An education agenda
As Boston moves into election season, there will be a changing of the guard, with a new mayor and possibly four or five new city councilors. The last time this happened, we experienced one of the most diverse city councils in Boston’s history, a milestone only overshadowed by Boston’s first Black woman mayor, Kim Janey. We hope the new council will be just as diverse and that the new mayor will put all of the children of the Boston Public Schools at the top of the new city government’s priority list.
While access to an equitable public education is essential, Boston Educational Justice Alliance also supports the need of residents to have affordable housing and comprehensive recovery resources for Black and Latino communities that have been the hardest hit by the pandemic. BEJA is hoping for even more equity milestones from our leadership.
BEJA believes that every BPS student needs to be loved and respected, and deserves a culturally enriched, relevant and high-quality education. BEJA brings together parents, students, educators and community members to create a better Boston public school system.
We know the important role that public servants and policymakers play in ensuring that BPS families have what they need. BEJA shares the following educational platform for leaders seeking Mayoral, City Council or any elected candidacy:
• A BPS budget that is based on what schools actually need. Each year the BPS budget is based primarily on a formula. It does not accurately reflect the budgetary needs of BPS school communities.
• Community input on decision-making, policy and budget changes for transparency and authentic stakeholder decision-making.
• Ensuring that BPS properties remain intended for BPS educational and family usage. Do not give away any more properties to private groups. For example, the McCormack School’s green fields were given to the Boys & Girls Club in August 2020.
• Support an elected school committee structure with two student voting representatives.
• Oppose high-stakes standardized testing and follow the recommendations of the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment.
• Support a moratorium of BuildBPS until BPS has provided a thorough plan and an equity analysis of who’s hurt by the many school closings that the current plan calls for.
• Ensure high-needs students receive compensatory services and resources that they are entitled to.
Our elected officials must commit themselves to ending systemic racism, which creates the current segregated system in which some students receive a quality education and others do not. We need leadership to narrow opportunity gaps and focus on the residents who are experiencing the worst of the pandemic, not just in the Boston Public Schools but in all our neighborhoods.
This educational platform is a work in progress. BEJA welcomes input as we prepare for a new cycle of Boston leadership and direction. There is no reason that a city as wealthy as Boston should struggle to provide residents with access to a high-quality public education. As the birthplace of American public education, we have a unique responsibility to ensure that every child receives a world-class public education. Our elected officials must be willing to dismantle structures of oppression, enact and support bold policy changes and create budgets that reflect what our students, parents and educators deserve.
Ruby Reyes is director of the Boston Education Justice Alliance.