On December 15, the unelected Boston School Committee (BSC) balanced the Boston Public Schools budget on the backs of our children and their teachers by closing down over a dozen public schools. The “data” used to justify their plans were concocted by business elites, who need budget cuts in order to redirect public funds to corporate welfare, like tax breaks and subsidies.
While Mayor Menino’s government engineered a school budget shortfall of $65 million dollars, the state gave away $190 million dollars in subsidies, $44.5 million in tax credits, and over $145 million in property tax breaks to big corporations! LibertyMutual alone got $46.5 million in handouts from Menino. With so much public money given away to feather the beds of Boston’s elite, there’s little wonder they claim there’s no money for schools.
As the corporate executives behind the BSC presented their plan to privatize public schools, parents, students and teachers packed school hearings in the hundreds to voice their disgust and outrage. This was despite the media’s attempt to pit teachers against parents in order to deflect attention from the corporate interests running the show.
Instead, through the course of the fight, radicalization developed as parents and teachers began to change their slogans from “save our school” to “save our schools,” seeing that their schools was part of a larger attack on public education. In the final week before the staged “vote,” over 150 high school students in the West Roxbury neighborhood walked out of class in protest of the attack on public education.
While an angry, almost riotous, consensus emerged amongst parents, teachers and students against cuts at the staged “vote,” the BSC and the superintendent sat on the stage like vultures, their nests constructed with salaries like the superintendent’s annual pay of $329,528. Despite opposition from hundreds in the room, the “vote” was unanimous.
Despite this defeat, it is clear that this round of cuts is just the beginning. Socialist Alternative is campaigning to link up the Boston Teachers’ Union, student groups and parents to defend and improve public education. An alliance of teachers, other school workers and parents against the cuts can be instrumental in defending our public services. The recession is not of our making, so why should we balance Liberty Mutual’s books on our backs?