The start of the school year brings a lot of change into our students’ lives: new classes, new teachers, new subjects to tackle. September can be an inspiring time, a season that brings students, teachers and families together as they work to accomplish a shared goal: a successful, completed school year. But I know starting the school year isn’t always easy for everyone -- for a lot of students, school can be tough. It was that way for me. When I struggled as a student, my teachers and schools helped me -- and I’m proud that for all students, Boston Public Schools have resources that are there to help each and every student succeed.
During the fall of 2016, teen activists from Hyde Square Task Force attended a meeting to get an update on the Jackson Square Recreation Center, which is being developed by local Urban Edge, a local community development organization. At the meeting, the youth learned four important facts: that the facility would have two levels -- one ice and one indoor turf; that more fundraising needed to happen before a groundbreaking; that this facility had been promised to the community over 16 years ago; and that decades ago the state had closed two skating rinks, one in Jamaica Plain and another in Roxbury, which had never been replaced. The youth, most of them 16 years old, realized that they had not had the opportunity to have a state-of-the-art facility at a location where over 30,000 black and Latino youth live within 1.5 miles. And they decided to take action. The teens initiated a "Where is the Love for Urban Youth Campaign" and gained support for the Jackson Square Recreation Center from hundreds of other youth and parents, dozens of stakeholders and elected officials.
Boston is a diverse city made up of residents of all backgrounds, all education levels and job sectors spread out over 23 neighborhoods. Some of us were born and bred here, some with families that have been here for decades, some received a wonderful education or job here and decided to make the move to this city. All these groups make Boston what it is today--a great city that’s full of great people. Together, this diversity makes us stronger as a city, and I believe that anyone who wants to live in Boston and make this city better should be able to afford to do so. And we know, a lot of people want to live in Boston these days.
A recent article in the Jamaica Plain News regarding oral health care for underserved populations (“Councilor O’Malley Supports State Bills to Improve Oral Health Care for Those in Need,” August 3, 2017) raises an important question: Why don’t underserved populations in urban communities like Jamaica Plain and rural areas like Western Massachusetts receive preventive and restorative dental treatment that would improve their overall health? A substantial volume of research tells us that dental care for low-income and elderly populations is disproportionately influenced by poverty, geography, lower levels of oral health education, language or cultural barriers, and even fear of dental care. That’s why the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) has a bill pending before the legislature that not only seeks to make dental care more accessible and affordable, it also offers the comprehensive approach that Massachusetts needs if it wants to successfully provide basic dental care to its neediest citizens. The MDS bill introduces a new mid-level oral health care provider to increase access to care. It also includes several measures to promote routine preventive care, increase awareness about the scientifically-proven benefits of community water fluoridation, and help people connect with caregivers in their local communities.
Nearly a year ago, the Massachusetts legislature passed the Equal Pay Act. That law took aim at some of the most pernicious sex and gender-based workplace discrimination we know. This year, we are establishing workplace protections for pregnant workers, because unfortunately gender-based employment discrimination doesn’t end with pay. Today, women comprise half the workforce and are the primary breadwinner for over forty percent of households with children. At some point in their working lives, nearly 85 percent of women will become mothers.