Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Registration for 2007-08 school year continues

The first registration period for students entering kindergarten and grades 6 and 9 ends this week, and next week marks the beginning of the second registration period, open to applicants for all grades. This year, parents who live and work near Government Center had the added convenience of a satellite registration center in City Hall. Pictured here, BPS registration specialist Joanne Vaughan gives Katherine Alitz of Charlestown a packet of materials and gifts from "Countdown to Kindergarten" after completing the kindergarten registration process at City Hall. The BPS school choice website provides details about how, where, and when to register, and the latest versions of each school report card also are now posted on-line.

BSAC students debate high school start time on-line

Two members of the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) are featured in the "Eye on Education" blog presented by WGBH, debating whether Boston high schools should move to later start times. Moriah from Boston Latin Academy (pictured here) and Elyas from Boston Arts Academy may not agree on the issue, but they do agree that students must have a say in this important decision currently before the School Committee. BSAC students have played a key role in bringing this matter to the School Committee and providing valuable student perspectives on the pros and cons of later start times.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Schools and community come together to strategize about achievement gap

Mayor Menino, School Committee members, Superintendent Contompasis and other BPS officials joined parents and community members at Freedom House in Roxbury recently for a day-long forum about Boston's efforts to close the achievement gap. The Superintendent outlined some of the district's key strategies for eliminating the gap, including investment in early childhood education and strengthening family and community engagement.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Change of plans: Manuel Rivera not coming to Boston

The Boston School Committee announced today that Dr. Manuel Rivera will not become Boston's next Superintendent of Schools. In a letter to School Committee Chair Elizabeth Reilinger, Dr. Rivera indicated that “an unexpected and very attractive opportunity to work in a different educational context” has come up. Current BPS Superintendent Michael Contompasis will remain at the helm while the School Committee resumes the search process to identify his successor.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Boston teens: register soon for summer jobs!

There may be snow on the ground, but it's almost time for Boston teens to start thinking about summer jobs. Every year, thousands of Boston students are placed in summer jobs through the Boston Youth Fund, with support from the Mayor's Office, community partners, and local employers. Boston residents who will be between the ages of 15 and 18 during the entire period of July 8 - August 17, 2007, are eligible to register for summer jobs through the HOPELINE. Students can register by telephone or (617-635-HOPE / -4673) during certain hours on February 20-22 and 27, or on-line between February 20 and March 20. The HOPELINE flyer is available for download on the website in eight languages.

Monday, January 22, 2007

"National No Name-Calling Week" aims to curb bullying

Schools across the country this week are participating in National No Name-Calling Week, a national campaign sponsored by GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) and a coalition of other organizations to help prevent bullying and harassment in schools and communities, focused on students in grades 5-8. The project's website offers resources and creative ideas for adults and students to help stop bullying language based on race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, appearance, or other factors. Is your Boston Public School or classroom offering a special lesson or activity this week to help prevent hurtful name-calling? If so, please tell us about it by clicking on "Comments" below.

Family Resource Centers extend hours this week

Due to problems with the computer network last week, the Boston Public Schools Family Resource Centers are open for extended hours this week (January 22-26) to accommodate families who may have been unable to register as a result of the technical difficulties. The district apologizes for any convenience this may have caused. Please note that this registration period is only for the parents of students entering Kindergarten (K0, K1, K2) or Grades 6 or 9 in September 2007. Registration for all other grades begins on February 5. For more information, call the BPS Family Hotline at 617-635-9046.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Labor Relations Commission blocks BTU strike vote

The Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission this week ruled that the Boston Teachers Union's scheduled vote on a potential one-day strike is illegal. Strikes by public workers are illegal in Massachusetts, but this is the first time in decades that the Commission has limited a public union's ability to call for a strike vote. Superintendent Michael Contompasis said, “This ruling is a victory for the students and families of the Boston Public Schools,” he said. “Teacher strikes are not only illegal but also incredibly disruptive to the families we serve, who rely on us to educate their children every day of the school year. Any day spent holding picket signs instead of teaching is a missed opportunity to support kids.” Union officials are required to appear before the Labor Relations Commission at the end of the month to prove that they have taken the mandated steps to call off the strike vote.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

