The Globe reports the mayor threatened the company that runs the city school-bus system he's thinking of pulling its contract because so many school buses are still showing up at school late.
It couldn't possibly be related to the hideous traffic everywhere you go in Boston, could it? It must be the fault of the bus drivers.
He does live here, right?
With Menino, it's always someone else's fault, and the Globe almost always let's him get away with shifting the blame.
Also, check out Menino's dumb comments in the Carol Johnson article, even by Menino's low standards. He says those who oppose Johnson's ideas (like moving Latin Academy, I guess?) are "throwing rocks at her"- sort of an unfortunate metaphor given the city's history.
...people still read the Globe?
This website (UH) is one of my first stops every morning.
once they put mandatory registration for reading articles.
It couldn't possibly be related to the hideous traffic do to ALL THE LATE BUSSES .right?
related to to the fundamentally dumb idea of busing 40,000 students hither and yon around the city during rush hour, right?
If you're trying hard to figure out why the bus taking kids from East Boston to Allston at 8:40 AM is late so often, you're trying too hard.
the fact the buses are now being run by a private company trying to maximize its profits by eliminating drivers and consolidating routes, now could it?
Because it's such a good use of tax dollars to be woefully inefficient running public school bus system in the first place? The private sector isn't to blame here. It's BPS stupidity in general over the years.
All the money wasted on busing over the years could have built, staffed, and maintained world class public NEIGHBORHOOD schools.
Rich kids would get a good education
Poor kids would get a crappy education
My kid wouldn't have to go to school with THOSE kids
And all kids would be well prepared for jobs in their own neighborhood, only ...
Perhaps you should read up on the reasons people fought to end the segregated system? That story didn't start with busing, it started with horrendous inequalities.
with horrendous inequalities. Whither from here?
Well-meaning liberal from the suburbs is aghast that people who live in Boston might want the kids in their neighborhoods to go to school together instead of to a different school for each kid down the block.
Your kid already doesn't have to go to school with THESE kids. He's happily in school in the burbs with his own neighborhood kids.
Perhaps you should read up on the chasm between the theory and praxis of busing to reduce school segregation in Boston. It ended with horrendous inequalities.
Do you have an answer to the problems that arise from segregation when its all about neighborhood schools anywhere in the entire Boston area? If you think you can address the disparities that arise, what is your preferred scheme?
I don't disagree that busing started with horrendous inequalities ... and perpetuated them as well. I had young relatives in those schools in the early 80s. But that's because busing was fundamentally designed to pit the poor against the poor for what was always an inadequate pool of resources. Rather than upgrade the schools in the minority areas, the already too-small pot got split with the less affluent white populations.
That still doesn't get around the persistent segregation by neighborhood in Boston - and in the entire Boston area, really. Perhaps "area" schools would be better ... de link school boundaries from neighborhood boundaries and mix it up, changing boundaries in response to demographic shifts. Kids still go to schools nearby, just not based on enclaves.
My city just went through a consolidation of schools from "neighborhood" schools to four schools serving large areas, and those boundaries have moved as populations have changed. My kids have never gone to neighborhood schools. This was done in part because of segregation issues (economic and racial), and because of the need to build modern facilites.
Also ... suburban? I can see the Hancock and Pru from my dining room, and I may very well live closer to downtown than you do. Just because Boston is unusual in that it does not have much of its densely populated urban area to the north and south within its physical borders, doesn't make where I live suburban in any meaningful demographic context. When people in my field classify areal units for health studies, my census tract is classified as "urban" based on population density.
I am willing to stipulate that desegregation is an unambivalent good in and of itself.
On that basis, busing has been very bad for Boston. According to the measures used at the time, school segregation in the Boston area is greater today than it was when busing began. Returning to the levels that indicated emergency in the 70s would be a reduction in the degree of racial segregation in Boston's schools today.
The degree of "racial imbalance" - defined then as not matching the demographics of the city at large - has increased. Many schools in Boston today have 97-99% nonwhite population. They would have been closed down for this in the sixties, but there is no remedy for this in the current system, as the overall school population is much more racially imbalanced vis-a-vis the population of Boston at large, and we're plumb out of majority white schools to divvy them up to. Now we just pretend it's a good thing, or empowering, or some such nonsense.
Segregation and racial imbalance increased as a direct result of the forced busing program, and continue in part because of the ongoing lottery/busing system. Returning to neighborhood schools would likely result in less segregation and racial imbalance in Boston public schools, as compared to their current degree of segregation.
