Students Say the Darndest Things

From the impact of school closures to the perils of an all-charter system, Boston students seem to know a lot more than the adult interests…  

WestieIt’s sad when adult interests decide to close schools 🙁 Which is why I took it upon myself to be the bearer of great news to the students protesting at last week’s School Committee meeting. So your old schools are going out of business. Lots of shiny high-performing seats are headed your way! And even greater, those high-performing seats turn out to be even higher performing than we thought. But there was a rub. These students turned out to be, well, educated on the topics at hand. From the impact of school closures to the perils of an all-charter school system, the students seemed to know a whole lot more than, say, this guy. What do you say we listen to them?

Glorya Wornum, 12th grade, Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, Boston Student Advisory Council
I don’t think we should have all charter schools, because if we have all charters and you have a group of kids who are being left out—like ELL students or students with IEPs—they’re not going to be educated in the way that they need to be. So if we have all charter schools, you’re going to end up with a group or population of just uneducated children, and that’s terrible.

Savina Tapia, 11th grade, Boston Latin Academy
I went to a charter school, Roxbury Prep, and I was basically forced out because I didn’t fit. The school was like prison. Dead silence in the hallways—zombie, uniform, robotic. It wasn’t a high-quality learning environment. It was just work, work, work and stress. A lot of the kids in our class didn’t end up graduating. If you really think charter schools are working, look at how many kids drop out or transfer. 

SOSVanessa Villanueva, 10th grade, Madison Park High School
If education is so important in Boston, what is the point of closing the schools? Making them into charter schools is just going to make people want to drop out. My cousin goes to a charter school now and she doesn’t want to be in high school because they’re too strict. They kick out everybody. I hear people at my school say that *if this becomes a charter school, I’m dropping out.* That’s just not something that should happen.

Leanne Allen, 9th grade, West Roxbury Academy
Students matter. We’re the future. And if you just kick us to the curb you’re telling future generations that when something gets tough you just get rid of it.

youthprisonerIan McSorley, 11th grade, Boston Green Academy
Dorchester High has been practically abandoned for decades. It’s been a cesspool of failure since the 80’s, and because of that no one wanted to put money into it. And look what happens: less funding equals less quality education. If you don’t put enough money into a school, of course the test results are going to be lower, of course you’re going to have dropouts. If people actually put investments and time into the public schools they wouldn’t need to be made into charter schools. I’m very anti charter school because I don’t like the way charter schools treat children. They don’t treat us with respect as human beings. They treat us like little baby cattle. They expect us to abide by their rules, and because they’re a charter school they get to set up their own rules.

I’m very anti charter school because I don’t like the way charter schools treat children. They don’t treat us with respect as human beings. They treat us like little baby cattle. They expect us to abide by their rules, and because they’re a charter school they get to set up their own rules.

Deross Jordan, 12th grade, Dorchester Academy
Public schools are working. Having charter schools means a privately run educational system that teaches kids only to pass tests, not to be part of society.  I went to the Boston Renaissance Charter School from K-4th grade. Traditional public schools are a friendlier environment; I feel like I learn easier in a public school. I wasn’t being taken care of in the charter school.

BustedJahi Spaloss, 11th grade, Boston Green Academy
Test scores shouldn’t determine where students go in life. If I get a low score on the MCAS, that shouldn’t say *oh—you’re not going anwhere.* But that’s what BPS is telling these kids: if you don’t get a good score on these tests, you’re not going to go anywhere in life. We shouldn’t see the solution as making every school a charter school. We should be trying to figure out why there is a problem and working to fix it. What’s going to be next after the charter schools fail? Are you just going to keep closing schools, over and over? It’s a never ending cycle. Meanwhile the school to prison pipeline gets longer and longer as kids have the mindset *I’m failing. What’s the point of life?* All kids see is people giving up on them and schools getting shut down

gradsKalise Osula, 12th grade, Boston Community Leadership Academy
The more schools BPS closes, the fewer students graduate because as students get shifted from high school to high school, students who are already having trouble end up dropping out. And as you close schools you end up over-populating other schools. I don’t believe that charter schools are better than public schools. They both offer different things for different students. Some students work better in public schools, some work better in charter schools. To speak to charter schools, why is it that companies like Walmart can go in and basically run a school? Since when does Walmart know anything about what it means to educate children?

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  1. This is great.

    Students are never asked what they think because the neoliberal/charter elites see them as test scores to make their charters look good and as pawns in their vicious attempt to destroy public education.

    1. I had a great day today viciously attempting to destroy public education and man it felt good. I got to school late since my two year old spawn was home sick with a fever and a cold. Once, I got to school my 7th grade test scores performed well when deriving the sphere surface area formula using oranges and orange peels. One of my test scores was disruptive in class and had to leave class. When we debriefed the consequence later, I told him he wasn’t a bad test score, just had made some bad test score choices. One of my test scores, who was clearly creamed from the public schools, can’t remember how many minutes elapse between 1:45 pm and 2:00pm. I met with the special educator (who doesn’t need to exist in schools like mine since there are no special needs test scores) to discuss strategies. In the afternoon, I hired one of my old test scores to work with me after school tutoring math with our middle school test scores. Gosh, I gutted the traditional public schools today!

  2. I would be curious to know if you attempted to interview any charter school students for this article.

    1. In addition to the students quoted who formerly attended charters, two of the students interviewed attend what we call an in-district charter school. While the bulk of the students in attendance were from the schools slated for closure I didn’t attempt to vet the students I interviewed in any way. Nor did I have any idea when I started talking to them whether they’d ever attended a charter school. I did arrange to conduct longer interviews in the future with two of the students and plan to work with them to set up conversations with additional students who attend charters. Thanks for reading!

  3. One thing I learned from working with Boston kids for 36 years is that most of them are straight up awesome. Thanks for publicizing a side of them far too many adults are (purposefully?) ignorant of – including the school dep’t.

  4. I once received a note from one of my seventh graders that said, “Thank you for giving detentions so we can learn”. She was tired of noisy, frequently-disrupted classes which are quite common at many public middle schools. Many of my colleagues balk at giving detentions for kids’ out-of-turn talking and goofing off. I don’t. Edshyster, I encourage you to ask kids about the noise and disruption level of their classes. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them are quite frank with you and say things like, “Yeah, we talk too much” or “There are few kids in each class who mess up the class everyday so we can’t learn much. The teacher sends them to the office, but they always get sent right back.” Let us not demonize kids, but let’s not sanctify them either. There is a streak of modern Western Civilization that sanctifies any human under the age of 0, and another that sanctifies any human under 18. For those who lose their religion, there is often a quest to find a substitute. For some of us, under-18-child-worship has become that substitute. Those who point out the unholy side of kids are attacked with the fury reserved for heretics.

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