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Old 01-12-2009, 08:23 PM   #1
Jane Jetson
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Schools

A school is an excellent idea - it will bring vitality to an otherwise sterile area and build a neighborhood. The problem is not a lack of money. When the Beacon Hill parents wanted to buy the building on Brimmer St. to use as a public school, the city nixed it. There is no willingness to work with the community and get creative in seeking private endowments for the public schools - if money is really the issue. The parents in the West End, North End, Beacon Hill and the Back Bay are motivated enough to make this happen.

O'Brien is smart enough to use his leverage to make a deal - there's nothing wrong with that. In the end the city will be the winner, because of the increased tax base made up of all the families that didn't have to run out to the suburbs for the schools.
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:33 PM   #2
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

Instead of a regular BPS school, perhaps it could be a charter school. That would probably appeal more to the surrounding neighborhood anyway.
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:53 PM   #3
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

Brimmer Street already has 2 private schools, perhaps that had something to do with the city vetoing the most recent request.

A private or charter school would be an excellent addition to the Bullfinch Triangle as a neighborhood. However, given the attitude of the Governor and the legislature, thanks to generously campaign contributions by the self serving failures at the teachers' union, I suspect this would be strangled discretely in a back room by some committee.
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Old 01-12-2009, 08:58 PM   #4
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

The guy owns the land, he should be able to do with it whatever he pleases. Neighborhood busybodies with no agenda except to make their own lives better at the expense of everyone else should not dictate the city's policies. End of story.

There's no "neighborhood" surrounding that building. There's City Hall and the JFK buildings on one side, a submerged eight-lane highway to the other, a county trial court behind it, and a basketball / hockey / concert arena up the street.

You can see the tricky maneuvering this guy's attempting. "Oh, the West End and Bulfinch Triangle are the same neighborhood." wtf??? Just another attempt by someone to get his piece of the pie.

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Old 01-12-2009, 09:13 PM   #5
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

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Originally Posted by Jane Jetson View Post
A school is an excellent idea - it will bring vitality to an otherwise sterile area and build a neighborhood. The problem is not a lack of money. When the Beacon Hill parents wanted to buy the building on Brimmer St. to use as a public school, the city nixed it. There is no willingness to work with the community and get creative in seeking private endowments for the public schools - if money is really the issue. The parents in the West End, North End, Beacon Hill and the Back Bay are motivated enough to make this happen.

O'Brien is smart enough to use his leverage to make a deal - there's nothing wrong with that. In the end the city will be the winner, because of the increased tax base made up of all the families that didn't have to run out to the suburbs for the schools.
I'm not talking about the money to build the school. If the school is to become a Boston Public School, there is absolutely no money left to fund for teachers, supplies, classes, etc. I have friends from the Boston Latin School and the Boston Latin Academy, two of the most endowed schools in the BPS system. BLA be will getting rid of all of its language department if the economic woes continue for the 09 year. BLS is getting rid of nearly all of the music & arts department while getting cuts in its language department as well. I believe nearly a quarter of those teaching in BLS may be cut and the number of classes will be reduced from 6 to 5 classes per day for this coming fall. If these two schools are experiencing that much trouble, think of the other bps schools.

Of course, if the economy improves in the coming years then this will work out. Otherwise this school needs to be a charter school or a private school.
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Old 01-12-2009, 09:19 PM   #6
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

The city will not allow a private school to be built - remember what happened at the Seaport?
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Old 01-13-2009, 10:49 AM   #7
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

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Originally Posted by Jane Jetson View Post
When the Beacon Hill parents wanted to buy the building on Brimmer St. to use as a public school, the city nixed it. There is no willingness to work with the community and get creative in seeking private endowments for the public schools - if money is really the issue. The parents in the West End, North End, Beacon Hill and the Back Bay are motivated enough to make this happen.
There's a HUGE equity problem with that. Schools should be built on need, not the fund raising ability of neighborhood parents.
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Old 01-13-2009, 11:00 AM   #8
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

But they DO need the school - they were willing to do this above and beyond the taxes that they pay.

If there are no public schools, only a handful of people who can afford private school tuition are going to stay in the city. The rest will go to the suburbs. What you are left with are neighborhoods with college students and wealthy "empty-nesters" who buy up the luxury condos. There is virtually no middle - no families of any age.

It's an unnatural environment.
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Old 01-13-2009, 11:43 AM   #9
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

Too bad the city wastes millions on busing and sending students to other school systems instead of using that money to improve and keep local schools functioning, but that would be one less political football to play with and make sense. I cannot fathom why Boston is so dead set against private and charter schools, other than on the basis of appeasing unions whose members have failed generations of school children. The city and state is creating and protecting a monopoly in a market where the public is crying for a better product and competition. Families have been driven out of the city for decades now because the powers that be refuse to allow parents to send their children to the schools of their choice. Think of how many families would have stayed or even flocked to the city if they knew their children could receive decent education?

Maybe all these school posts should be broken off into the planning forum?
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Old 01-13-2009, 11:51 AM   #10
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

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The city will not allow a private school to be built - remember what happened at the Seaport?
My opinion on that is that the developer stressed that this school would save the residents from having to send their kids to public schools. Menino had to speak out on this, although I'm sure he would have no problem with a private school here saving the city money.

