Guest Op-Ed: Outside the Box for Our Students

By Gabriela Coletta

At this moment, there are many uncertainties surrounding BPS: a new superintendent, state intervention, elected school committee, and high resignation of school officials. The challenges BPS faces are structural and require proven leadership with the ability to focus on big picture strategy while also executing the day-to-day operations that serve families every day. A new superintendent must look towards the future in a post-pandemic world where our schools are fully recovering by utilizing Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds for targeted programs, prioritizing investments in facilities, addressing declining enrollment patterns, and eliminating achievement gaps. And most importantly, the new leader of BPS should be wholeheartedly focused on teaching and learning, as well as the experience of our students in each school and in every classroom.

Rapidly deteriorating Boston Public School facilities are a relic of mid-20th Century growth in the City of Boston. As a BPS student, I walked the hallways of four different schools that provided broken drinking fountains or fountains with lead water, bathrooms that were unusable, and classrooms that were physically crumbling. It’s clear we are past time for the city to present the Boston School Committee, the new Superintendent, and the Boston City Council with a budget for a facilities overhaul.

A prospectus was recently submitted to the Boston School Committee to designate Charlestown High School as an innovation school that would provide administrators full autonomy of its budget, policies, and curriculum. There were many strengths in the proposal that expanded career and college readiness through dual enrollment and AP classes, individualized learning plans, and created pathways for D1 students to address declining enrollment in our school system.

While the school committee ultimately rejected the proposal and created a task force, all stakeholders agreed that we must activate all voices in this process, build trust in the Charlestown community, accelerate learning, and center equity. We can identify a path forward that builds on the strengths of this proposal while planning for the inclusion of all families in the discussion to ultimately improve the quality of education at Charlestown High.

BPS should be creating the conditions that allow young people to shine their brightest light. We need human investment: Developing a pipeline of educators and future leaders; expanding early learning opportunities; partnering with higher education and local organizations to leverage our collective dedication to students. We need to focus on the future of learning in ways that meet the needs of our students and prepares them for the future of work in our ever-evolving society.

As a proud product of four Boston Public Schools, I know that quality, free, and local education is a necessity for any child’s chance in the world to achieve their fullest potential. The public schools in District One are working hard to provide quality education but students, parents, and teachers need targeted investments and support from our city government. As your next City Councilor, I will be a champion for public education across the district and for all Bostonians.

Gabriela Coletta is a Candidate for Boston City Council, District 1.

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