The recent proposed budget cuts in the Boston Public Schools, and the subsequent articles and interviews that followed only underscore what a disservice we, as a city, are doing to our children. Mayor Martin Walsh has indicated that the school department has a bloated budget. The school department, he reasoned, needs to become more efficient. The school department, in response, sent a budget to schools that was significantly less than their operating costs. The schools, with no other choice, cut teacher positions from their budgets. Teachers, students, and parents are now protesting these cuts.
Walsh and Superintendent Tommy Chang are playing a political game with each other, and the collateral damage is our students and teachers. Whether or not they end up restoring the money is almost irrelevant to the damage they’ve done: the district now feels unstable and the public is losing trust in both the district and City leadership. More and more parents, businessmen, and average citizens will likely turn to charters and other more “trustworthy” institutions to educate our students.
If the school budget is bloated, Walsh and Chang need to find areas to cut that do not impact the number of teacher positions. If Walsh and Chang want to reduce teacher salaries, then they need to say so. The City agreed to the current contract, and if the City has changed its mind, then it’s time to own up to this new thinking and negotiate accordingly. If Walsh has decided he wants to close district schools and open more charter schools, which seems likely given his recent comment about consolidating high schools, and the recent state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education decision opening the door for two charter schools in Boston, then he should let us into his master plan for our schools.
What we need in this budget season is not more teachers and students working overtime trying to advocate that they matter enough to have a school with sufficient funds to operate. We need a mayor to come forward and be honest about his agenda.
Jamaica Plain resident