There were a lot of kids at the Dec government center garage presentation. I over heard one parent saying it was important to show how many kids there are in the neighborhood.
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Old 01-13-2009, 11:59 AM   #11
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

Any time you make the choice to send your child to private school, you are in effect saying that the public school available is not adequate to meet your child's needs, for any of a number of reasons. Whether or not the developer voices this or implies this, it shouldn't be a reason to quash a project. It shouldn't take away from the need for the school. It's just spiteful, and it hurts the community.
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Old 01-13-2009, 12:19 PM   #12
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

I don't think this was an attempt to squash the project. I do think it was important as mayor to publicly defend the Boston schools system even thought the school system is horrible.
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:04 PM   #13
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

Instead of requiring developers to include "open space" in a project, or the affordable housing units, why not have them make an endowment to the school system?

With all the universities and businesses in the area, why isn't there more of a link with the schools (if there is one at all)? Adopt-a-class, scholarships, funding an afterschool program in the arts - it wouldn't cost these organizations that much compared to their other costs, and the PR they would get would be incredible.
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:14 PM   #14
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

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Instead of requiring developers to include "open space" in a project, or the affordable housing units, why not have them make an endowment to the school system?
Because the open space lobby and the school lobby are not one and the same. While nearly all NIMBYs are for open space (the family types because they want playspace and a "neighborhood [read: more suburban] feel", the old cranks because they're old cranks who will resist even the minutest change), only the family subset are for schools. Childless couples and empty nesters only want the concession that will benefit them, too - and there are only so many concessions to be wrested if a project will be built (and those concessions extracted) at all.

Quote:
With all the universities and businesses in the area, why isn't there more of a link with the schools (if there is one at all)? Adopt-a-class, scholarships, funding an afterschool program in the arts - it wouldn't cost these organizations that much compared to their other costs, and the PR they would get would be incredible.
In order to buy goodwill for its campus expansion, Columbia is building New York a brand new special high school, with all kinds of unprecedented access to university resources - and the locals are still upset, partly because the school's status will be such that it will take students from all over the city and not just their pork-hungry district. Point is, universities are often loathe (with good reason) to delve too deep into the politics of the public school system, which can both giveth and taketh away good PR based on the performance of a school, which is often based on vicissitudes (socioeconomic context, politically motivated rather than meritocratic hires and appointments, etc.) outside the university's control.
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:35 PM   #15
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

The problem with requiring a school here is there really aren't neighborhood schools.

I sent my child to Boston Public School for 1st grade (2 years ago) and moved him to a private school in second grade.

First, the public school wasn't convenient (it was in Mission Hill, and we were in Back Bay without a car, so it was a long T and/or 39 bus ride).

Secondly, the education was remedial at best. The teacher, a Southie native, told us that though our son wanted to participate in class, he often ignored him to engage other children who would otherwise be disruptive. The TEACHER recommended that we move him to a private school. Our son learned nothing in 1st grade that he hadn't already learned in a public school kindergarten in Charlotte. By second grade, he was behind in several skill areas that simply hand't been taught.

Third, reverse racism does exist. The school he attended was 4% white. He was called "white boy" constantly, and school staff admitted it occured without reprecussion. Apparantly the agenda of the staff wasn't without some bias too, as my son expressed shame in being white on several occassions. For a curriculum that ignored basic math skills, he spent an amazing amount of time on the civil rights movement and the atrocities of slavery.

The point to all of this is two part. The "build it and families will come" rhetoric certainly comes from residents without elementary school aged children. Also, just because a school is built in the neighborhood doesn't mean it will benefit the kids of the neighborhood. It is essentially a lottery based system, and this proposed school would be allowed to serve Brighton, Allston, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway, South End, Charlestown, and North End.
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:59 PM   #16
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Re: Schools

This all seems like a good argument for a charter school, which would give greater control to the neighborhood parents.
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Old 01-13-2009, 02:23 PM   #17
Jane Jetson
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Re: Gov't Center Garage Redevelopment

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Third, reverse racism does exist. The school he attended was 4% white. He was called "white boy" constantly, and school staff admitted it occured without reprecussion. Apparantly the agenda of the staff wasn't without some bias too, as my son expressed shame in being white on several occassions.
You may well have hit upon the main reason a school isn't being built in these neighborhoods. Why build a school for rich, white people?

By the way, even with the lottery system, isn't some weight given to proximity?

And if you don't mind, would you share with us your son's tuition?
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Old 01-13-2009, 02:52 PM   #18
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Re: Schools

Some proximity is given to proximity, but it is I believe 1/2 mile, and if I remember correctly only maybe half the seats are guaranteed to people who live in that ring. Living in Back Bay there is no school that is in that radius, though I do understand the desire for people in North End and West End to have a school here.

Tuition is about $19k/year....enough that it caused major compromises in allocating disposable income. I guess that's a fancy way of saying, though its worth it, it reduces quality of life.
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Old 01-13-2009, 03:17 PM   #19
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Re: Schools

What the government need to do is make endowment to the BPS system before they construct a new school unless it is private or a charter. There is a rally held at Faniuel Hall by the BPS school kids today during Menino's speech at around 6-8pm. Put some money in BPS to improve the quality first. Otherwise you will be just building another public school that is crap.
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Old 01-13-2009, 04:03 PM   #20
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Re: Schools

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This all seems like a good argument for a charter school, which would give greater control to the neighborhood parents.
Ron for head of the Teachers Union! Get your bumper stickers and yard signs ready now.
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