What is Worth $1 Million?

A middle school serving some of Boston’s most vulnerable students faces a $1 million budget cut. Teacher Adina Schecter reflects on what that says about the city and its priorities…

By Adina Schecter
It is 6:45am and I’ve just pulled into the parking lot of the McCormack Middle School in Dorchester, MA.  I can already hear our sixth, seventh and eighth graders entering the building, their chattering voices somewhere between childhood and adulthood. This morning, like every morning, the staff at the McCormack—teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, and City Year corps members—are lined up outside to greet each student individually. Once inside, students make their way to the cafeteria for a hot breakfast. Many of them depend on our school for two meals a day. The staff at the McCormack understands that the best way to get our students ready to learn is to make sure they have food in their bellies and personal attention from an adult who cares.  

But the McCormack, a traditional Boston Public School that serves a diverse group of middle school students, faces a budget reduction of more than a million dollars next year.  We have serious concerns about our school’s fate.  Already lacking the resources to meet the complex needs of our students, my colleagues and I now fear for the survival of our school community, and for our students who are losing high-quality teachers and programs. Continue reading →

Our Voices Were Heard, But They Were Ignored

Students at a Boston High School that grooms community leaders learn a hard lesson

By Bilal Lafta
BilalBoston Community Leadership Academy is very unique in that it has a mission to expose students to community service and focuses a lot on leadership. Students have a community service requirement in order to graduate, but many of them end up taking that requirement above and beyond and really becoming a leader. That’s the reason why when students first heard about the budget cuts back in January, we took it as an opportunity to fight back. That’s what we’ve been doing for months now. We’ve been speaking out at the School Committee, speaking directly to our city councilors, contacting the superintendent and protesting.

Our school has taught us that if you follow this path of leadership and you act as a leader and say what you believe in, adults will hear you and ultimately you’ll be able to bring about change. That didn’t happen in this circumstance, despite the fact that we had so many students protesting and voicing their opinions. Our voices were heard, but they were ignored. Continue reading →

Why We Walked Out

#BPSwalkout organizer Jahi Spaloss explains why Boston students walked out—and how they did it…

#BPSwalkout organizer Jali Spaloss

#BPSwalkout organizer Jahi Spaloss

By Jahi Spaloss
I started helping to plan the walkout after I learned about the budget cuts and what was going to be cut from our schools. My school, Boston Green Academy, which is an in-district charter school, was going to lose science classes, even though they are a core part of the curriculum and four years of science is a graduation requirement. When they cut things that are going to keep us from graduating, honestly it feels like they’re dooming us to failure. Or cutting extra curricular activities that could provide students with a full scholarship to college in the future. It baffles me why they they’re doing this because these cuts are basically taking opportunities away from the next generation of leaders. Continue reading →

As Long As We’re Silent, Nothing Will Change

Boston students walk out and speak up…

bpswalkout6What’s that, reader? I’m afraid you’ll have to speak up. I’m surrounded by 2,000+ Boston students who are screaming *student power* and *no cuts* at the top of their young lungs. Pissed off over proposed cuts to their schools, the students walked out of their classrooms and into the streets yesterday for the biggest student protest in recent memory. My goal was to talk to as many of them as possible in order to get a sense of how they see the city’s increasingly bitter school wars. I came armed with my tape recorder and lots of questions: like why did so may of their signs seem to disparage Mayor Marty Walsh by name? And since so many grown ups agree that charter schools rule, shouldn’t we just have more of those? And, come on, who’s really behind this??? Fortunately the students I talked to—from 15 different Boston high schools—were eager to share their thoughts. Shall we hear from some of them now?  Continue reading →

Waiting for a Super Man

Who will be the next superintendent of the Boston Public Schools (and who really gets to decide???)

waitingIt’s a bird. No–it’s a plane. No–it’s actually snow. Why it’s snowing men, reader! Four men to be precise, each of whom longs to lead the Boston Public Schools. But first these *he’s* must make their way through a gauntlet of challenges: like using *innovation* three different ways in a sentence, putting the best spin possible on a veritable closet full of edu-skeletons, and engaging in a marathon’s worth of glad-handing with *stakeholders.* So who is to be our Super man? Full disclosure: I have no idea, but I suggest that we meet them quickly as a decision is imminent. Continue reading →