CPS Conference Brought Old and New Friends to the Fight

CPS President Paula Parnagian acknowledged the diversity of conference goers: old and new members from across the state of Massachusetts.

Thanks to all who worked so hard to make the 2011 CPS Fall Issues Conference a success. And thanks to all our old and our many new friends who joined us for a high-energy, productive day of sharing ideas for action to protect and improve our public schools.

Watch for a detailed report in the next edition of the CPS Backpack Newsletter. For now, here are a few highlights from the morning panel of speakers.

From BTU President Richard Stutman’s welcome: “Thankfully, there is a Side One, good caring people who don’t want to turn over schools to the Bill Gates and Paul Grogans of the world. Our job to turn things around, educate people, the legislature about corporate influence. To do this we draw on our great assets: teachers, parents, and students working to keep alive public education for all.”

From Past CPS President Ruth Rodriguez’s opening comments: “Mr. President, we come today with determination to let you know that we will not sit idly while poor White, Native American, Black and Latino students continue to receive an unequal education that is leaving the majority behind. The education apartheid in our public schools system must be addressed by you and immediately eradicated. The mandates and conditions forced by you to entice school districts into accepting federal monies under RTTT only serve to increase the pervasive actions by many districts for more test prepping and in extreme cases for cheating by administrators fearful of losing the funding, and/or of having their school closed by the state (You need only to look at what is happening in Atlanta and many other cities).”

The conference united parents, teachers, students and others to discuss challenges like Stand for Children's dangerous ballot question and how to defeat it.

From City Councilor Charles Yancey’s comments on morning panel: “For 15 years, I have advocated building at least one new high school in Boston. More than 50 have been constructed around Massachusetts since we last built one in Boston, in 1979. People say, ‘How can you spend all that money with the fiscal crisis?’…The one department in Boston singled out for dramatic cuts is the Boston School Department…We’re going in the wrong direction. It’s never reported in the Globe or the Herald because they’re thrilled with the direction…We have a lot of work to do. If we do not mount an aggressive and effective campaign to protect public education, if we are seduced by charters, if we fail, my grandchildren, and their children will be faced with prospect of a lottery for basic survival in this nation.”

From the Coalition for Equal Quality Education’s (CEQE) Sandra McIntosh’s comments: “CEQE wants to document what happens to the promises made to families of 18 closed schools [in Boston]. We have it on tape. They said they’re going to send your child to better, higher performing schools with resources. We want to see if promises are kept. In the heat of passion, promises are made, but they are not always kept. …What’s wrong with NCLB? As the president said, ‘Forcing our teachers, our principals and our schools to accomplish all of this without the resources they need is wrong.'”