Excerpts from the Globe’s “Voices of New England’’ blog at
LATE-NIGHT TRANSIT MAKES BOSTON A WORLD-CLASS CITY
If Boston aspires to be one of the great cities of the world, it needs to look and operate like a great city. We’re one step closer. This spring the MBTA is launching its late-night service. It’s only a one-year pilot, but service on all subway lines, light rail, and 15 key bus routes will run until 3 a.m. on weekends, instead of shutting down at 1 a.m.
The change should be permanent. The first reason is the economy. If Boston is going to attract and retain the best young talent in America, we need to understand what they’re looking for. They need a transit system that gets them around the city.
The second reason is equity. Workers in the commercial third shift, at hospitals, or in hospitality need to get to work and they deserve public transportation.
The third reason is safety and public health. If Mayor Walsh rightly seeks to extend Boston’s night life, we need to make sure young adults get home safely.
While business and labor are often at odds, on this issue we are in accord. If we are to be a world-class city with the best talent, with access for workers to their jobs, and with regard for public safety and our environment, the MBTA’s extension of late-night service is a step in the right direction.
NARCOTICS ADDICTION CARRIES STIGMA OF OLD PREJUDICES
Massachusetts faces a tragic and unprecedented health care epidemic fueled from the rapid rise of addiction to powerful narcotics, which are plentiful and highly addictive. We have often been a leader in treating addiction problems in the past, but we are overwhelmed with the rapid rise and huge scale of this epidemic. Why?
We are failing to treat this crisis with the urgency and mobilization of resources it needs, because we are still not seeing this tragic epidemic for what it truly is. Addiction is a public health issue, but still carries the stigma of many of our outdated prejudices.
ARE OUR KIDS READY FOR COLLEGE?
Beginning this month, Massachusetts students in grades 3 to 11 are embarking on a two-year “test drive” of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a new computer-based assessment system that will help educators better gauge whether a student is ready for life after high school. A computer-based test will allow us to improve the ways that students can demonstrate academic knowledge and critical thinking, along with their application to real-world situations. Computers will allow students to complete performance-based tasks that better measure the range of skills that colleges and employers say are necessary for students to acquire.
PARCC’s development is aligned with the Common Core State Standards in English language arts, literacy, and mathematics. Adopted in 2010, the standards are comprehensive and academically demanding. We need a test capable of measuring student progress against these standards. PARCC has the potential to meet this goal.
A two-year “test drive” period will provide the state with time to work with school districts on securing funding to incorporate digital learning technologies, including the ability to administer online assessments. The results will inform our final decision in 2015 on whether to permanently replace MCAS with PARCC.