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Boston Latin School head to leave


Rachel Skerritt today announced her resignation at the end of the school year as Boston Latin School head of school.

In e-mail to BLS students, families and staff this afternoon, Skerritt wrote, first of the challenges of Covid-19 atop the challenges of life at the exam school, then continued:

These reflections have led me to the decision that this fifth year in my role as head of school will be my last one, concluding my tenure at the end of this academic year. I make this announcement with a heavy heart, but one full of hope about what lies ahead. The responsibility of leading and stewarding this community full of beautiful people with vibrant minds and tremendous promise has been an enormous honor. I beam with pride watching our students excel in the classroom. I marvel at their performances on the stage, the athletic field, and in competitions ranging from Mock Trial to Model UN to MathCounts to the Mingus Festival. I am inspired by the way they live our mission as responsible and engaged global citizens, contributing to their communities in countless ways. Guided by our team of talented faculty and staff members who thoughtfully nurture their learning and personal growth, our students’ achievements humble us and motivate us every day. These points of Boston Latin School pride will flourish in the years ahead, just as they have over the centuries of our accomplished history, but now is the right time for transition.

She added:

I look to the next few months with great enthusiasm. There is hard work yet to be done before we celebrate and say farewell when summer comes. This includes working with district colleagues to ensure the thoughtful selection of Latin School’s next school leader - more on that as details become available. For now, let us focus on what’s before us today and strive to cap off the year with energy, pride, joy, and our characteristic commitment to one another and to alma mater.

Skerritt, herself a BLS alum, will leave at the same time as School Superintendent Brenda Cassellius, also resigning at the end of the school year.

Skerritt came to BLS from Washington, DC, where she was deputy chief of leadership development for that city's school system. But before that, she worked for BPS, including several years as an English teacher at BLS.

Skerritt became the first person of color to lead BLS in a history dating to 1635 - and the school's 28th headmaster, a title that was changed to head of school during her tenure.



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Could she be the next School Superintendent?

Voting closed 33

I can't keep up with the resignations and hires.

Voting closed 34

..motivated and talented why would you want to work within BPS?

BPS suffers from attracting top talent and black and brown kids suffer because of this.

The teachers union is to blame.

- A BPS Volunteer and Parent for over 10 years.

Voting closed 15

She was one of the only people with common sense on the exam school task force.Bailout before the demise of the school. Exam schools will be like any other bps school soon.

Voting closed 77

The word "bailout" makes it sound like a frustration with something that won't change at the job. That sucks.

Voting closed 17

Rachel Skerrit is a superstar in a very dysfunctional system, hardworking ethical and compassionate. Boston’s loss

Voting closed 49

It would be more surprising if someone who is hardworking, ethical, and compassionate could put up with the BPS follies for very long. She can probably get a job at a functional school whenever she wants one.

Voting closed 37

Skerritt opposed the shift away from merit based admissions. It’s not a surprise that BPS lost another thoughtful, passionate educator in the midst of this political debacle.

Voting closed 29

Will she be the next BPS Superintendent?

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She is either walking or being forced off the gangplank of a foundering ship.

RS has been a quality leader through a very difficult time at BLS. Her long affiliation with the school from time as a student, then a teacher and now the leader has probably instilled in her a connection to the place with which she is now conflicted. The mayor and superintendent and now she are all out and a new cloud of BDS is taking over in the WUstorm.

I have one child graduate, one soon to follow and a sixie for whom I am quite concerned. I'm surprised it hasn't yet made it into the public blogosphere, but more than a month ago there was an assembly held for the sixie class advising them that if the year ended that week half the class would have to repeat rather than advance. That is the first class admitted under the new "I hate WROX WP's" BDS policy. And the kids are failing. My kid is not, but the experience is very different than that of the older siblings. I think RS feels the same as us, and we are worried.

