Monday, March 7, 2016

Thousands of Boston Students Just Walked Out of Class to Save Their Schools

Thousands of Boston high school students have descended onto the Boston Common and the Massachusetts State House in an unprecedented citywide walkout. Students are demanding the city rescind a controversial property tax break to General Electric and cease all budget cuts.

The Boston Public School District (BPS) is facing a budget deficit ranging from anywhere between $10 and $50 million for 2016. BPS students are calling out Mayor Marty Walsh for granting huge corporate tax giveaways while forcing schools to cut important curriculum and lay off faculty and staff. BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang estimates the budget deficit is approximately $50 million, but Mayor Walsh estimates the figure to be $10 million.
$18.6 million of the budget deficit comes from the district being forced to pay for charter schools that enroll BPS students. While the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is supposed to reimburse BPS for the charter school costs, it didn’t even cover half of the expenses last year.
A recent city-approved property tax break for General Electric is to blame for another $25 million that could’ve gone toward plugging the BPS budget gap. GE also receives an additional $151 million in city and state tax incentives. In return for all of these tax breaks, GE is only directly employing 600 people, which the commonwealth estimates will result in an additional 590 indirect jobs.
Boston city councilor Tito Jackson said the entire reason for GE choosing Boston’s workforce is due to its excellent schools, which are being sacrificed for corporate handouts.
“If we don’t invest in our talent and our talent pipeline, a company like GE will come and go and will not stay here,” Jackson told BostInno.
Boston students self-organized the walkout, handing out a flyer at their schools educating their fellow students about the budget cuts and encouraging them to join the walkout. 

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