Loconto’s troubling comment doesn’t erase his bold move toward equity
Re Adrian Walker’s Oct. 23 front-page commentary “On a night for diversity, a blow to it.”
I have known Michael Loconto for more than 20 years, going back to when we were first-year students in law school. In all that time he has been a valued friend to me, and I say that as a graduate of Boston Latin School who also happens to be Black. While I was deeply troubled by his comment at the Boston School Committee hearing last week (“Official quits after mocking Asian names at meeting,” Page A1, Oct. 23), I am also confident in saying that it is not reflective of the measure of the man I know.
As Walker astutely pointed out, that same night saw the passage of a truly transformative admissions policy that hopefully will begin to restore a more equitable balance in Boston Latin’s enrollment that will more closely reflect the makeup of the city it serves.
My immigrant parents worked hard to see me educated but were without the means to pay for prep courses and tutors for the test that was administered more than 30 years ago. I was grateful for the opportunity that BLS afforded me and for the race-conscious set-asides at the time that the old admissions policy created.
Since that policy was abolished in the late 1990s, we have seen BLS grow increasingly out of synch with the makeup of the city. Meanwhile, politicians wring their hands, afraid to make bold decisions to change it.
Loconto led a bold move toward equity. That is the man I knew outside of the lights of public gaze. I hope that others, including his critics, take the time to acknowledge that.
Quaime V. Lee
Without widespread gains, communities of color will continue to struggle
The debate over changing Boston’s exam school admissions procedures has been difficult in the Asian American communities. Asian Americans are disproportionately represented in exam schools, and yet many of us are keenly aware that our progress is linked to the fight for equity for all people of color.
We are glad that chairman Michael Loconto was quickly removed for his racist and insensitive action of mocking the names of Chinese Americans during a virtual Boston School Committee meeting, after much of the meeting had gone on without Cantonese or Mandarin interpretation. Unfortunately, that has not addressed the educational struggles of communities of color.
Until the educational opportunity of every Boston Public Schools student is improved, the exam school controversy is a losing race. Current inequity of resources and opportunities creates a mentality of scarcity. Unlike the portrayal in a movie such as “Crazy Rich Asians,” many Asian American BPS students are children of restaurant, hotel, home care, and nail salon workers. The overwhelming focus of linking success to gaining access to exam schools stems from the entrance exam culture that has long been embedded in Asian countries.
As progressive Asian Americans, we are in favor of reforms that lead to increased diversity, improved access for Black and Latinx communities, excellence in every school for every BPS student, priority given both to students who have already been attending BPS prior to applying to exam schools and to low-income families (in public housing), regardless of what ZIP code they live in.
Boston Public Schools teacher
Boston Teachers Union
Both writers are members of the Massachusetts Asian American Educators Association.