^ some of the many recommendations advanced at last night’s Dudley Square Neighborhood Initiative meeting
—- —- —- —-
If last night’s meeting at the Dudley Square Neighborhood Initiative’s Headquarters indicates, residents want an education prospect very different from the situation that exists now.
Each table of people at the meeting was asked to discuss what aspects of current education they think are working and those they think need more work. The group included school principals, teachers, parents, and one member of the Boston School Committee, Jeri Robinson. Their responses were written up on large sheets of paper (see my photographs) and produced remarkably authoritative assessments:
- Contrary to those who wanted the old Dearborn School preserved and a different location, or different model, sett\led upon for the new Dearborn, last night’s people universally like the new Dearborn STEM Academy.
- Everybody agreed that there needs be a broader range of school choice : charters and, yes, schools operated in partnership with employers.
- Everybody wants to see greater parental involvement and a higher number of people-of-color teaching staff.
- Everybody agreed that students need to be confronted with far moire real, world, everyday experience
- Almost everybody had praise for the Public School headquarters being located now in Dudley Square, no longer downtown.
Attendees also want to see a curriculum better attuned to “21st century skills”; younger teachers; more up to date technology in classrooms; a longer school day; and stricter monitoring of bullying at school and on school buses. Strong, too, was support for more effective special needs teaching. Many want better “ESL” (English as second language) pedagogy. Few had a good word for the present BPS use of public transportation for seventh and eighth graders.
Little, if any, discussion was had of school budgets. Much of what the meeting did not like, or wanted reformed, lacks budget money to accomplish. That said, what you’ve read amounts to an education menu monumentally different from current parameters. Expanding school choice means, first, getting the cap on charter school creation lifted. Expanding partnership pedagogy is fiercely opposed by the Diane Ravitch, teacher-control constituency. Younger teachers threatens Boston Public Schools’ teacher tenure system. The other DSNI recommendations challenge fewer entrenchments, but those that challenge had the broadest support.
Clearly the Dudley area’s residents and education professionals get what almost everyone else wants, who cares about education in Massachusetts. The Dudley list also parallels, quite closely, the education platform advocated by John Connolly in the epic 2013 Mayor contest. I highly recommend that city and state elected office holders, at all levels, think seriously about the full range of last night’s agenda and work to get as much of it implemented as feasible — beginning with, but not at all limited to, charter school cap lift on next year’s November ballot.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere