This from the Boston Globe by Lawrence Harmon:
NEARLY EVERY major issue facing Boston’s public school system — educational quality, excess building capacity, parent satisfaction, staff morale, and budget challenges — ricocheted around the auditorium of English High School Tuesday night during a turbulent School Committee meeting. With so much stuff flying around, some people were bound to get hurt.

Ostensibly, the meeting was about school superintendent Carol Johnson’s recommendation to close three poorly performing elementary schools and two high school programs. But it was more about the long-term survival of the Boston schools. Boston can’t afford to keep dozens of small, inefficient schools in operation while it faces a roughly $60 million budget shortfall in the next fiscal year. The system supports 135 schools for just 56,000 students. Roughly 5,000 seats are empty, a number that is sure to rise as high-performing charter schools prepare to serve an additional 5,000 students.

Still, many parents don’t want to hear it. In Boston, academic achievement has become so elusive that it is often enough for a school to provide a safe environment. Small schools like the Emerson in Roxbury and the Clap in Dorchester — both on the list for closure — earn top grades from parents for caring. But they receive consistently poor grades from education officials for performance on the statewide MCAS exams.

One Clap parent at the school board hearing became so overwrought about the prospect of losing the “warm and loving care’’ of the school that he needed to be literally wrapped up in a protest banner and guided away from the microphone. At other schools, male staffers stand in for missing fathers. “Our families feel safe with us because we love their children,’’ testified Guy Bushfan, a “surround-care-paraprofessional’’ at the East Zone Early Learning Center in Dorchester, which is also on the closure list. “I am (like) a father to over 100 children.’’

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