BEJA Town Hall Presentations and Upcoming Action Steps!

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Thanks to all who came to last Thursday's Emergency Town Hall on the Future of Public Schools in Boston! Over 350 parents, teachers and students packed a standing-room only Cardinal Hall at Madison Park High School sending a clear message- our voices matter!

At the request of several attendees and folks who couldn't make it, we'd like to share the presentations from panelists. We will also be updating the website with our Action Groups' next steps and notes as we compile them in the coming week.

  • Daphne Penn, presented on behalf of the Union of Minority Neighborhoods, telling the story of school assignment in Boston, beginning with desegregation in 1970s and continuing until today. Interestingly, the city has invested much of its time in assingment processes rather than assuring equity and fully funded and suported schools. Check out the presentation here. 

  • Megan Wolf, a BPS parent and member of the parent group Quality for Every Student (QUEST) shared how the Boston Compact first started in Boston as part of a nationwide "Charter-District" compacts funded by the pro-charter Gates Foundation. She explains further the Universal Enrollment initiative the Compact is now pushing in Boston, one that has been implemented in other Compact cities with disasterous funding and equity consequences for district schools. See the full presentation here. 

  • Heshan Berents-Weeramuni, a BPS parent and co-chair of the City-Wide parent council shared a great overview of the current state of BPS' budget, its real impact for students and teachers and the structural issues underlying its underfunding year-to-year at the state and local levels! You can find the full presentation here. 

  • Jahi Spalos, a BPS student and youth organizer with the Boston Youth Organizing Project (BYOP) and the Youth Organizers United for the Now Generation (YOUNG) shared his experiences as a student in the system currently. Sharing his and peers' experiences with stress, budget cuts, high stakes testing and unjust disciplinary practices, his story showed the real-life impact of our school system on students. Jahi didn't have a powerpoint to present, but his powerful story moved attendees all the same.  

Thanks again to all who attended! The following are pressing next steps in the coming weeks! Please stay in touch with updates and action steps by texting BEJA to 69238 or signing up for our newsletter through our homepage. You can also keep connected and share information easily through liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter

Upcoming Meetings/Action Steps: 

  • Protest Action against BPS $50 million budget cuts before Mayor Walsh’s State of the City Address. TUESDAY, JANUARY 19th, 4:30PM @ Symphony Hall, 2 Westland Avenue in Boston.

  • Next BostonOPEN meeting (Opposing Privatization of Education Now) : 2/1 @ 6:30 PM @ Doyle’s Cafe in JP.  Boston OPEN is a group of parents and community members organizing against the Boston Compact and efforts to push unified enrollment that threatens to destabilize schools. 

  • Make your voice heard about Enroll Boston/Unified Enrollment!  Contact Mayor Walsh, your City Councilor and Superintendent Chang.  Write letters to the Globe and local newspapers. 

  • BEJA Meeting- Thursday, Jan 28th, 6-7:30PM- (Academy Estates community room, 2908 Washington St, Roxbury 02120). Join us as we regroup and plan next steps in our fight for equitable school funding and against high stakes testing. Youth organizers will be there to share what they've been working around testing and school-to-prison pipeline issues. 

  • School Committee meeting, Wednesday, Feb 3rd, 6-8PM, BPS Bolling Building (2300 Washington)-  The superintendent will present the BPS budget at this meeting for review, including all proposed cuts. We highly encourage parents, students and teachers to come testify on how these cuts will affect them and their commnunities.