Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Tommy Chang held his sixth community dialogue on August 23 at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School (JQES) in Chinatown. More than 100 people attended the town hall event, enjoying refreshments and asking Chang questions.
Chang has been in Boston for the first year of his five-year contract, overseeing a district which serves more than 56,000 children in 125 schools.
“My team is focused on three values: equity, coherence and innovation,” Chang said.
Equity means all students have the opportunity to attend a high-quality school close to home with good programs such as International Baccalaureate (IB) or technical courses, Chang said. Coherence is simplifying the complex BPS school system, where students attend K-5 and K-8 schools and must transfer to middle and high school. Innovation means developing school curriculums in line with workplace needs, such as learning multiple languages or debating.
The Josiah Quincy Upper School is the only IB school in the BPS district, serving grades six to 12. “Our high schools, like the IB one down the street, are debating in classrooms, doing hands-on work. We need more innovative schools,” Chang said.
Doannie Tran, BPS assistant superintendent for professional learning, said, “We want a great curriculum with deep thinking to prepare students for college. We are working with kids, teachers and school leaders to choose things that are interesting and engaging.”
Among Chang’s priorities were updating BPS facilities, with a team going into each building to assess which ones needed to be taken out of commission or upgraded.
“Mayor Walsh has made a commitment to rebuild the school system, as two-thirds of school buildings were built before World War II,” Chang said. “Newer buildings that were built in the ’70s also need renovation.”
Parents asked Chang about increasing enrollment at JQES, which is among the top elementary schools out of 41 K-5 schools in the district. Chang responded that enrollment is already full at 828 students, with no more space in the school for additional students.
“We have incredible schools in BPS,” Chang said. “Our job is to create high quality schools all across the board.”
BPS English language learners speak more than 75 different languages and hail from 139 countries. Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish are among the top nine first languages spoken by BPS students. JQES and JQUS in Chinatown both have Chinese language-specific programs for English language learners.
The community dialogue was attended by BPS leadership, JQES Principal Cynthia Soo Hoo, JQUS Principal Richard Chang, and former JQES principals Suzanne Lee and Bak Fun Wong.
Community partners were Asian American Civic Association, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Association, Boston Asian: Youth Essential Service, BCYF Quincy School, Boston Chinese Parents Alliance, Quincy Elementary Parents Council, Chung Wah Academy, Chinatown Main Street and The Chinatown Coalition.
This post is also available in: Chinese