The neighborhoods themselves are more integrated than they were in the 60's and 70's, and people both like to know where their kids are going to school, and are happy to have their kids go to school with their neighbor's kids.
Currently, people with greater means - which, as you know, skews white - have the ability to choose private or parochial schools for their children, and do so overwhelmingly, especially after lottery failure or in the middle grades. Some people with means also move out of the city after lottery failure, a choice less available to people without means. In this way, the continuation of the lottery penalizes the poor and minorities by preventing them from attending racially balanced schools that reflect our communities.
If people with means could be certain of their child's attendance at a neighborhood school with neighborhood kids, they'd be more likely to use the BPS. This would result in a reduction in racial imbalance in the BPS system, improved property values, and greater public involvement in the schools. Fewer minority children would attend segregated schools than do so today, and minority and poor children would suffer less from the imposition of lost school time because of busing delays.
Busing, "school choice," and the lottery, as currently existent in the City of Boston, perpetuate racial segregation and imbalance and penalize the poor and racial minorities through unequal access to public education. In the name of fairness and racial harmony, Boston should return to a neighborhood school system.
Any other problems you need fixed?
Also... yes, suburban. Get over it already.
What part of "instead of using money to pay for busing the money should have been used to FIX THE NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS" did you not understand?
Bring back Judge Garrity, from Lexington. He was really good for the Boston School system, right?
I was there, thank you, while it was happening. The opening scene in The Departed was my daily existence and my evening news on a regular loop.
I have news for you--everyone, rich, poor, black, white, Hispanic, got a crappy education. Garrity and bussing did as much damage to this town as Louise Day Hicks and defacto segregation did. Sometimes a bigger hammer just isn' the right answer.
All of these things, now could it?
...I guess it could possibly be.
Bring back Neighborhood schools.
Yeah! 'Cause, FUCK those poor kids! What audacity they're showing, being born and living in poor neighborhoods! They should definitely be subjected to 12 years of terrible schools, which are terrible because they are in terrible neighborhoods and hire terrible teachers, to punish them for their hubris. Then, when they're 16 and drop out of school, we can pat ourselves on the backs for teaching them a thing or two! And then, we can spend the rest of our lives making self-congratulatory posts on internet message boards about what leeches they are for being on welfare is, and how they should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and go be affluent and white in the suburbs!
While I appreciate your sarcasm, I'd urge you to relax just a little bit. Being for Neighborhood schools doesnt necessarily equal anti-poor or racist thinking--as most people will tell you, the BPS system is over 90% minority at this point. It doesn't matter if you go to school in Brighton or Charlestown or roslindale--your school is going to be mostly minority and mostly poor. After years in the system, both as a kid and as a parent, I truly wish that we could find a way back to neighborhood schools for a multitude of complex reasons--increased parental involvement in schools, tighter neighborhood bonds with the schools, less money and time spent busing kids literally across the city. Most of all, I agree that less uncertainty and insecurity about school assignments would slow or stop the flight of middle class families of all colors to private, Catholic, and suburban schools, via METCO or moving. The racial/economic mix is almost a moot point right now because the Russian roulette style of school choice drives out so many families. So anyway--it's a complex issue--take a few deep breaths.
While I strongly agree that busing is a failed policy, be careful about hyperbolizing the statistics. The non-caucasian population of the BPS is high, but not "over 90%". It's about 85% at this point and the breakdown of current K-5 students imply that it may shift down further over the next decade. Also enrollment at the elementary level has flattened and now recently increased slightly - a few percentage points overall, but still worth noting.
These are just nitpicks, and in no way diminish the urgency so many feel about changing the current broken, expensive system. Actually, I feel that the trends in the last deacde's numbers may indicate a bit of a sea-change taking place among Bostonians - and that might mean the possibility of addressing the busing mess in a fair and equitable manner is higher than it's been in a long time. Yes, there's still a few too many old-fashioned bigots and trolls around (as most of us here at UH can unfortunately attest) - but there's a lot of people who want to see all the city's schools do better and grimace at the time and resources that pour into big yellow money burners, instead of classroom supplies and supports for students and teachers.
