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Monday, August 16, 2021

居民要求學校委員會委員由選舉產生列入選票問題

 Residents petition for a ballot question on electing the Boston School Committee

Amid mounting demands for city voters to regain the right to choose their School Committee, a group of residents from across the city has filed a petition to put the question on the November ballot.

The petitioners represent a wide range of racial and ethnic groups, neighborhoods, and ages. The ballot question would be advisory, but passage would put pressure on the City Council and the Mayor to move forward with changing the way the School Committee is chosen.

The proposed question reads: “Should the current appointed school committee structure be changed to a school committee elected by the residents of Boston?”

Along with the ballot initiative, a home rule petition filed by City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo and supported by Councilor Julia Mejia would create a process to determine the eventual structure of the elected school committee. Together, the ballot question and home rule petition could restore to Bostonians the democratic right to elect their school board; a right that residents in every other municipality in the state possess.

“The goal of the ballot petition is to allow voters to weigh in on the governance of the Boston Public Schools. Passage will both make it clear that Bostonians are in favor of electing their school committee and bring pressure on the council and the mayor to make that change,” said Ruby Reyes of the Boston Education Justice Alliance, a member organization of the Boston Coalition for Education Equity. 

Councilor Arroyo stated that the home rule petition will be the beginning of a robust public process to arrive at the eventual school committee structure in partnership with Bostonians. “We are required to propose something to replace the law we are striking, but to be clear, this is just the starting point for a conversation on what’s the best eventual structure. We would not be proposing this if we couldn’t guarantee that all voices will be heard and that the end product will be dictated by a public process. I support the effort to democratize our school committee and ensure that our school committee is accountable to the people they serve.”

For the past 30 years, the mayor has decided who runs the city schools. Public interest in changing school committee governance has increased over the past several years; a June 2021 Suffolk University and Boston Globe poll showed only 6 percent of likely voters still support the current system.

The petitioners include Dr. Jean McGuire, who in 1981 was the first Black woman elected to the School Committee. That was before the current committee structure, with all members appointed by the mayor, was adopted in 1991. When School Committee elections were stopped, the 13 elected members were the most diverse school committee in the city’s history.

McGuire said she believes Boston should restore elections for School Committee because, “The sine qua non of citizenship is the right to vote. It’s your voice. Never give it up. People died for that right.”

The petition was organized by the Boston Coalition for Education Equity, an alliance of education, community, and civil rights organizations. The petition signers include parents, students, and teachers who feel the current Committee has made decisions that harm students and that an appointed Committee cannot be held accountable.

According to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 53, Section 18A, the City Council can place a non-binding question on the November ballot upon petition by at least 10 registered city voters.

Other petition signers include:

Rev. Willie Bodrick II, senior pastor of the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury:

“What's most important is that we get an opportunity to ensure that the voices of the people are heard, especially those who are disproportionately affected by the structural barriers of our systems, in communities like Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan.

“An elected process engages people, it's going to have people going door to door to ask questions about their children's and their family's experiences. This leads to us identifying the problems, encouraging the district to be better, and engaging families so that all our children have the best opportunities to become all that they need to be.”

Carrie Mays, youth activist and social justice warrior:

“The historic incident of seeing numerous youth leaders resign from BSAC due to the corruption of the Boston School Committee was a reflection of poor accountability and lack of youth voice. Time and time again young people and parents have been neglected from our educational decision-making processes. If we truly want to implement inclusivity of youth and especially Black and Brown people to our fullest capacity, we need to start by practicing a more democratic approach and let the residents of Boston elect our School Committee.”

Lee Nave, Jr., Allston community organizer:

“I used to do a lot of juvenile justice reform work, and so I've seen the school to prison pipeline. Some of the policies the School Committee oversees play a huge role in determining if a young person is incarcerated or has a record. An elected School Committee would allow us to put people in charge who have backgrounds that better represent our community and better understand the problems that face young people.”

Jean Powers, BPS parent:

“It’s been clear for years that BPS intended to close my children’s school, but top officials always denied it—right up until they announced it was closing after all. No provision was made to help the children through this harsh transition. Our families have never had a voice. I believe an elected School Committee would represent the interests of BPS families.”

Suleika Soto, BPS parent and parent organizer for the Boston Education Justice Alliance:

“When the School Committee gave the McCormack field away, they didn't take the community into consideration. That happens a lot also with school closures. The community rallies and comes to the School Committee to say why it's a bad idea, and they’re not taken into consideration.

“When there are elections, you’ll know if the community feels the School Committee members haven't worked for what the community needs.”

Please go to ElectTheBSC.org for further information on this ballot question.

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