By Mayor Martin J. Walsh
The start of the school year brings a lot change into our students’ lives: new classes, new teachers, new subjects to tackle. September can be an inspiring time, a season that brings students, teachers and families together as they work to accomplish a shared goal: a successful, completed school year. But I know starting the school year isn’t always easy for everyone — for a lot of students, school can be tough. It was that way for me. When I struggled as a student, my teachers and schools helped me — and I’m proud that for all students, Boston Public Schools have resources that are there to help each and every student succeed.
Here in Boston, education is a bond that brings us together. Making the Boston Public Schools work is a collaboration between teachers and students, families and principals, Superintendent Chang and myself — the entire community.
Together, we’ve been investing in BPS. We created Boston Saves, a pilot program to help families save for college and career training that we plan to bring to every kindergartener in the system. We’ve added hundreds of new pre-kindergarten seats. We’re bringing our most rigorous curriculum to more schools through Excellence for All. We lengthened the school day to get elementary and middle school students more learning time. We’ve gotten thousands more students into high-quality after-school and summer programs.
We’re seeing results. We have more Level 1 and Level 2 schools, and a higher graduation rate, than at any time on record. We’re closing opportunity gaps for BPS students. And there’s more to come.
This year we launched BuildBPS, a $1 billion, 10-year investment in school facilities, curriculums, and technology. We are working to create environments where our students can learn to solve 21st-century problems. And, under BuildBPS, we also announced the 21st Century Schools Fund. We’ve dedicated $13 million to provide immediate capital investments to every public school during this school year. Schools will be able to choose from a menu of investments, from classroom technology to classroom furniture. School communities know what they need best.
Boston’s educational vision is one of lifelong success, so we’re building pathways from early childhood to college and career. College affordability is a major barrier to students nationwide. So this spring, we rolled out our tuition free community college initiative for low-income students. We want to make sure that all BPS graduates, no matter their circumstances, have college as an option. Money should never be a barrier to opportunity.
Boston schools are home to students of many diverse backgrounds, and we’re making sure students facing challenges have access to the tools and supports they need to reach their potential. We care about every single one of our students. An obstacle in the way of any one of their educations is an obstacle we must all overcome together.
I’ve experienced first-hand the importance of community support. When I was in first grade, I got cancer. I was often in the hospital for treatments and missed a lot of school. But everyone around me stepped in to help, from neighbors to teachers to classmates. The entire community was on my side. Today, every student facing challenges of any kind should feel the same. And I’m proud that in Boston, they do.
For that, I want to thank the teachers and staff in our schools. Thank you for bringing as much excitement to the first day of school as the students do. I know you’ve been preparing all summer for this day. Thank you for your relentless dedication. You play essential roles in the development of our young people.
Thank you to the parents and families for supporting your children. The hours of back to school preparation, pick-ups and drop-offs, and homework help does not go unnoticed. You are building a strong foundation for your childrens’ futures.
Together our community supports the most talented kids in the country. I couldn’t be prouder of Boston’s youth. So lastly, thank you to the students for coming back each year with more passion and energy than the last. You inspire me every day and I will never stop working to make sure you have the resources you need to succeed.
I wish our students, parents, and families a fantastic school year filled with amazing experiences inside and outside the classroom. Have a great year!