April 14, 2014
"As a Boston Public Schools parent, I get the urgent need for more quality options. Charters have a place at the education table. But is it too much to ask that politicians pause to look in the eyes of the families of children who attend Boston and other district public schools? They will find no disdain for charter families there. They will see determination to stop charters from taking a disproportionate share of state education aid. This year alone, Boston lost $87.5 million in state aid, and that was just to approximately two dozen charters. The figure will ascend to terrifying heights if the charter cap is lifted.
Politicians will also see anger at the charter lobby for labeling our city’s public schools failures. It reminds me of a bully, grabbing our kids’ lunch money while taunting “nanny, nanny, boo boo, our schools are better.” Traditional public schools are not failing. They deserve support, not scorn. Many Boston Public Schools excel in growth and achievement on state tests, from Orchard Gardens, to Boston Latin Academy, my daughter’s school, which last year had the highest tenth grade scores in the state.
I have other reasons to be proud of my children’s schools. Boston Arts Academy admits students who have struggled academically, engages their creative passions, and sends 94 percent, my senior included, on to college. Two of my children graduated from an elementary school that offers rigorous advanced work classes for students whose first language is Spanish. My son’s current school, the Washington Irving, provides students with disabilities an environment where they can succeed.
In important ways, district schools succeed where charters fail. Take those special needs students at my son’s school. They make up 27.8 percent of our student body. Quite a few are former charter students, some from a school up the street. Charter lobbyists tout that school, the Edward Brooke, as a slam-dunk success. They won’t tell you that the Brooke’s student population includes just 6.9 percent students with disabilities, and an astoundingly low 1 percent English language-learners.
It’s long past time to look those English language learners in the eye. Ride the MBTA Blue Line to East Boston, and visit the Patrick J. Kennedy School, where 70 percent of students are learning English. Then go up the street to Excel Academy charter. Take a look at Excel’s 6.2 percent ELL population, and tell me that charters serve the same students as district schools.
Charters are known for “no excuses” discipline, giving demerits for mismatched socks. How about demerits for inequity? Where is the outrage over the nearly 40 percent suspension rate at Boston’s City on a Hill charter? When will charters admit that their high school graduation rates hide huge attrition, especially acute for boys of color?
Finally, when will politicians take responsibility for the negative impact charters have on urban districts and families? Our eyes are ringed with worry. We’re hemorrhaging, losing social workers, paraprofessionals, enrichment opportunities, safe transportation, and chances for our children to thrive.
The money charters snatch for schools that serve far, far, fewer of our state’s most vulnerable students isn’t the only thing draining us. But it’s a steady stream now. What will happen if we open the floodgates to even more such schools?"

‘We’re real parents in a real crisis’

April 14, 2014
Performance Review: Sesame Street Live - “Elmo Makes Music”

Performance Review: Sesame Street Live – “Elmo Makes Music”

My daughter Kay & I took in the performance of Sesame Street Live – “Elmo Makes Music” at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre on April 12 at 5:30.  I am a long time devotee of Sesame Street.  Kay is very fond of Elmo.  It was a match made in heaven.

The basic story is that a new music teacher named Jenny moves to Sesame Street.  Since the…

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March 25, 2014
Boston Public Schools Budget Cuts: The Legislature Needs To Hear Our Voices

Boston Public Schools Budget Cuts: The Legislature Needs To Hear Our Voices #Mapoli #Bpsbudget #bospoli

The Massachusetts State Legislature is still coming to terms on the Senate Bill 235/House Bill 425 “An Act to Further Narrow the Achievement Gap.”  There’s a lot of pressure on our elected leaders to lift the cap on charter schools without first getting a better understanding of how funding charter schools in the state negatively affects the funding and resources for district public schools.…

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March 24, 2014
"There is a burden, though. There were those who asked in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon whether the race, or any race, would ever be the same again. But the “Boston Marathon Bombing” had nothing to do with the Boston Marathon. It had to do with two sick souls who were looking to strike out at enemies who, being imaginary, could be played by any strangers conveniently packed on a sidewalk. It is the obligation and privilege of the running community to start scrubbing away that stain. By running the marathon again, this year and next year and every year to the ending of the world, we will restore the Boston Marathon to what it was and will be again: the premiere marathon in the world, the amateur’s Olympics, the only legend any runner has a chance to be a part of."

Back to Boston | Runner’s World & Running Times

March 20, 2014
Boston Public Schools: Budget Cuts: Maintain the Cap on Charter Schools

#BPSBudgetCuts: Maintain Cap on Charter Schools @soniachangdiaz

Following up on my earlier post regarding severe budget cuts to Boston Public Schools, here is an issue that requires immediate attention from any residents of Massachusetts who read this blog.  Currently there is legislation moving through the Massachusetts legislature that will decide if the cap on charter schools in the state will be lifted.  This is a contentious issue as vocal groups of…

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March 11, 2014
Crack Goes the Charles!

Crack Goes the Charles!

