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Citizens For Public Schools Releases Report on Twenty Years of Ed Reform…& How The Indignant Teacher Hopes to Influence Boston’s Mayoral Candidates With It

July 20, 2013

Citizens for Public Schools is an organization that identifies itself as “a 31-year-old organization dedicated to improving education for Massachusetts children“. They should also include “…& for Massachusetts teachers” in that introduction, because, especially within the past decade, CPS has undoubtedly become the voice of the public schoolteachers, most notably on Capitol Hill. They are the people who stand before our politicians and policymakers and tell them the very words we (teachers) want them to hear. They argue for us, they fight for what we need…and deserve. And by doing so, they’re acting in ways that also serve to support the children we teach, and the schools we are in. 

Last month CPS gave Massachusetts educators, students, parents, and schools the key to achieving real progress in turning around the educational system in the state – the potential “Holy Grail” in Massachusetts Public Education – the Massachusetts Pubic School Handbook, complete with the “How-To Fix-It Section”. Actually it’s called a report, and CPS entitled it Twenty Years After Education Reform: Choosing a Path Forward To Equity and Excellence For All”.

It’s a report that’s well worth the reading, even if you don’t live in Massachusetts. It’s a report whose findings would likely be comparable anywhere across the nation where high-stakes can be found. It sets the bar for valid, reliable, worthy, trusted, fair, honest, and thorough examinations of data and accurate analysis of results. It is exactly what we need as the impetus to finally take actual steps at closing the achievement gap here in Massachusetts, and hopefully by example it could also ultimately be the impetus for positive change across the nation.

I wish I felt more positive in saying that. But I say “could” and “hopefully” because, to be honest, I’m doubtful. I’m doubtful because my efforts to “help” with this fight against Ed Reform have shown me just how unjust things really are. It’s shown me how there really are people who are so selfish that they have become completely unable to even process, apparently, any words maintaing the contrary. And unfortunately this notion has become even more ingrained in me because of my own personal life’s other circumstances that are all just happening to coincide with my own Ed Reform Efforts as of late. Some of these are a result of those efforts (like my unemployment battle which i have yet to blog about, though intend to), and some are totally unrelated, but the point is, my last number of months – actually my year 2013 so far – has made me jaded. 

And every single turn Ed Reform has taken since it’s very inception has been the result of some sort of deceit or corruption or lying or cheating or bribery scandal, and never for the Common Good – in particular, the good of America’s children as part of It’s Institution of Public Education. Every decision that’s been made has been harmful; every action that’s been taken has been for the good of the very few at the Top, and for the harm of those of us in the trenches – the teachers and students. 

Only since my resignation in April have I come to know exactly how unfair this whole thing is, and has become. Only since then have I really come to know exactly how loudly people have been crying out for the legislatures and policymakers and voters to listen. And how deaf those two groups really insist on being. No matter what, it seems.

And so today I can’t say this CPS Report will be given the attention it deserves, and certainly not by the people need to pay it most attention. And no, I really don’t think it will wind up being the impetus of anything at all, much less of the wheel finally turning in the Public Schools of Massachusetts. But that’s not going to stop me from doing what I can to spread it’s message as best I can.

One way I hope to do that is within Boston’s current Race for Mayor. These meetings with each candidate begin this coming week, and the CPS Report will serve as an invaluable resource and offer a real solid foundation on which to base a conversation, and hopefully proffer evidence to persuade. On top of that, The Network for Public Education was kind enough to share with me their candidacy questions, which of course can all be seamlessly tied into the Report, and will provide a common structure for reporting the details of each meeting. So basically the hard work is done….please stay tuned for the results.

First on the list this coming week is Rob Consalvo, my friend, and Boston City Councilor-District 5 since 2002. Rob is one of two candidates (& front-running candidates, at that) with whom I have personal ties that would likely cloud my judgement enough to safely say that my vote would be cast with one of them more out of a sense of personal responsibility somehow than in the civic sense, really. Maybe because I know them on a personal basis first, and the political basis is second, but the point is, initially I felt some sort of sense of duty to them both, and I wasn’t sure how I’d choose between them. 

I decided I would email both of them and explain my quandary and learn as much as I could about their respective stances on all things education.  I would make my decision based upon whoever gave the answers that were the ones I’d consider “right”. Because in real life, someone with my level of education, training, experience, and professional qualifications add up to an “expert” in her field. Meaning she would “know” the “right” answers. I am an “expert” by right, regardless whether anyone tries to challenge that. I welcome the opportunity for any fair and reliable test to prove myself as such; any good teacher would.

Bring it on, Michelle Rhee – I could out-teach you in a minute. Except you’d probably cheat. And somehow still convince rich men to fund your lifestyle. That’s one of life’s great injustices, but I’d rather keep my morals where they’re respectable then have to lie in bed at night with your conscience. Or whoever’s bed you have to lie in to keep padding that pocketbook even after you’re indisputably proven a fraud who knows nothing about what children need in and out of school.

I said I’ve become jaded. I’ll say whatever I think, and if it’s controversial enough to get myself the attention of Matt Damon, who jumps further into the fight by making a movie, “Superman’s Not Real – It’s Time We Stop Waiting”, then maybe my message can be heard a little better by those who can make a difference.

Of course, that’s nothing but a silly little fantasy, although as I approach 40 this year I’ve often reflected back on my 30s and recognized that, as difficult as the decade was, it really had all the makings of a Lifetime Nighttime Movie. Or a Danielle Steele best-seller. 

Who knows, maybe someday when life settles down for me some I’ll put pen to paper myself. In the meantime, I’ll concentrate on things that I can do, like be the opposing force against this group who wasted no time, Boston:Forward, an aggressive organization funded by “Foundations”, of course, to ensure that every mayoral candidate hears their message and whoever goes into Office goes with them as an integral force in Reforming the Boston Schools.

This is especially discerning because, not only is the City awaiting appointment of the next Mayor since before the Ed Reform Act was signed into law in 1993, but in doing so we are also awaiting appointment of the next Superintendent of Schools in Boston. Clearly it is the most critical time for the fate of the Boston Public Schools, and it will all ultimately come down to the decisions of what two people are sitting in new seats at City Hall in just a few months. 

I will continue to do what I can to ensure those people take Office knowing what steps need to be taken, and I will do that with the CPS Report. I only hope that whoever gets elected does so having taken it to heart. And I hope my readership of 30 is kind enough to spread the word of it and it’s findings to all their Massachusetts friends.

Money can only talk so loud. Right?

 

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