Educational activism

As the son of two retired BPS educators, I was proud to see Jamaica Plain activate in support of our students and teachers in overwhelmingly rejecting Ballot Question 2 last November. Our organizing saved the state from turning down a dangerous path that would have drained our public school systems of hundreds of millions of dollars. The message we sent to Beacon Hill and to the out-of-state corporate donors was clear: Bay Staters want well funded, quality public schools for all students in the Commonwealth.

On Saturday, May 20th, at 2pm, thousands of Massachusetts parents, educators, and students will rally on Boston Common for the future of education. Since the election, our community has led the way in organizing at the local, state, and federal level to stand for the values we hold dear. On May 20th, I urge you to gather once more in the spirit of democracy, to build a movement, and show Gov. Charlie Baker, Secretary Betsy DeVos, and President Donald Trump that we want fully funded and equitable access to quality public education – from pre-K through college – for all residents of Massachusetts. The Rally for Public Education is about coming together and in support of greater investments in our schools and in our students. I hope to see you there!

Nelson Tamayo

JP Resident

Dog park

I am writing in response to Chris Wirth’s letter “Hockey rink shouldn’t be a dog park” and would like to offer another perspective on the issue of dog parks in Jamaica Plain.

First off, I would like to contend Mr. Wirth’s assertion that children are somehow “second-class citizens” in Jamaica Plain. You cannot walk more than a block or two without bumping into a playground or field. Isn’t that why we love our neighborhood? Part of the reason why I live in JP is because we have so many wonderful green spaces.

Now, I understand that there is an issue with people illegally letting their dogs off leash and also not cleaning up after them. However, in his letter, Mr. Wirth came to the, frankly, bizarre conclusion that therefore no one should have a dog in the city. Let’s be honest, my friend, that is simply an unrealistic solution.

If Mr. Wirth is sincerely looking for a way to solve this issue, I have a proposition: create a dog park in JP. Yes! That very thing which you so loathe would, in fact, help solve your problem. If people have an official space to go to, I guarantee that this will minimize traffic in non-authorized spaces. Having frequented the now-closed Beecher Street dog park, I can attest that there are many people in Jamaica Plain who desperately need space for their dogs to run free and interact with other dogs. At the moment, the only option is at MSPCA-Angell, which is only open for limited hours and does not have a double gate (this greatly increases the risk of dogs escaping).

I encourage my neighbors to look at this issue in a measured and fair way. Let us not get hysterical and try to skew this as a “children vs. dogs” issue. Many other neighborhoods in Boston have successful dog parks, so what’s holding JP back? I truly believe that a dog park would make JP a cleaner, safer, and happier neighborhood for all its residents.

Mary Hewey

Jamaica Plain resident

3353 Washington St. development

The juxtaposition of the left and right articles on pages 2 and 3 is stunning.  On the right, the 25 Amory St. project is family-sized units, max 60% of the area median income, some subsidies, with bicycle parking.  On the left, 3353 Washington St., is a “good project that hits all the boxes for thoughtful transition to transit-oriented…” more double-talk follows.  Which way, Jamaica Plain, should we go: thoughtful, inclusive projects, or those that require zoning variances to maximize return on investment.
David Gleason

Jamaica Plain resident

Racism is our limp

Racism is our limp here in Boston—it sets us apart, holds us back, diminishes us, and like a limp, it doesn’t go away. We are known for it—around the league and across the country. But unlike a limp, when we confront it, when we name names, we deal racisms a defeat and we strengthen our better selves.

Racism in Boston has a face, in my mind. It is white, it is male, it is under forty. It is the face of the young men who threw rocks at the terrified African American kids being bused to South Boston in the 1970’s. It is the face of the young man road raging his way south on the Arborway on Friday afternoon, blowing his horn and giving me the finger as he roars by on the inside lane. He is the guy yelling epithets and throwing peanuts at the Baltimore centerfielder. He seems full of resentment. He seems always to be angry, on the edge of violence, yet, strangely, fearful himself. His speech is limitlessly profane. He is not our next Timothy McVeigh or the next Dylan Roof, but even so, he is destructive—and self-destructive, too. And to what end?

Still, it’s better than it was. In the late 1960’s, I was teaching at Newton South High School when the first cohort of METCO kids arrived. There were scores of fights. Only young male teachers were assigned to cafeteria duty. The tension was palpable. It took ten frightened but dedicated policemen to break up the fight at the only dance we had one year. But that’s ancient history now. It’s hard to imagine it ever happened.

In 2012, I coached Laura Ochoa, our brilliant, fiery, Columbia-born valedictorian as she prepared her graduation speech at English High School here in JP. The school was about 55% Latino then, and 45% African American. In six years there, I never saw an inter-racial fight. The kids got along, but they didn’t speak to each other, let alone work together or date one another. I her speech, Laura took the stunned school community to task for ignoring that pernicious stand off among the students, when we should have been acknowledging the problem and helping the kids to build bridges. Every student went through the metal detectors and had his backpack searched every day. There were three (really excellent) police officers on duty al the time. But I never felt the kind of hostility in the air that boils over into violence, and that was a vast improvement on my experience at Newton South. And even if the faculty and administration didn’t directly confront the racially based tensions, the school’s top scholar did, bravely and publicly. That was a big step.

Speaking up really helps and staying silent does not. If we do not speak up when we hear a racist comment or a vulgar tirade or see obvious bullying in, say, a community meeting, we condone it and we shirk our responsibility. And we know that, too. I try to speak up when I can, but it’s easy now because I am old, and bullies are reluctant to punch our senior citizens. I should have been speaking up fifty years ago, but it’s never too late to start.

Jonathan Slater

Jamaica Plain resident

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