Taking control away from city’s voters is not the way forward
On Martin Luther King Day, a Globe editorial quoted from a speech in which King said the key to progress for Black people was the vote (“MLK’s legacy, today’s voting rights challenge”). The editorial warned against current efforts in other states to curtail voting rights. It concluded, “This is our nation’s new ‘give us the ballot’ moment.”
That same day, the Globe ran two op-eds debating whether the Boston Public Schools should be placed in receivership. One argued for essentially curtailing the voting rights of Bostonians by handing control of their public schools to state bureaucrats (“Schools need the urgency and authority of a dedicated receiver”).
The author’s reason: The Boston Public Schools face big problems.
Yes, they do. Boston schools educate students who face enormous obstacles in getting their education. Some of them do brilliantly well. Others fall far short. But state officials don’t know how to do better, and denying the voters a say in the direction of their schools is not the way forward.
In November, Boston voters endorsed the opposite strategy for improving their schools. By a 4-1 margin, they supported bringing democratic control closer to the schools by restoring an elected school committee.
This is Boston’s new “give us the ballot” moment.
The writer is a Citizens for Public Schools board member and editor of the Boston Parents Schoolyard News blog.
Point-counterpoint on receivership stirs a pointed reaction
I write in response to your paired op-eds on Jan. 17, which were devoted to the question, “Should BPS go into receivership?” For the Yes position, you selected Roger Lowenstein, a white male author and financial journalist from Cambridge. For the No argument, you asked Julia Mejia, a Latinx woman city councilor from Boston (“With the necessary resources, urban leaders and parents of color can lift up Boston’s schools”). You could not have made a more tone-deaf choice for the Yes argument. By that I mean, you selected a white man from Cambridge to serve as the so-called expert who shares his wisdom as to the appropriateness of the Boston Public Schools going into receivership.
The writer is professor of the practice emeritus of public history at Northeastern University.
Parents of means always have choices — others ought to have vouchers to explore their options
The Jan. 17 op-eds by Roger Lowenstein and Julia Mejia were interesting, but both missed the main point: If the City of Boston really wants to empower parents to address their children’s educational needs, from prekindergarten through Grade 12, it should issue education vouchers of $23,000 per child per year to families (the approximate amount the city spends per student) upon request. Let parents explore private school and public charter options that they consider the best for their children.
Lowenstein would replace one bureaucracy with another. Mejia would replace one set of heated meetings with another. Both mean well, but their approaches are unlikely to work.
Parents of means already exercise the privilege of choosing the most appropriate school for their child. Parents without such means should be given a full-tuition voucher. Equalize parental and child opportunity. Release poor children from the grip of unions and administrators. Give all children a chance at a good education.
Vouchers also are the only hope for Mayor Michelle Wu in this domain. No mayor can solve this problem with bureaucracies and unions in the way.
We can engage endlessly in worthy conversations about how to improve Boston’s public schools. Meanwhile, the lack of focused actions slams the educational doors in the faces of low-income children.