Press Release – Hundreds of Families to Rally at Boston’s Faneuil Hall

Hundreds of Families to Rally at Boston’s Faneuil Hall

Call on state and city leadership to embrace bold educational change
BOSTON, MA—November 10, 2014—Hundreds of public school families from Boston and surrounding communities will hold a rally at Boston’s Faneuil Hall this Thursday, November 13th at 8:45AM in Sam Adams Park.  The rally, titled 77,000 Reasons to Believe, will call for a bold new plan to make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to eliminate racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps and offer every child a world-class education.

“We believe in our kids.  We believe every single one of them can succeed at the highest level – regardless of where they come from, their family circumstances, or what language they speak at home,” said Stacey Marlow, a parent leader from Mattapan.

Event organizers are hoping to focus attention on a troubling reality for families in Massachusetts: 77,000 children across the Commonwealth currently attend persistently failing schools, where fewer than one-in-three students can either read or do math on grade level. Analysis shows that these schools overwhelmingly serve low-income children of color.  Low-income students make up 85% (over 65,000 students) of all children who attend failing schools, while 71% (over 55,000 students) of students in failing schools are African-American or Latino.

“This is a crisis, and we need to act now,” said Tonya Morris, a mother of five from Dorchester.

Failing schools are concentrated in Massachusetts’ urban centers, including a large percentage of schools in Boston, where over 19,000 students attend forty failing schools.  In Worcester, Springfield, Holyoke, Brockton, and New Bedford, over one-third of all students attend failing schools.

Despite these disturbing figures, parent organizers are eager to work with new city and state leaders. Parent organizers cite Mayor Walsh and Governor-Elect Baker as leaders that are committed to the type of bold, transformational change that they want to see.

“I know that under Mayor Walsh’s leadership, we can and will offer every child in Boston the education that he or she deserves,” said Marlow.

“We’re ready to work side-by-side with our elected leaders and speak out on behalf of our children,” added Sheyla Negron, a parent organizer from Roslindale.

Many of the parent advocates gathering on Thursday send their children to Boston’s high-performing charter schools but there will be a diversity of parents from all types of schools represented at the rally. Parent leaders are quick to say that bold change must include more than just an expansion of charter schools and have actively worked to build a movement of parents from all school types.

“Parents don’t care about the type of school – we just want to make sure it’s a great school,” said Morris.

“We’re tired of all the talk about district vs. charter. We all want the best for our children, and we’re ready to work together to expand all types of great schools,” said Negron.

“With 77,000 children trapped in failing schools, it’s going to take a movement of parents from every neighborhood and every type of school to bring a great education to all our kids,” said Raiyan Syed, the Massachusetts State Director of Families for Excellent Schools.