In a Gentrifying City, Are Some Students Expendable?

The latest episode of Have You Heard is inspired by a brand new, and must read book: Ghosts in the Schoolyard, by sociologist Eve Ewing. Ghosts excavates the long backstory behind Chicago’s school closures in 2013, but Ewing’s analysis is just as relevant to Boston in 2018. Jennifer heads to the McCormack Middle School, a school that’s been slated for closure in a neighborhood that’s rapidly gentrifying. Might there be a connection? And in a city that’s growing ever richer, are some students expendable? Complete transcript of the episode available here. And if you’re a fan of the high-quality content that Have You Heard serves up, consider becoming a Patreon supporter by clicking the link below.

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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 →

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 →

Do the Rights Thing

Congratulations to my fave Boston student activists! Thanks to your support, they won $10,000 from the Nellie Mae Foundation to support their work on student rights and voice.

teenamarieIt’s time for something a little different, reader: a happy good news story! I’m shouting out to my fave Boston student activists, who are doing some of the best work in the country around student rights and voice. And best of all, this story comes with an action component—a *do now,* you might say.  Continue reading →