It’s not just Boston (Vote ‘no’ on Question 2 – The Boston Globe)

The article below was written by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and was printed in the Boston Globe as an argument for VOTE NO on Expanding the number of Charter Schools in MA —         C

“By Martin J. Walsh OCTOBER 18, 2016
AS A FOUNDING board member of the Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester, I’m a longtime supporter of Boston’s charter schools. Last year, as mayor, I proposed state legislation to raise the cap on charter school growth while also giving charter schools access to state building funds for the first time.

It may surprise some, then, that I am voting “no” on ballot Question 2 — and urging everyone in the Commonwealth to do the same.

My reasons are clear. Question 2 does not just raise the cap. Over time, it would radically destabilize school governance in Massachusetts — not in any planned way, but by super-sizing an already broken funding system to a scale that would have a disastrous impact on students, their schools, and the cities and towns that fund them.

This impact would hit Boston especially hard. Twenty-five percent of statewide charter school seats, and 36 percent of the seats added since 2011, are in Boston. Each year, the city sends charter schools a large and growing portion of its state education aid to fund them. This funding system is unsustainable at current levels and would be catastrophic at the scale proposed by the ballot question.
For one thing, state reimbursements to cover the district’s transitional costs have been underfunded by $48 million over the last three fiscal years, a shortfall projected to grow into the hundreds of millions if the ballot question passes.

On charter schools, a new partisan divide
With just weeks to go before voters consider a plan to expand charter schools in the state, Democrats have swung against the question in large numbers.

In addition, our charter school assessment is based on a raw per-student average that does not adequately account for differing student needs and the costs of meeting them. This system punishes Boston Public Schools for its commitments to inclusive classrooms and sheltered English immersion, as well as everything from vocational education to social and emotional learning.

If those factors don’t tilt the playing field enough, there’s a kicker. Because our charter school assessment is based largely on the district’s spending, the more high-needs students are concentrated in district schools — and the more we have to compensate for withheld reimbursements — the higher our charter payments grow. Currently, our charter school assessment is 5 percent of the city’s entire budget. Under the ballot proposal, it would grow to almost 20 percent in just over a decade. It’s a looming death spiral for our district budget, aimed squarely at the most vulnerable children in our city. It’s not just unsustainable, it’s unconscionable.

I have heard it argued that this kind of financial pressure is needed to force Boston and other districts into making long-overdue reforms. In fact, Superintendent Tommy Chang has advanced an ambitious and thoughtful change agenda. We are completing a long-term financial plan to focus our spending more effectively, efficiently, and equitably on classrooms. We are using an equity-and-data lens to make decisions about our facilities footprint and grade configurations. We are reducing transportation costs. We have increased school autonomy and modernized hiring practices, and petitioned the state for even more flexibility in these areas. Instead of accelerating reforms, the ballot proposal would undermine our planning and replace steady progress with increasingly bitter budget, facilities, and labor disputes.

My final reason for opposing Question 2 is as someone who values and cares about our charter schools. Massachusetts is rightly proud of how our charters have transcended the unremarkable performance and shocking scandals that have beset charters in many other states. That success is built on 20 years of sound growth. I know from experience how much planning it takes to launch and grow a strong charter school. Since the first schools opened, in 1995, the Commonwealth has added an average of 1,762 charter students each year. The ballot question could more than quadruple that rate, with increases concentrated in Boston and other urban districts. This reckless growth would change our charter culture and greatly increase the likelihood of school failures that hurt kids and discredit the reform movement.

The fact is, Boston has the best charter schools and the best district schools of any major city in the nation — both with long waiting lists and fiercely proud school communities. The way to continue our progress and bring it to all students is not through wholesale upheaval that pits school against school and family against family. It is through a sustainable funding system and greater collaboration.

This ballot question is not a referendum on charter schools. It is a deeply misguided proposal that is fundamentally hostile to the progress of school improvement, the financial health of municipalities, and the principle of local control. I urge everyone to join me on Nov. 8 in voting “no” on Question 2. Then we can get to work — together — to improve all our schools.

