Toward Racial Equity: Increasing Access to Boston’s Exam Schools

Action Alert

 

Boston’s exam schools, the top schools in our city, have long been held out as the merit-based means of upward mobility for the children of Boston’s working class families.

But admissions data show a troubling trend of discrimination.

The data show under-enrollment of African American and Latino students persisting across Boston’s exam schools, particularly at Boston Latin School (BLS).

Increasing access to Boston’s exams schools for students representing the diversity of the district is critical to the goal of advancing racial justice in the city. A coalition of organizations has formed to increase public understanding of the issues and engage communities across Boston in a series of collaborative conversations about creative and feasible solutions to increase access to Boston’s most prestigious public educational institutions.

A coalition of organizations has formed to increase public understanding of the issues and engage communities across Boston in a series of collaborative conversations about creative and feasible solutions to increase access to Boston’s most prestigious public educational institutions.

These organizations include:

  • JP Progressives 
  • West Roxbury/Roslindale Progressives
  • The Boston Branch of the NAACP
  • The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice
  • Massachusetts Advocates for Children
  • The ACLU of Massachusetts
  • The Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts (BEAM) and…

MA Appleseed!

We are joining forces with these incredible organizations to host a community conversation on racial equity in Boston’s exam schools. We are co-sponsoring the first event TONIGHT,Tuesday, July 11, at the First Baptist in Jamaica Plain, located at 633 Centre Street! Come join us as we review disparities in exam school invitations (per the Broken Mirror Report),consider alternatives to our current admissions policy, determine questions we have for the Boston Public Schools, and explore initial points of consensus among attendees on admissions alternatives!

JOIN THE CONVERSATION!

First Baptist Church
633 Centre Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

7 PM TONIGHT!

We hope to see you there!

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MA Senate Criminal Justice Reform Bill Includes School Arrest Reforms!

Action Alert

Great news!
The Senate criminal justice reform bill that will be voted on within the next week includes key provisions we support from H.328/S.876, An Act decriminalizing non-violent and verbal student misconduct.

These important provisions eliminate the practice of arresting students for minor behavioral infractions and establish standards and accountability for police in schools. This is an issue that disproportionately affects students of color and students with disabilities, and is a crucial component of our work to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.

Another important provision of these bills relates to data collection. Right now, the information and reporting on school arrests is scattered and incomplete. S2170 would require establishing systems for arrest data collection, reporting, and publication – similar to the reporting system for school suspensions.

I want to thank you for standing with us to push these bills to the front of the conversation! Your hard work will ensure that we keep kids in class where they belong.

But it’s not over yet!

We need you to call or email your state Senator and ask him/her to support these provisions in S2107. We’ve made it easy for you by providing a script that you can use below!

Click here to find contact information for your State Senator and then call or email them using the script below!

Script:

Hi, my name is ________ and I am calling to encourage Senator _______ to support comprehensive juvenile justice reform that prioritizes the wellbeing of students. Sections 13, 174, and 175 of Senate Bill 2170, (the omnibus criminal justice reform) support school discipline that moves away from unnecessary arrests and requires data collection and reporting of school based arrests.

These provisions would:
  1. eliminate the practice of arresting students for minor behavioral infractions;
  2. establish standards and accountability for police in schools; and
  3. require establishing systems for arrest data collection, reporting, and publication – similar to school suspensions.
These provisions are necessary because:
  • Unnecessarily arresting students ruins lives and encourages youth to drop out of school.
  • Students who drop out are more likely to go to prison, earn less income and rely more on public benefits than students who complete school.
  • Student arrests disproportionately target students of color and students with disabilities.
  • No data is currently collected or reported about school based arrests.
  • Data collection will inform us on the prevalence and reasons for arresting students.
  • Reporting school arrests would be a simple additional requirement to reporting that school districts already file with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Please support a final Criminal Justice Reform bill that includes these provisions!
Join us and call or email your State Senator today!

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Take action today to ensure adequate funding for homeless youth, civil legal aid, and statewide housing court!

Action Alert

The Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate have both finalized their initial FY18 budget proposals. Thank you for your hard work over the past few months. Your advocacy for funding to support access to justice for all and resources for homeless youth makes a difference!

But it’s not over yet. 

Now the fight moves to the Budget Conference Committee, in which six members are tasked with working through the differences between the House and Senate budget recommendations on a variety of issues. Here’s a quick reminder about where things stand for the 3 budget areas that are a priority for MA Appleseed:

  • Housing Courts
    Thanks to Senator Spilka‘s leadership, the statewide Housing Court expansion (line item 0036-0003) was included in the final Senate Budget proposal. Neighborhoods under attack from gentrification and families threatened with eviction need access to a housing court.District courts simply do not have the resources or expertise necessary to protect the 31% of Massachusetts residents currently without access. We cannot allow the recent traction gained on the housing court expansion to slip away. It is critical that the Conference Committee adopt Outside Sections 121-135 to enable the expansion of the Housing Court and $1 million in line item 0036-0003 to fund that expansion.
  • Civil Legal Aid
    Low-income people experiencing civil legal problems are not eligible for court-appointed attorneys – they rely on civil legal aid programs. These programs are essential to the safety and stability of low-income individuals and families. Without it, low-income residents of Massachusetts will face crises in such areas as housing, employment, health care, immigration, and domestic violence. Due to a lack of funding, legal aid organizations are forced to turn away 64% of eligible people in need of help. The House and Senate both recommended $20 million in funding for MLAC(line item 0321-1600). We must ensure this vital funding is adopted by the Conference Committee and included in the legislature’s final FY18 budget.
  • Homeless Youth
    Line item 4000-0007 funds services for unaccompanied homeless youth and young adults aged 24 and younger. The Senate budget includes $2.5 million in funding for these services,$500,000 more than the total FY17 spending and $1.96 million above the House FY18 recommendation. The Conference Committee will be in charge of reconciling that difference and deciding on a final number. Let them know that you support investing in these indispensable services for homeless youth!