In any case, I think the numbers I was even thinking of are probably ten years old. My impressions are in large part anecdotal anyway, but I think it's hard to quantify the effects of that lottery feeling on parents. We managed to navigate our way through the BPS with some success, but too many parents quit--they feel as if they're gambling on their kids education, and I think they just feel less connected to the schools, especially when they have to travel from East Boston to Brighton, say, to attend a teacher meeting or a school play. The high-quality schools that I've seen--and again, this is just my impression--are the ones where the neighborhood and the parents feel some sense of ownership and connection and have worked hard to improve the school. I suspect--and maybe this is naive--that this would work in Mattapan as well as the North End. And if there were still options for parents who wanted to bus their kids, then maybe that would alleviate the anxiety that some families clearly still feel about being cut off or segregated somehow.
The racism inherent in the claim that it's unfair to make kids who live in poor neighborhoods go to school with their neighbors really bothers me.
That's the assumption you're expressing, beneath all the rage and profanity: that the most unfair thing about being a poor minority kid is that your classmates may also be poor minority kids. Do you really thing that's such a terrible thing?
There is no reason that a Boston public school should only be able to hire a bad teacher because it is in a poor neighborhood. Most teachers will be happy to work with a challenging population.
One of the growing number of plans Carol Johnson was forced to pull back on was her initial plan to reduce busing costs by increasing the number of school-assignment zones because one of the zones basically would have consisted mainly of underperforming schools concentrated in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan. BPS even has some cutesy name for this ("Circle of Promise," is it?)
The geography may have been unfortunate, but at the same time, sorry, it would would be unfair to parents in that zone to tell them they no longer had a shot at schools that are already performing better just so the city could save on busing costs.
It does make things look more unfortunate than they are when you draw a circle around a part of a city that happens to be largely minority and impoverished and say 'all you kids here, you stay in here.' I am opposed to creating such a zone, and even more opposed to creating a cutesy euphemism for it. However, saying to all the kids 'just go to the nearest school' is different, especially if you back it up by making sure there is a nearest school.
Carol Johnson is going to take a lot of fire no matter what she does. Close the Agassiz. Open the Agassiz. Move the Agassiz. It doesn't matter: fire results. She should choose to take fire for doing something productive instead of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
I question the idea that the schools in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan are all underperforming. What's the basis for the assertion? The basis for such an assertion is usually that the kids who go to the 'underperforming' schools have done more poorly on some standardized tests or other. Well, look, America is not a land of equality. It's hard to be poor. If you make a standardized test whose results don't reflect this hardship, you have made a bad test. If you aggregate the demonstration of this hardship and conclude that the schools suck (rather than that inequality exists), then you're making a poor jump of reasoning.
The most compelling arguments made in the days of attempted desegregation were that the schools receiving a racial imbalance on the darker side were poorer than those imbalanced on the other side. These arguments were made on objective bases, such as money per student, books per student, teachers per student. They were correct, and it was scandalous. Today, however, these arguments are no longer valid. It is a certainty that the average dollar amount spent to educate a poor African-American child in the BPS is significantly greater than the average amount spent to educate a middle-class white child. And there are very good reasons for that: typically, these students need more help, because of higher rates of learning disability, ESL, etc. This extra money is money well spent. And if you need 70 million more of it, I know where it is.
The extra money spent on busing kids willy-nilly about the city is poorly spent. If spent wisely, it could assure that schools in areas with higher rates of poverty and other difficulties had the resources they need to provide for their student population. Extra paras, extra libraries, extra field trips. This is what is being given up for the false promise of equality suggested by "choice."
Classic Tom Menino. Pass the buck, make his lieutenants take the hit and he's off scott free, mainly because what passes for daily newspapers in this town enable him to do it over and over again.
Tommy is in for a rude awakening on Nov. 8. His hand-picked candidate in District 3 is going down hard because the people in Dorchester have finally had it with the mayor's song and dance. He's got enough power as it is and over the last two years it's been one fiasco after another: libraries, community centers, schools, buses. He can't get it right. Time for a change.
If traffic is too heavy for the way they've scheduled the buses, then the buses need to be sent early enough to accommodate that reality.
But here's what I see in my neighborhood: buses that have completed the pre-8:30 arrival drop-offs park along side streets and do nothing. Why aren't they out collecting kids for the 9:30 drop-off? Are they actually scheduled for a break during the three hour crush?
When did Fung Wah get the school bus contract?
What's the mayor calling this crackdown? Operation "Sit Down and Shut Up"? Are the scooters and Segways to blame for this somehow? Are they late because of new detours intended to keep the kids from witnessing all the drug use and sex in Dewey Square? How many kids have been lost to the blasé coyote because they didn't get on the bus on time?
