A trio of Boston city councilors on Tuesday asked state education officials to hold off on a new partnership with their city's school district to improve underperforming schools, saying students, educators and families need to focus on adapting to the new realities of the COVID-19 crisis.
Council President Kim Janey and Councilors Annissa Essaibi-George and Lydia Edwards called in to the Board of Secondary Elementary Education's remote meeting and asked for a pause on a recently announced agreement between the Boston schools and the state education department that calls for the city to make improvements at its 33 lowest performing schools, including increased support for students with disabilities and improved transportation options.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced the three-year memorandum of understanding on March 13, the same day Mayor Martin Walsh and Superintendent Brenda Cassellius announced the Boston schools would close for more than a month to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
"Right now, this is not the time for an MOU," Edwards said. "It's almost offensive that that would be the focus at all in terms of making sure that our kids are somewhat being educated. If you truly are concerned about that, then please allow for this virus to get through, allow us to assess where we are after that, and then we can talk about issues that we are not unfamiliar with."
"We know that there needs to be work done, and after years of being underfunded by the state, for the state to come in with a sense of urgency that is false and unnecessary is insulting to a lot of my constituents. I also want to note that it does smack of racism, it smacks of classism, it smacks of being completely out of tune with what people of color and low-income individuals need in terms of education," Edwards continued.
Edwards said parents want to be at the table, and asked education officials to wait to see the impact of a $1.5 billion school funding reform passed into law last year.