With funding boost, Mass. has unique opportunity to surpass status quo
The Globe correctly calls for urgency in getting students who have been affected by the pandemic-related educational disruption back on track (“Schools must make up for lost learning,” Editorial, Sept. 4). The strategies mentioned, and others such as high-intensity tutoring, have proved effective in restoring and accelerating student achievement. It is warranted that we use the billions in available education-designated federal COVID-relief dollars for this purpose and for meeting students’ social-emotional needs.
Still, this moment requires more. “The bold and creative changes” that the editorial calls for won’t happen if we simply hire more teachers and staff. Massachusetts has a unique opportunity, given the combination of new state funding for schools from the Student Opportunity Act and the federal dollars, to create systemic innovation that is sustainable, changing the dynamic for students struggling with college- and career-readiness.
We need greater boldness and innovation in education than has been contemplated, and a strong vision from state leaders, to move beyond the status quo, which hasn’t fully delivered for students, particularly in our traditional high schools. A move toward student-centered personalized instruction, with a focus on competencies and skills acquisition and less emphasis on seat time; a meaningful pathway for every student, with an expansion of access to early college and career technical programs; and hybrid scheduling utilizing technology, giving students flexibility to craft their schedules in pathways they care about — these are the changes necessary to ensure that our first-in-the-nation status moves beyond a single metric toward a more meaningful result for all.
The writer is a member of the board of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education.
Boston alternative high school knows a lot about reengaging students
The Globe’s editorial “Schools must make up for lost learning” shined a welcome light on the need for Boston to lean into alternative education. In addition to laying bare the structural inequities long plaguing the city, the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on Boston’s students and their families. We will eventually emerge from the COVID crisis, but the city and Boston Public Schools will continue to grapple with the reality that many students remain disconnected from school.
Boston Day and Evening Academy, an alternative BPS high school in Nubian Square, was founded to reengage learners who struggled academically due to challenges such as mental health, economic circumstances, family obligations, or not seeing the relevance of school to their lives. More than 95 percent of our students are from underserved communities, 98 percent are Black or brown, and more than 60 percent have mental health concerns. All of our students have attended at least one other school prior to enrolling.
We invest heavily in low staff-to-student ratio and match every student with a teacher adviser and Student Support Team member. Students’ needs go well beyond academics, so we leverage the vibrant nonprofit community of Roxbury to provide wraparound services. We know that students thrive when they have a vision for their future, so we offer robust post-graduate planning services and work-based learning opportunities.
Our students inspire us every day with their resilience, their unique gifts and talents, and a track record of results. Post-pandemic, and in years to come, we must provide all students with learning environments where they can thrive, not just to earn a high school diploma but also to become changemakers in this world.
Head of school
Boston Day and Evening Academy