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Blackstone school should not be held up as an example of BPS’s districtwide woes

The Nov. 15 installment in “The Great Divide,” the Globe’s ongoing series on race, class, and opportunity in our schools, explored difficulties faced by Boston Public Schools English learners (“Students learning English are getting left behind,” Page A1, Nov. 15). Although the article focused on many BPS-wide issues, the article offered only one student perspective: that of a student enrolled at the Blackstone Elementary School for the past year.

As community supporters of the Blackstone, we do not believe that the article fairly represented the school or that this school should serve as an example for broader, districtwide concerns. Just two months earlier, another Blackstone parent lauded efforts by a pre-K educator at the school to communicate in Spanish and guide her family through the BPS system. The Blackstone offers translation services and bilingual staff at all grade levels, at family events (such as this month’s curriculum night), and at Parent Council meetings.


Facing demand unique in the district, the school devotes extra resources to these efforts. Last year, 88 percent of Blackstone’s kindergarten students were classified as “high needs” (it’s 77 percent overall in BPS). For all grades, 56 percent of the school’s students speak a first language that is not English (8 points higher than BPS overall), and 51 percent are English-language learners, as compared with 29 percent across the BPS system. The Blackstone community benefits from this diversity of family and learning backgrounds, and it should not be held up as an example for districtwide criticism.

Our call to action for the Blackstone’s South End community is to redouble efforts to support the school.

William Wolff


Friends of Blackstone School