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Peering through the opportunity gap in our public schools

Britney Mendez (center) made her way between classes at Brighton High School.
Britney Mendez (center) made her way between classes at Brighton High School.JESSICA RINALDI/GLOBE STAFF

Inequity sets progressive voter thinking

Reading “The great divide” (Page A1, Sept. 15), the portrait of Newton South and Brighton High School, had me in tears of sadness and frustration. As a retired teacher, I applaud the dedicated teachers at Brighton High who work so hard to support their students. As a mother and a grandmother, I’m aware of how lucky my family is to have access to a good education. And as a former school committee member, I’m well aware of the financial pressures on school districts across the state struggling to meet the needs of increasingly diverse populations.

Mostly, though, I find myself reacting as a progressive voter. I wonder how many of these bright young people would be more invested in school if the prospect of a free public university education awaited them? I wonder how many could quit those night jobs if their families had guaranteed health insurance? I’ll be thinking of all of them as I vote in the upcoming presidental election.

Karen Shiebler



Beacon Hill right to focus on funding

I appreciate Malcolm Gay and Jenna Russell’s extensive reporting on the inequities that students at Brighton High face relative to their peers at Newton South (“The great divide”). However, I take issue with their implication that Boston’s relatively robust spending means that Beacon Hill’s current focus on education funding might be futile.

First, the Boston Public Schools could use more funding for strategies to address the deeper inequalities that the article chronicles: English language instruction, family engagement, social emotional needs. The article does a great job highlighting why these supports are in such greater need in Boston than in Newton. Why shouldn’t Boston’s per pupil spending be much higher?

Second, the crux of the debate on Beacon Hill is about communities, such as Gateway Cities, that don’t have the resources to fund schools the way that Newton or Boston can. I serve on the School Committee in Lynn, where our per pupil spending is more than $5,000 less than Newton’s. Our students face barriers similar to those of Boston students. How we can we tolerate our students’ education getting 30 percent less funding than that of Newton students?


The article’s implication that the funding questions currently being debated on Beacon Hill are not central to the goal of eliminating educational inequities is a disservice to this important issue.

Jared C. Nicholson


Opportunity should not end at town line

The first installment in your series on inequalities in our public education system identifies the two most relevant issues right up front.

First, it clearly shows the error and unfairness of using town lines in making education decisions. Town lines have been most useful historically for keeping people out of (or maybe in) certain geographical areas. Today’s technology, with no physical boundaries, basically has retired that concept.

Second, why do we continue to force public school parents and children into schools they don’t want to go to? Open up schools everywhere to everyone, regardless of where they live.

Robert W. Consalvo

Hyde Park

Robert Guen

Jamaica Plain

The writers are cofounders of the Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter Public School in Hyde Park.