These changes alone would extend the school day in Boston and increase quality at dozens of schools. But taken together with a historic change in our student assignment process, they would truly take our school system – and the lives entrusted to it – to another level.
One year ago, I appointed perhaps the most impressive group of Bostonians who have ever worked on any project in our city. They met with education experts, diversity experts, and, above all, thousands of kid experts – our parents. Please join me in recognizing our External Advisory Committee on School Choice.
In the coming days, they will make their final recommendation to Superintendent Johnson and the School Committee. To those who are understandably wary of the city’s history around school choice, recall the words of Representative and historian Byron Rushing. In a Roxbury auditorium last March he said, “To get this right we are not going back to anything. We are creating something new.”
Let us stay focused on moving forward with that process and on improving quality in all of our schools. This year I will include in my budget new Quality Improvement Funds. They will support great teaching, leadership training, extended time, partnerships, and upgraded facilities at our schools that need higher levels of support. This will be the start of a new $30 million investment as we continue to make all of our schools quality schools.
In 2013, we will also make Boston the premier city for working women.
I am surrounded by strong women, starting with Angela, Susan, Lisa, and my granddaughters. My cabinet includes many remarkable women. Some I have known for years. Others have joined us more recently. (I didn’t find any of them in binders.) This year we elected our first woman United States senator.
To outshine all cities we must unlock the potential of all of our women. Women make up more than half of Boston’s residents, but less than a third of our business owners. We can do better. Recent college graduates are earning less than their male classmates in the same jobs and with the same degrees. We can do better than that. And when mothers pursue their careers, many struggle to find affordable, quality childcare. We can certainly do better.
Tonight, I’m announcing a set of actions to support Boston’s women.
First, I am launching “Women on Main”, a new networking forum for our women-owned businesses in Boston’s vibrant Main Streets districts. We will also use the new Boston Innovation Center to open up new fields to more women and better connect them to one another.
We must also make it easier to find quality child care. I will launch a $1 million Capital Resources for Educators fund. It will offer low interest loans for safe, quality environments for our children.
This year, we’re going to be the very first municipality to help young women negotiate for fair pay.
Finally, I’m proud to say that we will create our first-ever Women’s Workforce Council. I will invite business owners, executives, and young leaders to help me advocate with the women of our city. Among other steps, we will make Boston the first city in the country to achieve pay equity for women!
The most powerful way to unleash a person’s talent is to prepare them for a job. We have many programs and places that do this work, but we can do more. I believe Boston’s Centers for Youth and Families can be the key. We will help update our neighbors’ skills and our community centers, too.
As a first step, I am pleased to announce a pilot with Harvard, MIT, and edX that will bring free courses to community centers. Open, online learning has made the whole world a classroom, and we should give our residents front row seats. They would get more than access to knowledge and skills; they would get time with faculty and job trainers.
Imagine a day when our community centers are little campuses in their own neighborhoods, full of vibrant groups of neighbors, exchanging ideas and making progress together. This initiative is a first, important step in that direction. We must connect adults in our neighborhoods with the opportunities of the knowledge economy.
The most tragic loss of human potential is when it is lost to violence. Sandy Hook is now seared into our memory. So are Woolson Street and Harlem Street. Wayne LaPierre and the NRA say more guns are the answer. That is crazy! Every victim of gun violence and their families know that’s crazy. Gabriel Clarke’s mother, Shirley, is with us tonight. She knows that’s crazy. After her son was shot, she called for peace. And LaPierre goes on T.V. after Sandy Hook and called for more guns? Any member of Congress who doesn’t vote for gun reforms is saying that she was wrong and he was right. We can’t let that happen.Continued...