The important work of these programs critical to low-income families and homeless youth can only continue if the Conference Committee provides adequate funding!

Contact the conferees directly to ask them to:

  1. Adopt Outside Sections 131-135 in the Senate budget to enable the expansion of the Housing Court and $1 million in line item 00036-0003 to fund that expansion;
  2. Include $20 million in funding for civil legal aid via the MLAC line item 0321-1600;
  3. Adopt the Senate’s higher proposed funding level of $2.5 million for services for homeless youth (line item 4000-0007). Additional funds will help to ensure that more young people can be served.

The conferees are meeting RIGHT NOW and will continue to meet throughout the month of June to finalize the Legislature’s recommendations for the 2018 fiscal year that will begin on July 1st so it is imperative that you ACT NOW!

The House conferees are:

The Senate conferees are:

Want to do more? Ask your State Representative and Senator to weigh in with the conferees in support of the housing courts, civil legal aid, and unaccompanied homeless youth TODAY!

Not sure who to call? Click here!

One call can make the difference. Please join us and stand up for justice for all and services for homeless youth.

Thank you for your continued support.

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2018 Senate Budget Debate

Action Alert

Dear MA Appleseed supporter,

The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) is the state’s leading provider of funds for civil legal aid – yet nearly two-thirds of qualified applicants are turned away every day due to a lack of resources.  Without legal help, these individuals are forced to navigate the complex civil justice system on their own, facing critical life altering legal issues such as eviction, debt collection, domestic violence, and child custody. Without legal help on such matters, people can lose their families, their homes, and their livelihoods.

YOU CAN HELP! 

This week, the Senate Ways & Means Committee released the 2018 budget plan that would level-fund the appropriation for civil legal aid at $18 million. This is $2 million less than the amount the House appropriated for legal aid last month.  Senators Cindy Creem and Will Brownsberger will file an amendment to add back that additional $2 million for the MLAC line-item (0321-1600), but they need co-sponsors. 

HERE’S WHERE YOU COME IN!

Click here to email your State Senator today and ask them to sign on to the Creem-Brownsberger amendment on the MLAC line-item before the end of today.

Let your senators know how important this issue is for access to justice in Massachusetts!

Don’t know who your State Senator is? Look your legislators up here.

Not sure what to say? Look up talking points here.

Are you a constituent of Sen. Creem or Sen. Brownsberger? Great! Send them an email to thank them for their leadership on this important issue.

Eager to learn more about the state budget process? Go to our website for an easy-to-understand explanation!

Senators have only until the end of the day today to co-sponsor budget amendments, so please contact your State Senator NOW!

Thank you for your continued support.

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2018 HWM Means budget

Action Alert

Earlier this week, the House Ways & Means Committee released its 2018 state budget proposal for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1stThe House Ways & Means (HWM) budget includes recommendations for funding for programs and services provided by the state, including many that affect youth, our schools, and the courts.

Unfortunately, some of the House Ways & Means Committee’s recommendations do not provide sufficient funding for several programs that Massachusetts Appleseed supports.

Representatives are filing amendments to the budget this week seeking increased funding for these and other programs. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE by contacting your state representative and asking them to co-sponsor the budget amendments listed below:

  • Homeless Youth
    The HWM budget proposes eliminating line item 4000-0007, which currently provides $2 million for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults. As a member of the Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Commission, Massachusetts Appleseed is supporting a budget amendment that would provide $4 million in funding for this line item in the fiscal year 2018 budget, as well as explicit language and funding in line item 4000-0003 for the work of the Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and the annual Massachusetts Youth Count. Representative Jim O’Day of West Boylston plans to file two youth homelessness amendments. You can find out more about funding for unaccompanied homeless youth here.
  • Safe and Supportive Schools
    With a recommended appropriation of only $200,000, the proposed budget cuts funding in half for the Safe and Supportive Schools line item (7061-9612).  Representative Ruth Balser of Newton is filing a budget amendment to fund this line item at $400,000. This will restore critical funding for these programs. You can find out more about funding for Safe and Supportive Schools here.
  • Housing Court Expansion
    While the Governor included $1 million to provide for statewide Housing Court in his FY18 budget, the House Ways & Means Committee did not include anyfunding for Housing Court expansion in its proposed budget. Representative Chris Walsh of Framingham will be filing amendments seeking $1.2 million and the authorization to start housing court expansion in January 2018.  Click here for a fact sheet with more information about the importance of statewide Housing Court.
  • Legal Aid Programs
    While the HWM budget would provide an increase in funding for theMassachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (“MLAC”), which funds civil legal aid programs in Massachusetts, the total would be $3.5 million less than requested. Civil legal aid programs already turn away 64% of eligible cases due to lack of funding. This means that more than 54,000 eligible people are turned away each year — over 33,000 in the areas of housing and family law alone. And state funding for civil legal aid is more important now than ever since the President has proposed eliminating funding for legal aid at the federal level.Representative Ruth Balser of Newton will be filing an amendment seeing an additional $1.5 million in funding for civil legal aid. Read more about the need for increased funding for legal aid here.

You can reach your state representative by calling the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000 or by emailing them using the email address found here.

Not sure who your representative is? No problem!  Just enter your address here to find out!

Eager to learn more about the state budget process? Go to our website for an easy-to-understand explanation!

Representatives have only a limited time to co-sponsor budget amendments, so please contact your state representative TODAY!

Thank you for your continued support.

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