Appreciates article on Senator Chang-Diaz
Thank you so much for running the article about the removal of Sonia Chang-Diaz from her position as chair of the Senate Education Committee. It is especially important to let people know about the PROMISE act which calls for addressing school funding inequities and I am glad you also included so much detailed information about the efforts of activists working on school finance reform. Readers of the Gazette should know about two important events involving the Boston School budget. The first is BPS Budgeting:Hunger games or Quality for all, an informational meeting at St. Stephens Youth Program, 419 Shawmut Ave. on Tuesday, March 19, at 6 p.m. The second is the final vote by the school committee on the Education Budget, March 27, at 6 p.m. at the Bolling Building.
Thanks again for writing about this topic which will affect the city and its residents for years to come.
Applying for schools can be interesting
While buying your way through the system to get college acceptance has always been around… for the rich, that is, anyone who went through the process of applying to schools with their kids can recall that in the last century, especially in the 1980s and 90’s, “helicopter” parenting was taken to the extremes. Parents would make sure their kids were involved in unique activities and volunteer work to complement their academic and, if applicable, athletic record. For instance, a child would take up some oddball instrument like the Australian didgeridoo or the bagpipes so as to stand out. She/he might be encouraged to work with Habitat or an inner city organization tutoring kids after school. All good causes, mind you, but I will never forget sitting in the formal admission office at a Pennsylvania school while our son was filling out a preliminary application that called for extra-curricular activities. He had plenty, but was stopped dead (as were we) when we overheard two teen girls and their moms trying decide which should be at the top of their lists (and I take the liberty to exaggerate slightly, only slightly )- the two months working in a leper colony on the island of Molokai, or, the summer helping feed and distribute medicine at the Kakuma Refugee camp in Northwestern Kenya. And what about musical instruments? The Oboe or Harpsichord? The moms replied, list everything in any order, just make sure you don’t leave anything out. Their exchanges were meant for all the rest of us, of course, as we wondered, “Hmmm, would the school really check to see if …”
Michel L. Spitzer
Support legislation on drivers’ licenses
Occasionally I leave home without my wallet. If I am driving when I realize this, I feel stressed and somehow more accident-prone. “What-if” scenarios begin to play in my head. If I’m pulled over, if I have an accident, the consequences for driving without a license will be inconvenient and costly. For some in our community, the consequences are detention and deportation. Having a license is reassuring and more importantly allows me to give my full attention to road conditions.
That should be the case for everyone who qualifies. Recognizing that everyone on the road is safer when all drivers have met certain requirements, I support H3000, a bipartisan bill before the Massachusetts House. The legislation calls for a driver privilege card that does not require proof of citizenship and yet mandates driver education and training, H3000 has reasonable requirements: drivers must demonstrate knowledge of traffic laws, have adequate vision, and carry automobile insurance. Think about it—requiring a social security number or proof of citizenship does not make a person more qualified to drive, but a policy mandating driver education does. H3000 calls for 30 hours or more in the classroom and not less than 18 hours on the road.
Licensed or not, adults will drive to earn a living, to get medical care, to fulfill responsibilities of parenting and elder care. In Massachusetts, approximately 80 percent of residents rely on a vehicle to get to work, They can do it in a lawful way, if given the option. I was appalled to learn that Charlie Baker has declared he will veto legislation providing a form of driver’s license to undocumented residents. Governor Baker’s stance is not prioritizing my safety or yours. Fears of attracting more immigrants and creating a pathway for fraud and fake ids are overblown. Neighboring states like Vermont, CT, and NY are among twelve states that issue licenses to applicants with such documentation as foreign birth certificates, passports, and evidence of current residency. There will be no reason for immigrants from NY or CT to surge into Massachusetts RMV offices.
Driving in Massachusetts is harrowing enough. We don’t need to play immigration politics on our roads. Please ask your friends and relatives across the Commonwealth to let their representatives know we deserve a reasonable policy like H3000 that will make our roads safer for all.
Active Member of JP Progressives Let’s do the right thing
Thank you to Rebecca Greening for her informative letter on the future of the Lemuel Shattuck site. If ever there was a need for a comprehensive community to serve the many suffering from addiction, it’s now. We see the ravages every day on Boston’s streets resulting from the closing of Long Island’s treatment facility. The unlikelihood of a bridge or ferry service being provided in the near future should cause everyone real concern. One needs only to take a short ride to the B.U. Medical area and the Melnea Cass/Mass. Ave. intersection to witness the extent of this scourge as these poor souls wander from corner to corner stemming for change, looking for their next fix. This is exactly the population that once was served by the Long Island Treatment center and there are many sober people today who will testify that it was there that they finally got hope and the guidance to living without drugs or booze. It was there that they were introduced to 12-step programs like AA and NA that now are part of their every day success story.
For years, the Shattuck has been the home of several well-attended 12 Step meetings, detoxes, and long term rehabilitation programs. The Shattuck Shelter has helped thousands over the years and worked in concert with recovery meetings in the main building. Come on, Boston, let’s do this thing. Let’s rally behind a therapeutic community that could become a model for the rest of the country. For once, let’s not cave to developers whose only objective is to make a profit.
Sincerely, Michel L. Spitzer