Downtown Schools for Boston downtownschools.org
Downtown Schools for Boston Releases Election Survey, Urges Voters to Consider Key Neighborhood Issues
Boston, Massachusetts, September 9, 2013 - To assist voters across Boston’s downtown neighborhoods in making their decisions in the September 24th and November 5th elections, the community group Downtown Schools for Boston has prepared a Voter Guide outlining candidates' views. The Voter Guide was prepared from responses to a questionnaire about schools and the downtown neighborhoods, and can be found at the group’s website:
Angela Wang of Downtown Schools for Boston remarked, “Public schools are critical to the success and vitality of our city and our neighborhoods. And across our city, Boston's public schools and students face many profound challenges, even after years of progress. Because these issues are so important, our neighborhood associations - the West End Civic Association, Beacon Hill Civic Association, Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, Audubon Circle Neighborhood Association and Downtown North Association - have also agreed to circulate the results of the questionnaire. The involvement of neighborhood associations across downtown shows the wide recognition that schools are one of the most important issues for downtown neighborhoods.”
Community groups are also strongly encouraging voters across downtown Boston to vote in the preliminary election on Tuesday, September 24th, and in the final election on Tuesday, November 5th. Bruce Kiernan of Downtown Schools for Boston commented, “Candidates are well aware of whether voters in each neighborhood vote in each election, and they allocate their attention and choose their priorities accordingly. If we don’t vote, our neighborhoods’ views don’t count. We all owe it to our city and our neighbors to vote and make our voices heard.”
The Downtown Schools group decided to organize the questionnaire and Voter Guide after realizing the impact of the upcoming elections. “Boston’s leadership will change dramatically over the next few months, and the new Mayor and City Councilors will have a remarkable opportunity to shape our city's future. The upcoming elections for Mayor and City Council will determine the future of Boston’s Public Schools, and deeply affect our neighborhoods,” said Ania Camargo, a leader of Downtown Schools for Boston and a former president and chair of a neighborhood association. “Activists in the downtown neighborhoods have been seeking public schools for over a decade. We would like every voter in our neighborhoods to understand how very important the upcoming elections are for our neighborhoods.”
Downtown Schools for Boston asked several questions of the candidates for Mayor and City Council, and the pages in the Voter Guide show the responses, for those candidates who completed the questionnaire. Many of the questions focus on Boston’s schools, while some questions ask more broadly about the downtown neighborhoods.
“We’re extremely pleased with the number of responses, from the many candidates for Mayor and City Council,” said Ms. Camargo. “We’re also very impressed with the quality of responses. Boston is fortunate to have many strong candidates for office, which is wonderful for the city’s future, but will make voters’ decisions more difficult.”
Seven candidates for Mayor of Boston completed the survey. “The next Mayor of Boston will substantially determine the priorities, leadership and funding for our public schools, and will shape development and services in our neighborhoods,” said Mr. Kiernan. Mayoral candidates show a high level of commitment to improving Boston Public Schools (BPS). The candidates’ city-wide priorities include closing the opportunity gap, expanding early education, extending the school day, decentralizing the administration of the schools, and increasing the autonomy of schools. There is also broad support for increased community involvement, including forming a task force with BPS and the downtown neighborhoods to plan the future of schools in downtown Boston. Candidates’ support for a school to serve the Fenway and the Back Bay, the largest area in the city without a public elementary school, varies from strong support for a school to a willingness to evaluate the need in a city-wide context.
The group received responses from three candidates for City Councilor for District 8, who will represent Mission Hill, the Fenway, Audubon Circle, Kenmore Square, the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and the West End. “The District 8 Councilor will be a critical partner in our efforts to improve our schools and our neighborhoods,” noted Ms. Wang. The candidates for District 8 are focused on bringing schools to the district, expanding affordable housing, managing institutional expansion, and improving city services. There is also strong support for improving the quality of schools throughout Boston.
Downtown Schools also received responses from both candidates for City Councilor for District 2, who will represent Downtown North, Downtown Boston, Chinatown, Bay Village, the Seaport / Fort Point, South Boston and parts of Beacon Hill and the South End. “The District 2 Councilor will also be an important partner in our efforts in the downtown neighborhoods,” according to Ms. Camargo.
Eight candidates for At Large City Councilor responded to Downtown Schools for Boston. Four City Council at-large members will be elected, and they represent the entire city. “The support and focus of the entire City Council will be needed to move our schools and neighborhoods forward, so their positions on these issues are important,” stated Mr. Kiernan. At-large candidates listed a wide range of priorities, including education, public safety, domestic violence, substance abuse, jobs, economic development, and affordable housing. At-large candidates also support increased community involvement, including forming a task force with BPS and the downtown neighborhoods to plan for downtown schools.
About Downtown Schools for Boston:
Downtown Schools for Boston is a group of five hundred families and other supporters working to:
· Add and expand public elementary schools in Boston's downtown neighborhoods, and engage our downtown neighborhoods with the Boston Public Schools.
· Make it possible for more children to attend Boston Public Schools, and help more families stay in downtown Boston.
· Support efforts to improve the quality of Boston's public schools.
The group’s focus is on the downtown neighborhoods that currently have no public elementary schools: the Fenway, Kenmore Square, Audubon Circle, the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, the West End, and Central Boston (Downtown Crossing, Downtown North, Government Center, and the Financial District).
As a non-profit organization, Downtown Schools for Boston, Inc. is not permitted to endorse or support candidates.