations NEED the public schools. I am a product of both catholic and public Boston schools.

The battle is so tiring. I will fight for my kids, our kids but I need help.

Lisa Bello Jonxs, BPS Teacher