Thursday, March 26, 2009

pictures from rally at State House

Screenshot of Channel 7 Coverage - thanks to the organizers for printing out and hanging the posters! How is it that they started this article with "Dozens" when they were about 700 people - a little off-base in their estimates!!!! Images of the "save the arts" trash can design that I made on t-shirts and DVDs. Ginny still has some t-shirts left - size large if people want to purchase - all proceeds to BLS Arts and BLS Home & School.

Jill and I attempt a media intervention with Fox News who arrived at our school to cover vampire rumors and were not going to cover the budget- they let us speak! Thanks! Picture further down, nothing lining up right. Also further down BPS parent Kenneth holding the poster I made with his moving quote from an earlier BPS school committee hearing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Posters for 3/26 Rally (drafts)

These are rough drafts of two new posters for the 3/26 rally at the MA state house.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Deval Patrick betrays Public School Students

Letter from Karina below - I made posters that are now t-shirts for wearing to this 3/26 - see prior entries - please contact me if you know anyone who can come Thursday!

Dear Boston Schools parent,

It seems like a long time ago that I wrote asking for your help at our rally at the first School Committee meeting in February. Since then the School budget seems to have dominated all our lives. Now, so many people are involved that I can't write you a personal email like I did last time; I hope you'll forgive me.

Yesterday we got a particularly nasty shock: as you know, Boston got no money from the first round of funding from the stimulus package. So, we called the State House to ask when we would get our share. They told us we wouldn't. That's right - you read it correctly!

The governor wants to give the money that President Obama intended for needy school districts to Belmont and Wellesley - while telling Boston to deal with its own problems.

While this tells us a lot about how the Governor views Boston, it's not the end of the process - the House of Representatives and the Senate do have a chance to weigh in. I'm writing to you because I need your help. This bad news makes our lobby day at the State House on Thursday even more critical. Please show up at noon, even for just an hour. We need to be there in force
to show the Governor that Boston will not accept his decision, and that we parents need to be heard.

If you remember, the last time I wrote, I told you someone at City Hall had asked me, "Where's the moral outrage?" I'm sure the Governor's attitude toward Boston, and the consequences it will have on all our children makes you as angry as it makes me.

Please join your fellow parents at the State House, Thursday March 26th at noon to show that anger and to tell Boston's senators and Representatives that we won't be left out in the cold!

We need everyone to be there.

Thank you for your help,

Karina Meiri

For more information and to register for lobby day go to

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

At English High School Committee Hearing

Thank you to the parents who helped hold up posters at the Budget hearing.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

CD cover for the arts

DVD sleeve design for the parent group that is putting together a DVD of all students in the arts to send to politicians to try to stop this madness. This week learned how some foundation just released a report about the arts in Boston Public Schools and at the foundation meeting THEY WERE IGNORING THE FACT THAT THE SCHOOL DEPARTMENT IS GUTTING THE BIGGEST IN-SCHOOL ARTS PROGRAM IN THE CITY. One parent was there luckily and spoke up. BLS arts and music serves 1200 students annually. The city's arts high school only has about 400 students total enrollment. So here we have a successful in-school arts program that could be used as a model for other high schools and it is being trashed. Meanwhile, the BLS student jazz band won a gold medal and the theater group advanced in an international competition....

Sunday, March 1, 2009

More & Revised Poster Designs

More designs. For PDF versions, please email me and you can have some to print. Revised "trash can" design. "Number Sense and Operations" is actual wording from the Mass. MCAS exams for those of you reading this from out-of-state. Copycop has a %44 off sale -posters only $15 there with web coupon sale. Also, I can modify this top design to cross out subjects/names specific to your school.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Poster Design ideas in Response to Budget cuts, drafts

Click Image for larger view

Poster above my response to BLS plan to "shovel" a successful arts program into the trash. Ignores decades of research on the importance of the arts/creative learning strategies in education. BLS is taking a step backwards and also leaving arts only to those who can afford it or have the time/luck to get their child into a free program.

