I've been doing a good bit of thinking since the Monday/Tuesday whirlwind Board of Ed meetings, which were the first in which the consequences of last November's election came home to the Board of Ed. Where Governor Baker is on public education hasn't been a mystery, and he'd certainly made that clear in his inaugural address. That was followed, of course, by his choices of Secretary of Education and Board Chair. This was the first meeting at which both men were present and participating.
I'd say the most telling moment of the meeting was when we pivoted from a long section castigating Holyoke--a district which is 78.8% Latino and 47.7% of students do not speak English as their first language--to a section praising Mystic Valley Charter--a school which serves cities with significant ELL populations, which somehow has not a single ELL student. Secretary Peyser made a motion, supported by Board Chair Sagan, that Mystic Valley be granted their enrollment expansion, despite their board not having the training that they are required to have under Mass General Law and have been told repeatedly they need to have, and despite their having this mysterious lack of ELL students. In other words, they could simply be trusted to fix their violation of rules and regulations, despite a clear history of their not having done so.
Sagan opened the meeting with his own sort of statement of principles, in which his and his family's history with MATCH Charter figured largely. To hear him state that his own top priority is the child for a school whose attrition rate looks like this:
...is to doubt how much the individual child actually matters. Where did the 17 kids go between freshman and sophomore years? Or the 10 kids between sophomore and junior years?
I'll bet that most went to the Boston Public Schools. Because they, like all district public schools, take everybody.
Every kid. Every day.
Public education isn't about how high you can manipulate your MCAS scores or your graduation rate. By Constitutional mandate, public education is in the "different parts of the country and the various orders of the peoples." All of the country. All of the people.
Not just the ones whose parents can show up to sign them up or the ones who do well on MCAS.
Every kid. Every day.
All means all.