Boston Public School parents rally at State House for more federal money
Amber Bennoui’s parents gave her permission to take off from school on Thursday afternoon so she could protest the lack of federal stimulus money coming to Boston Public Schools.
Outside of the State House, the 18-year-old Roslindale resident held signs with two of her peers.
“I personally felt very offended that federal stimulus money didn’t come to the Boston Public Schools. … I don’t know the reasoning behind the governor’s thoughts of not giving money to schools that are especially struggling.”
Roslindale mother Carole Carter, who operates the a parent-run BPS Web site at www.bpsparents.org, spoke about why she came to the State House. “How do we prepare our children for the future if we can’t get them through the present?”
Inside the State House, in front of the grand staircase, hundreds of parents gathered with signs imploring legislators to give more federal money to the Boston Public School system. They also wore stickers attached to their clothing that stated who represented them in the state’s Legislature. Some parents held up signs of where their children attend school.
Many of Boston’s state legislators came to the rally that could be heard throughout the capitol. Several speakers commented it was too bad that Gov. Deval Patrick wasn’t in the building, for if he were he would’ve heard the complaints directed at him.
The rally comes on the heels of Wednesday night’s School Committee meeting that saw the committee approve a school budget that cuts more than 500 school employees, including more than 100 teachers and 50 paraprofessionals.
“What scares me is that our schools are a seed of education and most schools are our biggest commodity,” said Roslindale parent Kenneth Terry. “Are we going to start importing students to be educated here? I know it’s a global economy. …”
West Roxbury parent Janey Bishoff, who has one student at the Boston Latin School, was on hand too, “The bigger issue is that BPS schools are under-funded. … Our state officials need to know they’re under-funded. … I think the biggest issue is that the distribution of stimulus money is not equitable. It’s based on an old formula. Clearly Boston Public Schools are some of the most under-funded.”
In front of the grand staircase Mayor Thomas Menino spoke and was followed by several city councilors including John Connolly, Sam Yoon, Sal LaMattina and John Tobin. City Councilors Rob Consalvo and Stephen Murphy were also on hand, as was state Rep. Mike Rush. State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez was also present. State Sen. Marian Walsh was “out in the district,” said one of her legislative aides. It is not known whether state Reps Angelo Scaccia or Willie Mae Allen were present or in the building.
For the rallied parents they were happy to see their legislators present because the whole point of the rally was to get their leaders attention to funnel more federal funding to the BPS.
According to the executive office of education, Boston is receiving $10.2 million in additional district funding for special education and $398,000 in pre-school special education funding as a part of the stimulus bill.
But parents and legislators are both still worried about the looming cuts.
“Can you imagine cutting language programs at Boston Latin?” said Councilor LaMattina of East Boston.
“Your elected officials stand with you!” said a fist-pounding and emotional Connolly. “This is real. This isn’t just some rally!”
After the politicians spoke, several parents got up to speak to the masses, as did Superintendent Carol Johnson.
After the rally, parents split into groups dependent upon who represented them in the Legislature, and they went up to their offices to lobby the legislators more. A group of more than 60 Parkway residents made their way to Rush’s office, who had been present for most of the rally, if not all of it.
Rush organized the group to meet in the Great Hall of Flags and he fielded questions from concerned parents. He took down their emails and phone numbers to stay in contact with them as much as possible.