February 26, 2014

February 23, 2014
Book Review: Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston by Michael Rawson

Book Review: Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston by Michael Rawson

Author: Michael Rawson
Title: Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston
Publication Info: Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, c2010.
ISBN: 9780674048416
Summary/Review:

This wonderfully researched and well-written history, explores the making of Boston by focusing on the social and environmental factors that shaped the city, its human ecology.  There are five sections of the book:

1.…

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February 16, 2014
Book Review: The Monster in the Mist by Andrew Mayne

Author: Andrew Mayne
Title: The Monster in the Mist
Publication Info: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
ISBN: B0056A295I
Summary/Review:

I got this eBook as a special deal for Kindle on Amazon, not knowing much about it other than it was a mystery set in Boston…

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February 8, 2014
Song of the Week: “Dying Breed” by Marissa Nadler (Stefan Biniak Private Edit)

Marissa Nadler is a singer-songwriter from Boston, but I’d not heard of her before now. In fact, “Dying Breed” is not a new song, but one she released back in 2007.  Luckily, German DJ Stefan Biniak is more up to date on Boston artists and has added the…

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February 7, 2014
Beer Review: Harpoon The Long Thaw

Beer: The Long Thaw White IPA
Brewer: Harpoon Brewery
Source: 12 oz bottle
Rating: *** (7 of 10)
Comments: Pours out cloudy blonde with a medium head. The scent is grassy with hints of citrus.  The taste of this beer is earthy followed by a hop explosion.…

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February 5, 2014
Benedict Cumberbatch eat your heart out. #bostonsnow

Benedict Cumberbatch eat your heart out. #bostonsnow

January 27, 2014
Write a Letter to Help Fix Cambridge Street @FixCambridgeStr @MassDOT @bostonbikeunion @StreetsBoston @WalkBostonView Post

Write a Letter to Help Fix Cambridge Street @FixCambridgeStr @MassDOT @bostonbikeunion @StreetsBoston @WalkBoston

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January 20, 2014
"It seems to me that if we are repeating the struggle of the 1920s between motoring interests and city interests, then we should take heed of the lessons of the twentieth century. Grade separation does not work for city streets. The promotion of vehicle speed, over the safety and access of pedestrians, only leads to desolation and abandonment of the city. The police cannot be trusted to judiciously apply “pedestrian law” and it doesn’t make sense anyway: nobody was ever killed by a speeding pedestrian. The more appropriate path is the one that was unwisely abandoned in the 1920s: the recognition that on city streets, speed is anathema to safety. Socially, many people are coming to realize that the old way is the best way forward: the proliferation of safe street, complete street, livable street movements is testament to that. However, the law still enshrines the dangerous twentieth century dalliance with speed at the expense of safety, and the slur “jaywalker” is still considered valid jargon for use by public figures. It may be the only such slur. Changes in concrete take time, but changes in terminology need not. Police resources should not be used as a weapon against walking. For one thing, it strikes at the heart of the city, which is the vitality of its walking population. For another, pedestrians have enough danger to contend with already: protecting themselves from heedless motor vehicle drivers who cannot be bothered to respect even the little scraps of street space the law grants to people on foot. Deploying police action against pedestrians is radically unjust, and an all too tempting case for abuse, as the NYPD demonstrated yesterday. After all, catching pedestrians is a lot easier than catching speeding motorists, because pedestrians pose no threat to anyone’s safety. The penalty for misjudging the speed of a vehicle is already quite steep—-injury or death—-and a citation is simply heaping insult on top of that. On the other hand, everyone knows that the vast majority of reckless driving goes unpunished, and the penalty relatively toothless in comparison with the potential devastation wreaked. Boston, in particular, has a major difference from many other counterpart cities: the extensive usage of “beg buttons” and the very poor programming of pedestrian signals and infrastructure. The status of Boston as a “walking city” is despite the infrastructure: because people have learned to routinely dismiss the signals as untrustworthy. Even BTD Commissioner Jim Gillooly has admitted that he does not really expect pedestrians to wait for the signal, and he personally does not either. So, Boston’s status as a good walking city is largely dependent upon the choice of the powers-that-be not to enforce the anti-pedestrian regulations on the books. New Mayor Marty Walsh has had a mixed record in his former job, the state legislature. While he has promoted bills which would reduce speed limits in urban areas, he has also pushed for doubling of penalties upon pedestrians, quite a regressive measure. Going forward, I hope that he chooses to distinguish himself from Mayor Bill de Blasio, by choosing methods of bringing safety to our streets that do not include pedestrian discrimination: walking should not be a crime, and making it so will only lead to conflict and disaster."

The Walking Bostonian: The term “jaywalker” is a slur

January 17, 2014
Jamaica Plain walking tour - The Boston Globe

My home.   The last sentence reads: “It’s challenging to experience all that Jamaica Plain has to offer in one visit or even two. It’s a neighborhood made to return to again and again.”  I’ve lived here for nearly 7 years and haven’t been to all the places mentioned.   

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