There has never been a stronger economic, moral, and collective imperative to address long-standing and fundamental inequalities in BPS. This requires strategy, persistence and a continuation of the determination that we showed over the past year.
We also need to turn our attention back to the roadmap we set before the pandemic broke out, when we were about to put in place a new five-year strategic plan and realize former Mayor Marty Walsh’s $ 100 million investment. With additional city investments and new federal stimulus funds, we now have the resources to focus on the promises we made to the communities that helped us develop the strategic plan.
We start with better access to quality early childhood education. Research shows that early education leads to better outcomes for children, especially those with skin color and those who stem from economic disadvantage. We will be expanding our early childhood education program this year and making the successful model accessible to more students. We will also expand partnerships through the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Connector program.
A comprehensive education for children in each class requires the support of the whole child. We have added family members and social workers to each school and are expanding our hub schools model, which brings together health and personal services in the school environment for the benefit of students and families. And every student should have the arts, music, sports, civics, science, and outdoor playgrounds: essential parts of an excellent education parents have asked for for years. We will use our federal funds to invest in access for all students.
Every student also deserves a great teacher in every classroom. Teachers who receive the right mix of support and resources to enable them to cater to the unique needs of each student. Our plan includes ongoing efforts to recruit and retain more color educators, as well as investing in curriculum and development for our educators.
Students and families deserve predictable education pathways that start in preschool and continue through high school. We’re reviewing class configurations to limit transitions for students and investing in all open high schools in Boston to provide opportunities for rigorous academics, athletics, arts, and co-curriculum programming. We focus on preparing students for success in higher education and a competitive workforce by working with local businesses. By connecting with internships, apprenticeships and industry experience, students can see their own potential and find a path to a better future.
To successfully realize this vision, we must first start an enriching summer program and safely get the students back to full-time learning in September. We will work with students and their families to restore what may have been lost by helping them rediscover their innate love of learning, cultivating solid and supportive relationships, and focusing on academic recovery.
Dealing with last year’s tribute challenges us to reconsider the opportunities we created in developing our community-informed strategic plan: a school district where every child has the opportunity to achieve their dreams. A district in which every school, in every neighborhood, in every part of the city is equipped in such a way that every student can develop their unlimited potential.
The pandemic has disrupted almost everything we know and love. It revealed with renewed clarity the differences that have existed in our schools and our communities for far too long. But it reminded us all of what the best thing about Boston is: our shared belief and determination that we can do great things together. Together we will always get up.
Brenda Cassellius is the superintendent of the Boston Public Schools.