Thursday, August 06, 2020

Boston City Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu Releases Report on BPS Reopening & Recovery

Boston City Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu Releases Report on BPS Reopening & Recovery 
Report shares feedback from school community members and offers concrete recommendations to move toward an equitable future for Boston schools

Boston, MA— Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu released a report today detailing policy recommendations for an equitable reopening and recovery for Boston Public Schools (BPS). The report contains recommendations and concerns from Boston community members. 

Councilor Wu shared the nine-page document with Superintendent Brenda Cassellius and members of the Boston School Committee prior to last night’s School Committee meeting. In her testimony, Councilor Wu noted that the Superintendent’s Draft Reopening Plan released earlier this week fails to address the scale of need and public health risk school communities are facing, and shifts the burden of health and well-being onto BPS students, families, and staff. 

“Boston Public Schools must meet the moment, amid a pandemic and historic organizing to dismantle systemic racism,” said Councilor Wu. “We need collaborative planning that guarantees Boston’s students, families, educators, and community members the space to reimagine education in Boston.”

As BPS plans for reopening, community members have emphasized the need for equity, safety, transparency, community engagement, and planning:
  • BPS should commit to an all-remote start to the school year and take the Hopscotch proposal off the table while planning for a phased-in transition to in-person learning for at least some students and exploring facilities options.
  • Apply to the state for the full professional development period for educators to have time to plan before student learning begins this fall.
  • Empower educators to spearhead planning for creative solutions on teaching, learning, and regarding facilities considerations, potentially looking at groupings of students in other ways than currently assigned classes.
  • Provide clarity and transparency on how the science and data will inform decisions.
  • Outline specific supports for students who rely on specialized services, including students with disabilities and English Language Learners. 
  • Prioritize mental health supports for all students heading into the school year.

With the pandemic exacerbating existing issues within BPS, Councilor Wu’s report also shares collective feedback on solutions to these issues through community-led action and collaborative planning. 

The report outlines five key principles for a safe and equitable BPS recovery, which include: 
  1. Serving families’ needs holistically by recognizing schools as a hub for social resources and providing resources at the scale to meet individual needs;
  2. Trusting and elevating educators’ leadership and expertise in creative planning for teaching, learning, and facilities considerations;
  3. Ensuring safe and healthy facilities by investing in infrastructure, providing public health protocols, and guaranteeing access to remote technology;
  4. Prioritizing mental health and trauma support through adequate staffing, access to support, social-emotional learning, and listening to student voices; 
  5. Embedding racial justice throughout BPS policies and programs, including revamping curricula and implementing antiracist training, demilitarizing schools, addressing the school-to-prison pipeline, and eliminating surveillance of undocumented students.

“In this moment of uncertainty and urgency, we must marshal every resource and every ounce of political will to redesign school communities to truly serve our students and their families,” said Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu. “With all community members at the table, we can implement a safe BPS reopening, build towards an equitable recovery from COVID-19, and deliver the opportunities our students deserve.”

Read Councilor Wu’s letter to the Boston School Committee and full report here. 

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