Saturday, March 28, 2009

Town Hall Meeting with Governor Patrick

Hey everybody, see you tomorrow!

I was invited by the Boston Student Advisory Council, one of our allies in the coalition, to go to this town hall meeting broadcast on TV at the Kennedy Library on Thursday. Since the State is so important in the process now, we had a lot of questions to ask him. The main ones were:

-You distributed $168 million from the stimulus package to suburban schools instead of needy areas like Boston. Why, and will you commit to helping Boston close its education deficit?

-We have a platform asking for local options taxes for Boston to close the education budget deficit. Do you support them, and if so, what will you do to help get them passed?

-What do you think about Boston gaining home rule? (the ability to make its own taxes, like most other major cities do)

We were only able to ask the first one during the discussion... Patrick said "people act like the government just wrote me a big check and I can spend it how I want, but there are a lot of restrictions." When asked about the formula used to distribute the money, he admitted it was flawed, but said there was other money coming to Boston through Title I. A retired superintendent of a small school district in Southern Mass was sitting near us, and said Title I can't be used to close deficits or hire teachers, though.

After the meeting, we pushed our way up to Patrick and asked him about Title I. He said it COULD be used to close the deficit, and Boston could get "up to 60 million." We're not sure if this is true, but it's probably not; the former superintendent we talked to was actually in the education system, and has no political points to gain by pushing one agenda. We need to do research on this!

We also asked Patrick about local option taxes, and he said he supported them, but glossed over what he'd do to support them. We got hustled off before we could ask about home rule, and his staff wouldn't let him sign our petition right then.

So, it was mixed... BUT we got the contact info of several people in the education department and the governor's staff, so we can set up a meeting with him personally to find out what we don't already know. We'll discuss more tomorrow!

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