Poster below from quote I recorded at a school committee budget meeting, February 45h. Parent testimony on the horrible impact of budget cuts on the schools.

Poster below highlighting research findings on the critical role that the arts play in education. They aren't just "extras" - they can make a HUGE difference in long term academic success. I chose school bus colors because busing is a heavy financial and political issue that defines the system. Giant political/economic/social/historic issues with buses and schools and Boston. Ted Landsmark had this to say on the issue in an op ed in the Boston Globe, January 13, 2009.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Boston Phoenix Article on Education and School Committee #

The Boston School Committee is a huge part of the crisis in education in Boston. Stubborn. Doesn't act/advocate in the best interest of students.

26 Court Street, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Telephone: 617-635-9014
Fax: 617-635-9689
Elizabeth A. Sullivan, Executive Secretary

Boston Phoenix article on Boston Schools >>>>>>>>

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Letter to the Headmaster

February 12, 2009

Dear Headmaster Mooney-Teta,

I am the parent of an 8th grader at the Boston Latin School and am devastated to learn that the budget proposal for 2009-10 eliminates one of the best public school art programs and most dedicated faculty that I have encountered both as a parent and a former teacher. These cuts destroy a program that has been painstakingly built over the past decade to become an award-winning model for arts education in US public high schools.

I am stunned by your decision to target the arts program. Why destroy something that serves such a large percentage of the student body, fosters academic achievements in school, is instrumental in college admissions, and leads to their success in the workplace? I understand that there is economic panic, but this decision I respectfully must argue will result in long-term damage to the future of too many young people.

The arts curriculum has been the key to engaging my son in school. It is why he has maintained A's and B's in his classes. The arts teachers foster a sense of community in their classrooms and then outside the classroom in the performing groups. They treat the students as unique individuals with unlimited creative potential. Attending music classes is how our son made friends and why he wants to get up so early and get to school. The arts teachers/curriculum gave my son confidence in a new, giant, often overwhelming institution. Playing trumpet in the football and junior jazz bands gave him a sense of pride in and connection to the school that frankly, would be impossible to achieve in any of the academic classes or clubs. He would have dropped out last year if not for the music program and the music teachers. Mr. Snyder is particularly outstanding – I am appalled that he was given notice.

There is extensive research to support the fact that my son's experience is not unique and that the arts are a critical component of students’ learning and achievement in other academic areas. For example, see the Harvard-based study on the impact of music in non-musical areas, Forgeard M, Winner E, Norton A, Schlaug G. Practicing a Musical Instrument in Childhood is Associated with Enhanced Verbal Ability and Nonverbal Reasoning. PLoS ONE, 2008; 3 (10): e3566 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003566. Research has refuted past notions of the creative arts as “extras” and placed them in the center of k-12 education. Take a moment and listen to the voices of the students in case the scientific research isn't enough:

The Massachusetts Arts Curriculum Framework reflects these findings and states that:
“All students in the Commonwealth’s public schools will become proficient in understanding the arts and communicating in at least one arts discipline by the time they graduate from high school. In order to achieve these goals, it is recommended in this framework that students begin their study of the arts in the elementary grades, and continue to study one or more of the arts disciplines throughout middle and high school.”

Ending the arts curriculum at the high school level will severely impact many students’ abilities to get into college and receive scholarships, thereby cancelling out the reason they attend the Boston Latin School. Colleges are looking for students whose achievements go beyond the traditional academic subjects. A substantial record of involvement in the arts in many cases may tip the balance in favor of a student's admission.

Finally, the students will be at a disadvantage in their future careers without arts in their curriculum. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, an organization whose board includes executives from Intel, Adobe, Cisco, Ford, HP, Apple, Microsoft and Verizon, lists the arts as one of the core subjects in its "Framework for 21st Century Learning." The Framework also specifies cognitive/behavioral skills that will be crucial for 21st-century workers, including:

o Creativity and innovation
o Communication and collaboration
o Flexibility and adaptability
o Initiative and self-direction
o Leadership and responsibility

Please commit to using any funds which may be returned to the BLS budget for the restoration of the arts faculty, and if the worst-case scenario prevails, we further ask that you reallocate the cuts in a more equitable way that reflects the integral role of the arts in the Massachusetts core curriculum and the BLS educational experience.

