Bostonians deserve right to vote for representation
Re “Should Boston go back to an elected school committee?” (Editorial, Aug. 28): On Nov. 1, 1989, the editorial board of the Globe urged voters to reject the ballot referendum to abolish the elected Boston School Committee. The board wrote, “It is troubling that as the black community edges toward political power, the now-dominant Irish, in alliance with business interests, would try to brake that progress by withdrawing the right to vote for School Committee members.”
The Boston Globe had a better grip on reality — and democracy — back then.
The Black community had been organizing for decades to break into Boston’s political power structure. At the time, Jack E. Robinson, former president of the NAACP’s Boston branch, said, “With blacks and minorities fighting and dying all over the world for this precious right, Boston’s blacks are being sold a bill of goods. [The] quest and possession of freedom to vote transcends all options of expediency.”
At its core, the nonbinding referendum to restore an elected school committee is about correcting what was taken away: Bostonians’ right to vote for representation. The only people who view the “squabble” over school governance as “an unfortunate distraction” are those who benefit from the status quo in which powerless stakeholders have no say over their own educational destiny.
Boston Coalition for Education Equity
The writer was one of the organizers of the nonbinding advisory question and among the signers of the petition to have it added to the November ballot.
Bid for an elected panel is more than a ‘squabble’
It’s a bad look for a newspaper whose readership is made up largely of wealthy suburbanites to characterize as a “squabble” the desire of Boston parents, many of whom live at or below the poverty line, to elect their school committee. Since the Globe’s editorial board deems an appointed school committee to be superior to the messy “distraction” of a debate over the committee’s composition, I look forward to the many subsequent editorials urging the disenfranchisement of the parents in Weston, Wellesley, and Lexington, whose school committees are elected panels. Surely this esteemed newspaper wouldn’t advocate that some families are more entitled and better able to choose their school committee representatives than are other families, would it?
Michael J. Maguire
The writer is the Boston Teachers Union representative on the nominating panel for the Boston School Committee. The ideas expressed here are his own.
Do you really think city’s mayors have been held accountable?
Your editorial’s claim that Boston’s appointed school committee renders the mayor accountable runs counter to fact.
The 1991 switch from an elected board coincided with the beginning of the city’s shift from a majority white population. That change is much more striking within the Boston Public Schools, at 85 percent students of color and 63 percent economically disadvantaged. Multiple mayors felt safe to ignore this constituency, in part due to Boston’s staggering racial wealth gap.
Over decades of mayoral control, the city neglected to maintain facilities for these students, leading to the abrupt closure of school buildings. Many schools have had high levels of lead in their water. The number of “intensely segregated” schools has increased, creating a district of separate and unequally resourced schools.
Despite total control of appointments and budgets, no mayor has faced accountability for these conditions.
As students and families lost agency within the BPS, wealthy philanthropic organizations have taken their place and used Boston as a playground for unproven educational experimentation. It’s time for us stakeholders to have a say in our school system again, using the best tool at our disposal: democracy.