We have an easy request today – kick back after a long day and watch Coalition members Tanisha Sullivan, President of the NAACP’s Boston Branch, and Kristin Johnson from JP Progressives Steering Committee talk with BNN’s Joe Heisler about the mission of the Boston Coalition of Education Equity and Budget Equity Week.
Talk of the Neighborhoods airs live on Comcast 9, RCN 15, or Verizon 1961 at 7:00pm. The show also streams on bnnmedia.org and will be archived on BNN’s website.
We delivered the following testimony at Boston School Committee last night along with the 44 responses we have received so far from our survey. As we read our testimony, hundreds of teachers, parents, and students rallied for fully funded schools all around the Bolling Building. Change is in the air – can you feel it? Join us!
Good evening Chairman Loconto, Superintendent Perille and Members of the Boston School Committee,
I’m here tonight on behalf of the newly formed Boston Coalition for Education Equity. Our membership includes the Boston Branch of the NAACP, Lawyers for Civil Rights, QUEST, BEJA, Boston Network for Black Student Achievement, Citizens for Public Schools, Downtown Progressives, JP Progressives, Progressive West Roxbury/Roslindale, Healthy Food for Boston Schools Action Network, and SURJ, with more organizations joining us every day. We share a unified goal of dismantling systemic educational inequity in Boston.
We have spent this week listening to families dream bigger for their children by asking your stakeholders this simple question: “What are the elements of a quality education?” The responses have been overwhelming – with more than 40 contributions online and dozens in person at a forum last night – diverse voices from all over the city are singing the same refrain: our children deserve so much more.
Our survey respondents did not ask for STEM labs, or international field trips, or tablets or other expensive technology. Their requests were incredibly modest: nurses, libraries with librarians, reading and math specialists, inclusion support, art and music, safe outdoor spaces, clean restrooms, healthy food, family engagement, counselors of all varieties, a school secretary, bus monitors.
Why do our families need to ask for basic educational components that are available to nearly every suburban district that borders our city? We demand a solution and an answer to the question: what is going wrong? Has weighted student funding delivered on its promise of providing equity, or has it built the educational futures of 56,000 children on a foundation made of quicksand?
We call on you to change the way you build school budgets. Begin by deciding on the components of the quality education that BPS will provide every student. Give each school the funds it needs to provide that education. Then include extra money for children who face extra challenges, the justification for weighted student funding. But guarantee that every student receives the core components of a quality education.
We understand the financial constraints due to the declining state aid to BPS and encourage everyone in this room to join us at the State House on Friday March 22nd to support the Promise Act. But even if we increase revenue to BPS, the instability and volatility will persist if we don’t first define our priorities, and then align the structure of the budget with these priorities.
We must act now because Boston’s children cannot continue to wait for a moment when it’s politically convenient to address this prime driver of the equity crisis in our schools.