Who among us believes it will be politically possible for the school to honor its own standards over centuries and force those kids to repeat? RS obviously knows she will have to pass them along, and therefore obliviate the standards she knows helped her become the woman she is today. She knows passing those kids does not help them and it harms not only them but the entire Boston community. But politically she will not be permitted to fail those who are receiving failing grades.

Much like any politician who is facing a reelection campaign they realize is likely to end in defeat, she is bowing out to care for her family's best interest. Which I'm sure is also true.

But make no mistake, BLS, and Boston will suffer the repercussions.

Voting closed 129

Thank you, thank you, thank you for ALL that you said, Terrapin.

BPS is a sinking ship. BLS is ruined. Everyone is scrambling.

The ideological social justice warriors are to blame. They really should feel like shit about all that has gone down at the exam schools. Families have received their private/parochial acceptance letters. BPS won't send out exam school letters until early May - well after deposits are due at alternatives. BPS is doing everything they can to push the middle and upper class out. This is not equity!

Today feels like a bookend on BPS to me. I would not discourage anyone from jumping ship. Feels clear to me that BPS is a lost cause - if it were a ship it is one with a crew so determined to steer it strait into the iceberg.

Voting closed 99

Feels clear to me that BPS is a lost cause

Really? You're just saying that because you feel that Latin is a sinking ship, I highly doubt you know a thing about BPS except of course for Latin, which in my opinion is essentially not a BPS school... I mean hell, BLS doesn't even associate with the rest of Boston schools. They play sports in their own freaking league (devoid of any boston high schools) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_County_League Look at those towns in that division, no way in hell they would associate with the other boston high schools, let alone play a football game at White stadium.

Let's be real here, BPS is a ship that has sank already... don't go equating that BLS=BPS.

Voting closed 30

Because I smell BS.

Latin plays in the DCL because the rest of the Boston high schools were sick of Latin winning nearly everything in the 70's in the City League. The other AD's asked them to seek out other competition and they did. Also, if yow saw Latin's athletic facilities in the 80's, they were way, way below those at what was then English, then West Roxbury, Charlestown, then JPHS, and Madison Park, which all had far newer schools (and in some cases pools). Latin's caf looked like the one from the Shawshank Redemption until the late 90's.

The amount of failures / time to repeat is a sign of the times that Latin wants kids to succeed and stay. Hopefully, That's good. It was very rare when I was there for a kid to repeat. You were pushed out the door and told to go to another school. There were kids in my grade who failed and went onto become straight A students at other high schools both public and private. Then again, my class had a 45% attrition rate. If you can't cut it, get out. Welcome to life.

Please, please, please do not put out all the blame on the "social justice warriors" for this mess, though they were the unwilling ground troops, but like those idiot truckers in Canada and DC, there is conservative money, in this case charter school money, behind this effort to demonize the school. I won't name any names because that would make the legal bar (Did I spell that right?) too high to prove.

It is not accident that the Globe whose efforts to say that Latin is the mouse out in the corner of the yard and that's really bad while the house was hit by a comet and is on fire may or may not be having its coverage of BPS underwritten by these same people. Hell, the Globe is running stories that say "Perhaps It's Time For Receivership at BPS" aren't they?

Nice job to those Beacon Hill / S'conset types, who have done the slow burn ingraining that excellence is bad and everyone is equal sentiment into your heads so they can use you for their nefarious, but in their minds, perfectly perfect way of thinking. This is now two Heads of School they can notch into their embroidered belts.

Good luck to Rachael. She is a great person. It took almost 387 years but it looks like the Too Stupid To Get Into Latin crowd has hooked up with the Charter School monsters and might win. It was a good run.

Realtors in Westwood, Hingham, Milton, Arlington, Winchester, Norwell, are going to love this.

Voting closed 57

… you post something worth reading.

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... towards BLS has always mystified me.

The fact that almost no civic leaders (black, white, hispanic, or otherwise) strongly advocates for improving the entire school system (including all the high schools) also mystifies me. Why is no one pushing to create more exam-school-level high schools -- since the number of spots appear insufficient?