Sincerely yours,

Lisa Link

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why teach creative arts in public schools?

The students say it best. >>

Today I had talks with office aides/interns for:
Senator Kennedy, Senator Kerry, Congressman Lynch,  Congressman Cappuano, State Rep. Rush, State Rep. Forry, State Senator Walsh, the liason on education fro Mayor Menino. I also wrote state reps Balser and Kaufman since I'd done interviews with them on education 8 years ago for the Boston Cyberarts Festival.

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.... We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament.

The above quote dates back to 1983 and can be found in Ronald Reagan’s A Nation at Risk.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Parent Meeting with City Councilor

"They are going to have the debt for 
this for the rest of their lives 
and we're not going to educate them to handle it."

"Where is the outrage on the part of the superintendent, 
why aren't they advocating for the kids, for education?"

"The time is now for bold decisions"

Quotes from tonight's meeting at a parent's house with City Councilor John Tobin - not sure who said which one.... The parent was incredibly generous to open up her home to others and even  had sandwiches in case people were coming from work.  I learned that there are really great parents at all these schools who I wished I was meeting under different circumstances and that:

  1. The school committee is appointed by the mayor.
  2. The school committee was offered the chance to hold their Feb 4th meeting in city council chambers so more parents could attend. They turned it down, met at Court street, and turned kids away and parents away -they treated people they are supposed to represent horribly.
  3. There are no school committee members representing West Roxbury, East Boston, or Allston/Brighton.
  4.  Some school committee members don't attend any of the budget hearings, one woman, ?Helen?, from JP does a lot of work and takes it seriously.
  5. The school committee came up with a budget that involved no-thought and is anti-education - no targeted, thoughtful budgeting or elimination of waste - just firing a lot of teachers impacting some schools (my child's) more than others. They are running a system with almost a billion dollars when you add in grants for 57,000 students and they cannot figure out how to disperse it.   There are huge amounts of administrative waste - duplication of services and millions spent on transporting  students around the city on almost empty buses.
  6. The councilor worked on a plan to create more equitable neighborhood zones several years ago and it didn't pass.
  7. Non-profits own 53% of the land  in Boston - don't pay taxes - why not make them each adopt a school???
  8. Wednesday, 10-12 there is a meeting for the school committee to present their budget to the city council and we are invited.
  9. March 28th school committee sends budget to Boston City Council, John Connelly acting chair of education on the Council.
  10. Teachers were given notice, pulled out of classes in tears in front of the students. The Councilor said the process is still early, the budget isn't set in stone until June 30th but I think so much damage has already been done.
  11. We should push hard on the state to pass the increase meals tax and lobby the school committee and demand responses.
  12. So, yes the economy is bad and local aid has dropped but really, in the end, the school committee has hundreds of millions of dollars to work with.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Boston Latin School Gets Least Per Student

A page out of the BPS Budget reveals that the Boston Latin School, a  public high school serving 20% of the city's high school students gets the LEAST amount of money, $4,430 per student, as compared to say,  $17K at Day & Evening Academy. 

Monday, February 2, 2009

Councilor Yoon's good response, wish he was governor

Dear Lisa,

Thanks so much for writing about your concern for the school budget.

I am a BPS parent myself. My two kids go to Lee Academy Pilot School in Dorchester. I am feeling the anxiety as well.

Rest assured that I will do everything in my power to oppose cuts to education that will short-change our children's future.

Maintaining excellence at our flagship of BLS and other Boston Public Schools are not just important for your children and our city, but for our country. These schools, and all BPS schools, prepare the next generation of leaders who will tackle the challenges we face now. Undercutting instruction and enrichment for them at a critical time in your kids' life makes no sense.

What makes more sense is to figure out what expenses and programs outside the classroom can bear the burden, and also to once and for all take seriously the problem that we do not maximize our city's revenue potential, making us vulnerable to the whims of state government and local aid.