My response is:

……This is how the “elite leadership classes” classes do it today. Remember R.D. Laing? It’s a classic “knot”.

They back down by switching positions in the face of defeat — and then they claim victory. They almost deny they were ever on the other side. In fact, they seem to say that actually, there never was another side because the side they are on at the moment is always the right side. Until it isn’t…Mayor Walsh was for the Olympics, then he wasn’t. Because he never really was. He was always just for Boston.
He is for charters, but now he’s against Question 2 because it will really hurt charters, even if it claims to be pro-charter???? What’s the sense here?

I had not worried about the Mayor as a neoliberal before, he didn’t seem that astute. But he obviously has some as his advisors, at least. And the problem is, we DO need to stop this ballot question… as with the Olympics, and Trump.
But talk about reclaiming the narrative with a fast switcheroo.

This helps clarify my unease about the latest simplistic electoral shift. We can now all be against Trump (not Republicans, just Trump) because he is a misogynist.
He is. That’s true. But what about his Islamophobia? Or his white supremacy? His xenophobia? His radical capitalism? His patriotism? And “Making America Great again” is the biggest lie we are not calling him out about.
I hope he will lose.
But I fear he will lose and the only thing that will be discredited is himself, and his male crudeness. Not his real message, not his cohort of Republican obstructionist enablers.
And Hillary will triumph as the “good girl” victim….Who has stood her ground as a woman, but not as any kind of Progressive.

Oh dear

Back to (Radical) Basics: Remembering What Matters, Again

Back to (Radical) Basics: Remembering What Matters, Again

UPDATE October 16, 2016

Since February, I’ve pondered the value of this website/ blog. I’ve come to realize that its existence matters more to me than I initially thought it would. I think about what to post, worry about why I avoid posting, go from wanting people to comment to being fearful of feedback.

Mainly, I find myself waking late at night asking what I can say that won’t be obvious, too self-centered, or just confusing. Often I roll over and go back to listening to audiobooks about the Nazis, or slavery, or whatever is so big and so bad that it helps me stop obsessing about the last misinformed and mean-spirited NPR comments I heard from Trump supporter in Atlanta, or DC.

Still, I keep trying to write. I’ve edited my site, and added more people from Face Book and Linked In to a notification list. I’m telling more people about, even if it feels pushy.

Because every time I listen to the news, or read something new, my original hope of engaging with people, as I did so naturally at U.Mass.Boston, wells back up. It’s still hard now not to have everyday contact with a wider community. So much seems to be going on with this crazy election, and in this confusing world. And so much of what is happening hurts so much. It seems so wrong. I know I have to be part of doing something about it. But it’s all so hard.

Just this month, I downloaded “Now,” to my home page. It’s an amazing song written by Canadian singer/songwriter Brandy Moore, who performed it at this Spring’s North American Basic Income Congress. She also has another song “Because I’m alive” that an equally powerful call for a basic income. Her words remind me of original purpose of this website, to “remind myself not to forget what really matters.” Check her out

For me, right now, today, I want to remember five things:

1) History still matters. Getting the story straight still matters. More than ever I find myself wanting to be sure my facts are correct, my arguments are sound, that I’m not just off on another rant, no matter how justified. I have to stop worrying about sounding “boring.” I don’t get to be so contrarian any more, or say something outrageous just for effect. When Trump does his provocative routine, it’s no longer cool to laugh. I wish we could all turn our backs when he talks, shame him, be clear that he is hurting people with his words. He is cruel. Michelle Obama said it loud and clear, Trump’s words “demean us all.”

This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable. And it doesn’t matter what party you belong to ― Democrat, Republican, independent ― no woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserves this kind of abuse.