Voting closed 66

Thank you Mr. Kerpan! Tu es optimus. Filius meus genus tuum amat. Ite Boston Scholae Latinae!

Voting closed 26

My Latin is 50+ years "out of date" -- one of my sons is the Latin teacher. ;-)

Voting closed 18

You hit on a key point - that simply expanding the number of exam school seats has never been considered. There were only 1600 6th graders with a B or above under the zip code plan, and only 1690 the year prior. There will almost certainly be fewer this year. But if BPS expanded the 1000 available seats, it would allow kids from West Roxbury, from private and parochial schools, and from the Eliot to continue to enroll in BLS.

You may have noticed that BPS and policy proponents have nothing but contempt for these students and their families and want them gone.

Voting closed 14

We need a state-run math and science magnet school in Boston. BPS will never be able to offer what the city needs.

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but more than a month ago there was an assembly held for the sixie class advising them that if the year ended that week half the class would have to repeat rather than advance.

Back in the day we got the look to your left, look to your right, half of you won't be here speech the very first day of school, and it was spot on. That actually sounds a bit softer than what we got.

Voting closed 19

I remember that speech vividly and it was true. While it seemed harsh at the time, I realize now what a good life lesson it was. Not everyone will make the cut. You have to work hard. College was a breeze for me after BLS. Those teachers, specifically- Ms. Skerritt taught me organizational, study, and life skills that remain with me today. I still date my notes in the way Ms. Skerritt taught be in 7th grade….Wow! Somethings will always stay with you. I also got my first “bad grade” from her. It helped build my character and helped to understand that I wasn’t always going to be the best at something, but I did have to work hard. I accredit my current success to the former standards of BLS. So many things in this current “woke” world are changing. It’s sad to see an institution like that go down the drain. I wish her the best in everything. She will always be a role model to me.

Voting closed 11

For the other shoe to drop...

Voting closed 20

any relation to roosevelt skerritt ?

Voting closed 13

I have two kids that go to Bps, at the Roosevelt in HP. I really want to keep them in the public school system as my wife is a public school teacher at a school in the burbs but it's looking like an uphill battle. Our kids schools don't even have a library! The teachers are great, the principal is not great, sad to say. I really hope BPS pulls a rabbit out of a hat and gets an amazing new superintendant but BPS needs the addition of behavorial services for kids that aren't getting what they need at home. Fingers crossed....

Voting closed 35

BLS is not the same school anymore. Parents report that students have been assigned to read one book in English class in 5 months (and it was a graphic novel). Many students are failing (despite the school offering 3 hours of tutoring every day after school). The problem is particularly bad in the math sections. Many new students are so far behind in math they cannot even begin to tackle pre-algebra.

Fights are breaking out at BLS and teachers report there are many, many discipline problems this year. Teachers are burnt out and discouraged. One administrator reported that many of the new students do not have the intrinsic motivation and desire to work hard that was typical of prior classes.

Rachel Skerritt was very vocal in the exam school task force meetings that an exam was needed to make sure that students coming to the exam schools were prepared to do the work. This sentiment was also expressed strongly by Michael Contompasis and Dr. Tanya Freeman-Wisdom (the O'Bryant headmaster).

It looks like Ms. Skerritt had a huge problem dumped in her lap, and she saw the writing on the wall. It is only going to get worse as BPS pushes more unprepared students into the exam schools, and expects the schools to bring them up-to-speed after years of them falling further and further behind.

It is a shame that one of the best high schools in the country is rapidly falling apart!

Voting closed 42

It’s even more of a shame that BLS is nowhere near being one of the best schools in the country (e.g Stuyvesant, Thomas Jefferson), and this incessant squabbling over which Boston kids get to go to it will prevent it from ever improving.

Sure, it’s the best public high school in Boston, but that’s not saying much.

Boston kids deserve better.

Voting closed 18

*Citation Needed

Voting closed 15