I will push hard on this issue and make sure that our voices are heard, because as you have told me, our future literally depends on it.

Thanks for voicing your concern,


Friday, January 30, 2009

Gov. Deval Patrick vs. Public Education

In response to my letter, I get this from the Governor's office:

Dear Lisa,

On behalf of Governor Deval L. Patrick, thank you for sharing your thoughts about funding in the FY 2010 budget.

As you know, our current economic situation demands difficult decisions. Governor Patrick realizes that behind every budget item is a family, a worker, an important service or a worthy idea. Although declining revenues made it impossible to fund every program, the administration crafted a responsible budget for the times while continuing to provide assistance to those who need it most.

Please know that the Governor is grateful to have your voice as part of this discussion, and he hopes you will stay involved in your government moving forward. Now, more than ever, your participation matters.

Tom Reece
Constituent Services Aide

Monday, January 26, 2009

BLS Parents Web Site

Some parents at my kid's school put together an action web site:

Friday, January 23, 2009

Reva's Letter

Thank you to Reva for editing the letter and giving it a great ending! 

January 23, 2009

Representative Stephen Lynch
221 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-2109

Dear Representative Lynch:

I am a Boston resident who is writing to express outrage at the proposed budget cuts to the Boston Public Schools. My oldest child is an eighth grader who attends the Boston Latin School, which is the city’s largest high school with 2,440 students. 20% of Boston public high school students attend this school! It already has the burden of the highest student-teacher ratio of all the high schools – 27 kids: 1 teacher.

The Boston Public School formula states that a school of Boston Latin's size needs 132 teachers; the proposed budget would cut it to only 99. It will become dysfunctional at that staffing level, eliminating the quality of core academics, and completely dismantling all the programs which distinguish it as an excellent public school. Class sizes would reach 30 or more students.

It is disturbing that the city and state are punishing the very students who are making the “right choices.” These are the students who wake up at 6:00 am to be at school promptly at 7:40 am after taking the MBTA buses through Boston traffic, and then returning home to do hours of homework each night.

As a city parent, I was confident that my child had as good a chance as any suburban child to receive a very high quality education, due to the challenging academic standards at this Boston public school. The budget for next year would eliminate this level playing field, once again underlining that good public education can only be found in rich suburbs. We should not stand by to allow this inequity in the United States, as ‘children are left behind’ in our cities.

Congressman, I applaud your efforts to ensure that due diligence is done on the stimulus package, but I need to see your support for the education component. We must send the message that excellence in public schools is our national goal, and will be vigorously supported by the federal government. I am anxious to watch your support on a national and local level to bring economic stimulus funds to our Boston public schools, and to stop these budget cuts.

Sincerely yours,


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Letter to one of the Councilor's at Large

Tonight, I wrote my Boston City councilors, the four "councilors at large" and the mayor. I tried to personalize each letter in the first paragraph. Here is a sample, thanks for any comments on improving:

Dear Councilor Connolly:

I am a resident of Ward 20, Precinct 20, West Roxbury, MA. I am writing to express outrage at the proposed budget cuts to the Boston Public Schools. On your web site, it states that you are a former teacher who "has been a strong voice for improving Boston Public Schools" so I am very interested in your response to this budget.

My oldest child attends Boston Latin School. As you probably know, this is the city’s largest high school with 2,440 children. 20% of Boston public high school students attend this school! It already has the burden of the highest student teacher ratio of all the high schools – 27:1 and still hasn’t recovered from budget cuts of five years ago.

The BPS formula states that a school of Boston Latin's size needs 132 teachers; the proposed budget cuts it down to 99. It will become dysfunctional at that staffing level.

My sense is that the “system” expects parents to magically finance this budget gap (with private tutors, outside programs…) because of the school’s reputation even though almost a third of the students qualify for free/reduced lunch (latest statistics on and many other families are just at the limit.

Although I currently earn well under six figures, until now, I was confident that my child had as good a chance as any suburban child to receive an excellent education due to high academic standards at this Boston Public School. The budget for next year would gut this level playing field.