And I know it’s a campaign, but this isn’t about politics. It’s about basic human

decency. It’s about right and wrong. And we simply cannot endure this, or expose our children to this any longer ― not for another minute, and let alone for four years. Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say enough is enough. This has got to stop right now.
Because consider this: If all of this is painful to us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children? What message are our little girls hearing about who they should look like, how they should act? What lessons are they learning about their value as professionals, as human beings, about their dreams and aspirations? And how is this affecting men and boys in this country? Because I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this. And I know that my family is not unusual. And to dismiss this as everyday locker-room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere. trump_us_57ffc2b9e4b05eff5582381a

2) NOW is the time to talk about poverty — not just about the plight of the middle class, not only income inequality, not just about insecure jobs going away — but about why poverty is still tolerated, how poverty is still simply wrong, unacceptable and not subject to strategic planning.

Our governor feels “forced” to cut 420,000 state jobs, but not to demand tax

increases. People are protesting, unions are speaking out. layoffs-could-coming massachusetts/DsObNLkrZ7LEG3tbZ0XixL/amp.html?client=safari

Harvard’s William Julius Wilson just got a multi-million grant to study urban poverty in Massachusetts, yet again. People are protesting. How can someone like Wilson look at himself in the mirror and take that money for his Center and his graduate students, in part to establish his “place at the center of the current

policy discussion.” poverty-but-will-learn-anything-new/xVNaXDBC7xaP4hjRBFTegO/story.html

We all have to be focused about this, or we will be back to the newest version of neoliberal global gobble-de-gook. We don’t need to “study poverty no more”; we need to get more money directly to people so they won’t have to wait for bosses, or spouses, or gods, to provide economic security. That will take organizing, led by poor people themselves, and a meaningful Basic Income, plus other social necessities like health care for all, excellent public schools, and accessible housing, clean water and air.

3) NOW is the time to defend the public, the social contract, and to expect responsibility from “government,” with all it’s flaws. When a hurricane hits, when bridges fall down, when underfunded schools “fail”, the answer is more public funding, from more progressive taxing of ourselves. Not more private investment, not more Crowd Sourcing, or another “public-private partnership”.

Today when I hear even my friends casually complain about inadequate, poorly organized public services, or even “corrupt” politicians and public

servants, I interrupt. I say that we need those programs; we must demand that they are better, not privatize more, not give up on our few legitimate claims to give ourselves what we need. Who else can we make demands of, Wells Fargo? Wikileaks? Social Media? Where else do we still have any social rights, weak as they may seem?

4) NOW is the time to talk about what it means that the proletariat is evolving into a precariat. Guy Standing writes convincingly that the Precariat is the “New Dangerous Class,” (2012), and then goes to demand real changes in a “Precariat Charter” (2014). Especially in light of the popular shifts evidenced by Trump’s ascendance into legitimacy, the success of Brexit’s anti-immigrant logic, and the rise of a nationalist European Right, we must face the reality of a world where the existence of growing Precariat is undeniable. This emerging, disparate precariat grows out of a shrinking already poorly organized proletariat.

And that with an unprotected, fearful precariat it’s every man and woman, for themselves

It’s uncomfortable to move away from the reliable socialist premise that the self-aware proletariat, acting as a working class, is the primary engine for progressive change in history. Sure, class consciousness was never enough — there were always central complexities of race, gender and cultural dynamics at play. But it was central.

The long-clarifying mantra of “no war but the class war,” is more confusing than helpful when people still know that they “work,” but are not sure who their real bosses, not their managers, are. When they still need solidarity but aren’t sure with whom, and against whom?

More than ever, we need a broad-based, movement that allows folks to ponder such things. It must be Left and feminist, Earth-informed, multi-cultural and queer. Of course, people of color and people with deep-in-their-bones awareness of racism, poverty, and social disregard must lead it.

5) Naming what’s really “wrong” really matters — even it rings bad old bells from “Moral Majority,” religionist days. Even if it seems simplistic, or claiming a righteousness that is unknowable, we have to step up. Reverend Barber says, today’s “big issues are not about Left vs. Right, but right vs. Wrong.” Our movement has to be willing to say, loudly, the today’s world hurts too much, too unnecessarily. It’s just wrong and we know it even if we are unclear about what’s right, or even all the reasons why what’s wrong is wrong. We can’t take it any more. We have to do something. Together….

Whew…another sermon, if not a rant, after all. But I could not stop. Please comment, argue back, engage. I feel so alone.