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City Council Supports Diversity and Recess in Schools

The council also talked about new parking meter technology and approved $1 million for public parks during the May 16 regular meeting.

The Boston City Council supported two hearings related to Boston Public Schools: one on efforts to diversity the teacher workforce and the other to discuss recess as an important part of the school day.

Councilors also talked about bringing the latest technology to parking meters, and approved $1 million for park maintenance. 

Diversity

Boston Public Schools has made efforts to increase diversity in its teaching staff, but it still doesn't reflect the racial, ethnic, and gender demographics of the student body, At-Large Councilor Ayanna Pressley said in her order filed for a hearing on the issue.

The racial diversity among students isn't mirrored among teachers, she said.

Students Teachers Latino 42% 10% Black 35% 23% White 13% 62% Asian 8% 5% Other 2% 0%

The hearing discussion would center on what's working, where they're falling short, and how to fill in those gaps, Pressley said during the May 16 regular meeting at City Hall.

She also pointed out that the teaching workforce is disproportionately made up of women, calling it a "male teacher shortage crisis" and said the council should talk with BPS to learn what's being done to solve that issue.

All other councilors supported the hearing, with Councilor Charles Yancey, D-4, one of those to add his voice.

"It is critical all our young people of all races and both genders have the opportunity to see diversity and leadership from the earliest of ages," he said.

Recess

"Recess was my favorite part of elementary school," said Councilor Tito Jackson, D-7, who filed an order for a hearing on recess and recreational activities in Boston Public Schools.

While physical eduction counts toward the 900 hours of structured learning, recess does not, and "children do not get recess daily in many of our schools," he said.

The unstructured playtime is a way for students to burn off steam and calories, helps combat the 25 percent obesity rate, and decreases the amount of bullying seen in schools, he said.

In his order for a hearing, he points out the elimination of recess directly coincides with increased standardized testing. He also says Black and Latino students attending public school in large cities are least likely to have recess, and are disproportionately suspended, expelled or arrested for bad behavior.

The city has also been working the organization Playworks to provide a healthy recess environment in 32 public elementary schools across Boston and Revere, and Jackson said there have been improvements in behavior and obesity rates.

Smark Parking Technology

Councilor Jackson was with a friend in Washington D.C. They parked their car and began walking away, when he noticed they forgot to feed the meter.

"She actually pulled out her iPhone, and paid for the meter with her iPhone," Jackson said.

While the ability to pay for meters using your credit card in Boston in great, the city should also be investing in the latest technology, he said.

The strategy would not only bring the city up to speed, it would create a smaller carbon footprint, and allow for parking meter fees to be directly deposited into the general fund, Jackson said.

"This is an opportunity now to move to a Government 2.0 solution," he said.

$1 Million to Public Parks

The City Council approved the appropriation of $1 million to the George Francis Parkman Fund for the maintenance and improvement of city public parks. The annual appropriation will ensure upkeep to the , , the Back Bay Fens, Highland Park, Horatio Harris Park, and Malcolm X Park.

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