Tag Archives: mayor

A Spineless Mayor Walsh

I tend to think of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09, and Governor Charlie Baker as America’s second biggest bromance, after Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Together, these two have done a lot of great things for the city of Boston. Many homeless people have come off the streets, crime rates are down, the unemployment rate has decreased by 2.4 percent, and a number of new companies, like General Electric, Reebok, and New Balance, have invested in Boston. Walsh even had the gall to veto the Boston Olympic bid when they were making outrageous demands of the local government, despite his desire to bring the competition to the city. Times of prosperity, however, do not reveal a man’s true character, and when it came down to it this election season, only one of these two men exhibited courage.

Ballot Question No. 2 in Massachusetts proposed allowing more charter schools to open up in Boston and across the state. For those of you who are not familiar, a charter school is a publicly-funded school that is established by a “charter.” The school’s charter outlines the school’s specific goal in helping the community. Some focus on science and technology education like AMSA (Advanced Math and Science Academy), others focus on disadvantaged and marginalized populations, and many just try to provide a unique and high-quality educational alternative to students that might otherwise be forced to go to a low-performing district school. If a charter school does not fulfil its charter, it will be promptly shut down by the state.

For years, Walsh has been a strong advocate for charter schools. He was a founding board member of the Neighborhood House Charter School (NHCS), and once proposed state legislation to expand the cap on charter schools. That should sound familiar, because that is exactly what the state ballot question was about.

Baker made the bold move to support the ballot question. He spoke on television in support of the initiative and even went door-knocking in Dorchester to ask people to support charter school expansion. As the most popular governor in the United States, choosing to be so involved in what turned out to be a very controversial issue was a bold move. It took political courage, especially with his re-election in only a few years. Baker stood up for what he believed in, even when he was under intense pressure from a lot of special interests.

Walsh did exactly the opposite. He knows what good Massachusetts charter schools do for minority communities. He is the founding board member of the Neighborhood House Charter School which serves 81 percent minority students and 67 percent low-income students. He knows that, after 20 years, charter schools have helped improve these marginalized communities drastically and have achieved more than regular public schools have in 200 years. There is an abundance of evidence that demonstrates the superiority of charter schools for low-income students, English language learners, minority students, and special needs students alike. Despite all of this knowledge, Walsh inflicted a decisive blow to the proposed legislation with an influential op-ed he wrote in The Boston Globe in October urging voters to strike down the ballot question.

Working with the Question 2 campaign, I personally spoke to a lot of voters. Many of them referred to Walsh’s op-ed as the reason they were going to vote “NO.” The mayor’s endorsement carries significant weight, so why would he condemn the same type of bill he himself had proposed in the past?

Teachers’ unions. They contribute more money to politics than even the NRA. They run Massachusetts politics and pose a huge threat to any politician who is willing to stand up to them. Case in point: Walsh, who is about to face a difficult race for reelection against fellow Democrat Tito Jackson, knows that he needs all the support he can get.

It is sad to think that the acclaimed mayor of a proud city would give up fighting for what is best for the community because of special interests. Walsh apparently wants to win even if it costs him his morals and the city its social progress.

Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Staff

Boston College, City of Newton Announce Partnership to Combat Economic Inequality

According to a recent report entitled “Making Ends Meet in Newton,” it is 15 percent more expensive to live in Newton than in a number of its surrounding towns in the Boston area. This is one of several reasons that the office of Newton Mayor Setti Warren, BC ’93, is teaming up with Boston College faculty to promote Warren’s “Economic Growth for All” Initiative, which is aimed at combating economic inequality in Newton.

At a press conference in the Yawkey Center’s Murray Room on Oct. 6, Warren, along with Health and Human Services Commissioner Deborah Youngblood, University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., and Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley, announced the new partnership.

“The issue of our time, I believe, is the issue of income inequality,” Warren said. “The idea that an individual or a family could work hard, take care of themselves, contribute to a community, be self-sufficient, and pass that onto their children may not be possible for future generations in this city.”

For Warren, such an issue hits close to home. His parents came from disadvantaged neighborhoods in Harlem and the Bronx, giving him first-hand experience with economic inequality. He referred to his own economic status when talking about creating plans for his initiative.

“My parents purchased the home where I grew up with my dad’s GI bill benefits here in Newton,” Warren said. “I live in that house right now. I know that my wife and I would not be able to afford to purchase the home right now. This is personal for me.”

The partnership will create a new range of opportunities for BC professors and faculty to work with officials from Newton on research and policy projects relating to economic disparity in the local community.

“There is a real obligation to think seriously about how we contribute to the common good in our own research, teaching, and service.”

– David Quigley, Provost and Dean of Faculties

Warren described three major areas that the initiative will focus on: investing in human capital so that residents can become self-sufficient, creating more affordable housing and transportation throughout the city, and continuing to grow the “innovation economy” of Newton by seeking to create higher-paying jobs closer to the suburbs.

Warren, who spoke highly of BC, highlighted the University’s capability to help further the initiative’s goals.

“This University has the leading thinkers around all three of these issues, grounded in science, grounded in research,” Warren said. “You have the ability to work with a city like Newton to ensure that we’re putting the right interventions in place, growing the programs we have in place already, but then looking at creating new, bold imaginative programs for our citizens here in Newton.”

The University has already begun to contribute to the initiative, with Youngblood and her staff partnering with the Center for Retirement Research at BC to create a cost-of-living index for Newton. Youngblood hailed this project as an example of what the local government can achieve when working in collaboration with the University.

Leahy spoke about the importance of BC’s engagement with its local community, and hailed the newfound partnership as an exemplarily relationship.

“I think there are great possibilities for this partnership to enhance not only what goes on in Newton,” Leahy said. “But I think there will be lessons for other communities in the United States about how there are ways in which the economic and health well-being of individual citizens can be enhanced by partnerships with institutions of higher education and a caring, dedicated city government.”

As a graduate of BC, where he was Undergraduate Government president, Warren recognized that the goal of combating economic inequality aligned directly with the Jesuit value of working as men and women for others. Quigley emphasized this point, and described the correlation between the partnership and the University’s mission of furthering the common good.

“We’re really trying to push toward research and scholarship as an institutional commitment that has an orientation toward the common good,” Quigley said. “Thinking here in 2016, in metro Boston, in larger U.S. society, there is a real obligation to think seriously about how we contribute to the common good in our own research, teaching, and service, and I think this partnership opens up some rich possibilities for us.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Setti Warren / Creative Commons