The Unify Boston campaign, led by Families for Excellent Schools, has organized parent and community activists to collect more than 10,000 signatures in support of creating quality schools for all Boston children.
The signatures, the organization hopes, will encourage state and local officials to give the children of Boston access to an excellent education in their own neighborhoods, writes Tony Schinella of the West Roxbury Patch.
“Thousands of families and individuals across Boston have stated loudly and clearly that all of our kids deserve to attend an excellent school,” said Sheyla Negron, lead parent organizer with Families for Excellent Schools Massachusetts.
Those who signed the Unify Boston petition and thousands of others have become involved with the campaign via social media, knocking on doors, visiting business owners, canvassing, and joining together at neighborhood meetings.
The petition, written in several languages, includes three central principles: every child should have an excellent public school, whether it is a district or charter school; every child in Boston should succeed, particularly those who are English as a second language students or children with special needs; and that teachers should mirror the diversity of the neighborhoods they serve.
Last November, 2,000 Boston parents, teachers, and students gathered at Faneuil Hall to represent the 77,000 children across the state who attend schools that are failing. In these schools, two out of three kids cannot read or work at grade level in math.
The movement is making in-roads into Boston education leadership. Some Boston parents are disturbed over the newly appointed chief of staff to Boston’s superintendent. Makeeba McCreary is set to begin work on July 1 as part of a 10-person leadership team for incoming Superintendent Tommy Chang. The Boston Globe’s Jeremy C. Fox reports an online petition has appeared calling for a reversal of McCreary’s appointment because of her association with Families for Excellent Schools.
McCreary has also worked for the Boston Foundation and Wheelock College. Not only is McCreary feeling the heat, but there are some parents who have expressed concern about Chang’s six year term as a charter school principal.
At the end of last week, the petition had attracted over 160 signatures. One was Karen Kast-McBride, a mother of two Boston Public Schools students and an education activist.
“If we have more people in our public school system that are tied into lobbying and fighting for charter schools, then we have a problem,” Kast-McBride said, “because that means they are going to be looking for ways to give more resources to those schools . . . than to our actual public schools, which need everything that we can give them right now.”
McCreary, who is currently executive director of the company she founded in 2009, the AbekaM Consulting Foundation, clarified that she did work as a consultant for Families for Excellent Schools but was never an employee. Her job was to assist the group in engaging in a positive way with Boston and Boston Public Schools. Mayor Martin J. Walsh is confident, according to an interview, that Chang and McCreary will have as their priority the district’s students.
Sheyla Negron, in The Bay State Banner, wrote her support of the Families for Excellent Schools Massachusetts and the Unify Boston campaign. She said that parent and community voices have been ignored for years by politicians and advocates who debate, with little result, what is best for the kids of Boston. She quoted a mom from Roxbury, Josette Williams:
“Parents need to get organized because it’s what our children deserve. If we act in unison it sends an even more powerful message to our politicians that the crisis is global and impacts us all.”
Negron requests the help of the citizens of Boston because “all students deserve a world-class education, regardless of their background, race, income, language or learning levels.”