BOSTON (CBS) – Students, parents and educators from several schools in and around Boston held “walk-ins” before school on Wednesday to protest budget cuts and the allocation of money to charter schools.
Demonstrators rallied outside schools before classes began, holding signs and chanting.
Leading up to the protest, organizers claimed that charter schools will “siphon off $119,405,100 in funds that would otherwise stay in the Boston Public Schools, and be used to improve learning for all students.”
“We won’t get music or art. Little by little we’ll start seeing a change in our curriculum and I feel like our kids will get cheated. And it’s all about the kids,” teacher Elaine Mascall told WBZ-TV.
In a statement, Boston Public Schools said it was monitoring the protests.
The Boston Public Schools appreciates the passion students, parents, guardians, and other community-based advocates have for education and their interest in making their voices heard. While BPS encourages respectful activism and advocacy, we will closely monitor these events to ensure student safety and a prompt start time for morning classes and valuable instruction. We support meaningful discussions on the BPS budget process and would like for members of our community to continue engaging with us on these matters.
WBZ-TV’s Anna Meiler reported that students and teachers from 50 Boston schools and 80 cities total participated in the walk-ins.
“The only thing that’s predictable is that the cuts will come every year. And that’s not any way to run a school system,” Boston Teachers Union President Richard Stutman said during the protest.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker proposed a bill that would allow the state to add up to 12 new or expanded charter schools each year.
A spokesman for Great Schools Massachusetts, a group that supports lifting the cap on public charter schools in Massachusetts, says special interest groups are attempting to blame charter schools for funding issues.
Today’s protest is part of an effort organized by national and local teachers unions, not parents and students. It’s unfortunate that these special interests are trying to blame charter schools for school funding shortfalls, which is simply untrue. Most importantly, every parent deserves the right to choose the best public school in their community – including a public charter school – which is why 34,000 children are on waiting lists for public charter schools statewide.
In March, thousands of Boston students walked out of class and marched to the State House to protest proposed budget cuts.
Less than a week later, Mayor Marty Walsh announced that officials found a way to avoid reductions at the city’s high schools.
“This is unfair and we need to work on keeping the cap so we have the funding we need for Boston Public Schools,” said Boston City Council member Tito Jackson.