The current proposal by the Boston Public Schools means that:

********* 100 or more of the youngest students will spend 30% of their school day warehoused in the cafeteria with 2 
adults to supervise.

********* High school students will lose 20% of their academic opportunities, 5 rather than 6 academic subjects. This would instantly diminish college opportunities for hundreds of poor and working-class students in Boston who attend this school in order to gain entrance AND scholarships to college.
********* Advanced placement classes will be canceled. Again, students’ chances for college and scholarships would be greatly diminished.

********* The Arts programs will be eliminated. Research in education over the last 20 years has expanded our knowledge about how teens and young adults learn, communicate, and understand the world. For example, Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences has shown that the arts play a vital role in improving students’ ability to learn. At the BLS winter concert, students paused before their performances to state point blank that they would not be in school today if not for the arts. I wish you could have heard those statements.

********* PE and health and at least one guidance counselor will be eliminated. Again, given the recent incidents of violence in public schools -- think Columbine -- cutting a major stress outlet for young people who are already under tremendous pressure is short-sighted. It poses a public safety risk for the school and the city.

It is disturbing that the city and state are punishing the very students who are making the “right choices.” The ones who get up at 6:00 am to be at school promptly at 7:40 am after taking the MBTA through Boston traffic (!!!!) and then return home to do hours of homework a night.

Thank you for doing everything you can to stop these budget cuts.

Sincerely yours,

Lisa Link, (home phone number listed here)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Boston Globe Article and Comments

The Boston Globe ran an article today.  "even the city's most successful and politically connected school will not go unscathed" says today's Globe article.  It implies that the Boston Latin School is super elite. Anyway, if they are so connected, why are they so incredibly understaffed?

Doesn't mention that almost 1/3 - maybe more - who knows this year - of the students qualify for the free/reduced lunch program - that's hundreds of students. 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Balancing the bailout on the backs of school children

So, on the parent listserv, one person made a comment something to the effect of balancing the financial bailout on the backs of public school kids. 

Everyday when I pick up the paper it's like reading some fairy tale gone awry with the bad guys totally triumphing in the end. Give billions to financiers with no strings attached and at the same time send out funding restrictions that will destroy public education. At lot more than one child will be left behind.

I learned on the listserv that our school in particular is a target, because it is the biggest, 7-12th grade, the school central office decides the easiest way to save money is to ask our school to cut almost 20% of its teaching staff.  It will cease to function as a viable educational institution.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Boston Schools to cut Art and Phys Ed

Today learned that the Boston, Public Schools will be eliminating art and gym from my son's middle/high school as well as most of the new, dynamic academic teachers. This is a school where many of the students participate in the arts either through bands, choruses, drama. They have so many performing groups that they spread the holiday concerts over two nights, three hours long each.

If you know statistics on why creativity and physical movement in education is important, please email me or let me make you an editor so you can post the info for people to use in letters to the governor, city council, school superintendent.

Tonight at the holiday concert the conductor had to announce that all the music teachers were probably going to be laid off. If was so depressing. His daughter, a recent graduate, talked about how she just texted a friend who cried when she heard. The student performers talked about how they wouldn't have made it through school without music, that they wouldn't be standing there today. The music program is probably the best thing at that school, the most dedicated teachers. I am devastated.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Made a call

Day 2:
Called my representative Mike Rush's office. Very nice, took my call even though it was 4:55. I asked who in "the state" approved the funding.  The polite assistant said that he would look into it. I gave him my email.

You can find your representatives here on the Mass Gov website.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

46 Million for Newton

A day or two after mentioning that Boston might be firing 200 police officers and many school systems are laying off teachers because they don't have an extra $50K to keep them, I read in the Boston Globe that the "State" has awarded 46.6 Million dollars to Newton to fund their bloated, mismanaged high school building project.

They picked an expensive, designer "STARchitect" - Graham Gund who specializes in museums, not public schools.  His design uses non-standard components that will inflate the cost of the building. So, instead of leaving another angry comment at the end of the article, I want to find out why the "State" approved the money and what the needs are of every other high school.