BPS students honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hundreds of students from 15 Boston Public Schools performed in "One Voice: Moving Millions," the 25th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on January 11. Through poetry, music, dance, and spoken word, students of all ages honored the memory of Dr. King in two performances at John Hancock Hall. This year's celebration included a special tribute to Dr. King's wife, Coretta Scott King, who died on January 30, 2006. Pictured here, the Mendell Elementary School Choir performs for students, staff, parents and members of the community.
Last week, schools throughout the district also paid tribute to Dr. King with classroom lessons and other activities. Community leaders spoke to students about Dr. King's legacy through the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Speaker Series. At the John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, all students participated in a three-hour activity about the film Boycott, the story of the Montgomery bus boycott led by Dr. King. Following the film, students engaged in classroom discussions, and each homeroom class wrote responses to issues raised in the film. These responses will be sent, along with funds that students have been collecting, to the Martin Luther King Memorial Fund to support the construction of a memorial to Dr. King on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New DVD helps families "Countdown to Kindergarten"

Countdown to Kindergarten recently unveiled a valuable new tool for families who are preparing to enter the Boston Public Schools: "I'm Ready," a 14-minute DVD about school readiness to help ease the transition to kindergarten. Countdown partners and BPS officials released the new DVD at a celebration in the Boston Public Library. Pictured here, Christopher Vanderhoop, Jr., of Dorchester, a student at the Young Achievers School of Mathematics and Science, receives gifts to thank him for starring in the video. The video is narrated in English by Mary Richardson, host of Chronicle on WCVB-TV, and in Spanish by José Massó from WBUR Radio. In addition to airing in Family Resource Centers and on BPS-TV, copies of the video will be available in five languages for all newly registered kindergarten families later this spring.

Ingrid Carney selected for Broad Superintendents Academy

Dr. Ingrid Carney, BPS Deputy Superintendent for Clusters and School Leaders (Triad A), is one of fifteen individuals selected to participate in the 2007 Broad Superintendents Academy, a 10-month executive management program to train top executives from military, business, non-profit, government and education backgrounds to lead urban public school districts. Dr. Carney has a distinguished 37-year career in public education reform, particularly in the area of school leadership development and support. She joined the leadership of the BPS in September 2005.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Young BPS poets win statewide contest

Top honors in a statewide poetry contest recently went to talented young poets from the Snowden International High School and Hurley Elementary School. In the second annual “Equality and Diversity” poetry contest sponsored by World Unity, Inc., Stan Williams of Dorchester, a 10th grader at the Snowden, won first place in the high school category for his poem, “An Unlived Ideology”, while Abdirahman Abdullahi of the South End, a 3rd grader at the Hurley, won first place in the elementary school category for his poem, “Being Different.” The two students will work with WROR 105.7 radio personality Julie Devereaux to read their poems for a PSA that will be heard by listeners across Massachusetts and in parts of Rhode Island and Connecticut next month. Stan and Abdi were among six BPS students whose poetry was recognized by the judges. Snowden 10th graders Dana Mendes of Dorchester and Minh Nguyen of South Boston placed second and third, respectively, in the high school category, while Hurley 3rd graders Milena Guerrero of Dorchester and Reina Hernandez of Roxbury placed second and third, respectively, in the elementary school category. Pictured here with their U.S. History teacher, Mr. John Garner, are (left to right) Williams, Mendes and Nguyen.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Blue Cross Blue Shield celebrates BPS partnerships

It was a "Blue Christmas" for several students from two Boston high schools -- but not in the sad way described in the old song. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts invited students from Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and Brighton High School to its holiday party. Pictured here with Executive Vice President Peter Meade are students who work and study at the company during the school year and summer, as part of the school-business partnership coordinated by the Boston Private Industry Council. The firm also sponsors the Blue Scholars program to help high-potential students achieve their academic and career goals.

Sumner Elementary seeks alumni and former staff

Tomorrow, January 6, would be the 196th birthday of Charles Sumner, an important abolitionist and civil rights advocate who represented Massachusetts in the US Senate from 1851-1874. Sumner was born in Boston and graduated from Boston Latin School, and the school district honored his legacy with the naming of the Charles Sumner Elementary School in Roslindale. Today, a group of parents and staff from the school are seeking alumni and former staff of the school to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of the current school building, including a dinner program on May 19. For more information, contact Ruth Bodian at 857-498-0877 or

Thursday, January 04, 2007

School Committee news

The new year brings changes to the Boston School Committee. Last week, Mayor Thomas M. Menino appointed two members from among the finalists recommended by a Citizens Nominating Panel. Mayor Menino reappointed longtime member Alfreda J. Harris and appointed the Rev. Dr. Gregory Groover, Sr. (pictured here), pastor of the Historic Charles Street AME Church. Rev. Groover fills the vacancy left by William Boyan, who did not seek reappointment. In its annual organizational meeting, the School Committee re-elected Dr. Elizabeth Reilinger as Chair and Marchelle Raynor as Vice-Chair. The Committee also approved the 2007 meeting schedule, including several upcoming public hearings about the budget for the 2007-2008 school year.