Screw the schoolkids...why can't *I* get a bus to pick me up and get me to Cambridge on time!? When is the mayor going to crackdown on the MBTA's inability to hold to its schedule?
I'm guessing someone at City Hall has watched this a few too many times on WGBH and has a distorted view of how the buses get to and fro in the morning.
The wheels on the political machine go round and round, up and down...all around the town.
It's not segways, detours from Dewey Square, or coyotes.
It's the bike lanes.
Are you saying the tour buses are parking in the bike lanes so that the school buses can't pick up the kids on time? Or is it that the school buses are having to merge over into the bike lanes before making right turns thus losing precious seconds and becoming late? Or is it that the bike lanes are taking up precious road space that used to be lanes for cars which means the buses are getting stuck in greater amounts of traffic because of the bike lanes??
Damn you, BIKE LANES!!!
They put in brand new lights a few years back on the RKG and Atlantic Ave.
None of them are computerized smart lights or are synced to work with each other.
They're all on timers and work independently and can create some massive backups during rush hours or busy times.
This city needs to start thinking of itself in the 21st century. Having a mayor perpetually stuck in the 1980's isn't helping.
on a related note (1980's mentality for city infrastructure), it's comical that in "America's Walking City" pedestrians have to press a button to gain permission to cross the street. My friends from cities like Chicago, New York, and, um, Cambridge have all commented on how archaic that is.
where walk signals on side streets are activated at 4am, with no pedestrians in sight.
When the pedestrian signal goes, the drivers can go (concurrent signaling) That's the standard in Cambridge, if you saw a dedicated pedestrian phase signal it a) was broken and if you call CPW they'll fix it or b) it doesn't belong to Cambridge (Mass Dot, or DCR still do it that way).
There's an app for that...
It's like they're just casually tossing the pedestrians out in front of you...
There are a few lights owned by Cambridge which intentionally still have 4-way walk phases, notably the light at Mass Ave and Route 16 at the Arlington border. (Yes, the light is owned by Cambridge, even though Route 16 is owned by the DCR.)
I've complained several times, but the current traffic-jam-inducing setup is the way they want it.
I used to commute to high school through there in the late 80s when the walk lights were on at the same time as the cars were allowed to go. A woman spent what seemed like years wearing a sign at that intersection trying to get a dedicated pedestrian light - my family figured she must have had a loved one maimed or killed at that intersection. We considered it a great (if yes, traffic inducing) improvement that the lights were fixed to allow dedicated pedestrian crossing times so that that woman could finally go home.
on time or at least more reliable in past years. It's not just about traffic or the fact that some kids have to ride from one side of the city to the other. They've been doing this successfully for years. But this new bus consolidation plan and the new "routing software" is really, really messing things up. I hope Menino is willing to take responsibility and not (pardon pun) throw the Superintendent under the bus when she has been under pressure to reduce transportation costs.
Don't count on it. Menino has never once been held accountable for his screw-ups, even though every soul in city government knows that there's not a single decision that comes out of the administration without his ok.
1) Elect Menino again, idiots. Fill in the oval next to the "D" like it's a coloring book. Garbage in, garbage out. And yes, I know Boston elections are non-partisan. But he's still a Democrat, and you know it.
2) I still have yet to understand what the location of the school has to do with the quality of the school. Do suburban schools really have much larger budgets to hire the best personnel than Boston schools? I'm really not an expert on this. What metric exists to evaluate teachers? How large is the chasm between the best teacher and the worst teacher?
It doesn't matter if you come from money, or if you're the spawn of a single parent working two jobs: All kids have a brain, and two plus two is four for everybody. Half of education is things that we as an intellectual society agree on, math and science.
The difference would come in English and history class, where the child of an immigrant in Dorchester might have a different approach to spoken and written English than that of a child born in the U.S. and living in suburban Boston. And even then, the schoolteacher doesn't necessarily live in the district where (s)he teaches.
So what's the real impasse here? Is it determining the chasm between the very best teacher and the very worst teacher? That sounds like hard work. Maybe that's why we had busing in the first place: Why identify who the best people are in our community to disseminate knowledge of fractions and sentence structure when we can just stick a kid on a five mile bus ride and tell ourselves that this will fix the problem?
...if that's not that last word on this subject I don't know what is.
(Provided you were hoping the last word to actually be a whole string of them put together in an incoherent mess.)