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Boston Public Schools District statistics

144 schools

6 Early Learning Centers (K-1)

61 Elementary Schools (K-5)

17 Elementary & Middle Schools (K-8)

Middle Schools (6-8).

1 Middle & High School (6-12)

30 High Schools (9-12)

3 "Exam" Schools (7-12)

6 Special Education Schools (K-12)

3 alternative (at-risk) programs

2 high schools are Horace Mann charter schools approved and funded by the BPS; and 1 high school is a Commonwealth pilot school

Projected SY08 enrollment is 56,190 (a decrease of 580 from SY07)

Winner, Broad Prize for Urban Education, 2006

Source: "BPS At a Glance 2007-08"; "BPS Wins Broad Prize for Urban Education," Sept. 19, 2006

One mother, two sons, two different outcomes

The Garcia family shares their story of trying to meet NCLB guidelines.

By JAMES ZIPADELLI

garcia_family

"From left to right: Mary, Paul, Jorge, 6, and Justina, 4, at their apartment in Dorchester." Photo: James Zipadelli

DORCHESTER – Mary Garcia has two sons in the Boston Public Schools system: Jasard, 15 who goes to McKinley South End Academy and Paul, 17, who goes to Tech Boston Academy, a pilot high school. They are both very social, but from an educational standpoint, they couldn’t be more different. 

Garcia has one son who is getting ahead in school, and another that she feels may be left behind. Her children’s experiences represent the challenges facing the Boston Public Schools in trying to fulfill the requirements of federal No Child Left Behind mandates. 

Paul does well academically and says he likes his subjects, especially math. He has dreams of going to college, being a millionaire, and says he’s already applied to schools. But it wasn’t as easy as it looks. He admits to “sliding by” until this year. His mother says he wasn’t challenged in the school system enough, making sub-average grades while scoring well on tests.

His younger brother is developing a juvenile record for incidents at school, Garcia says, including “going AWOL and giving teachers a hard time.” Garcia says school has been a challenge for Jasard since the third grade, when he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Although Garcia has found sympathetic teachers, finding the right curriculum to help Jasard do well has been difficult.

“Ever since then it’s been hell getting him through school,” Garcia said.
Of the six schools where Jasard has been enrolled, Garcia said he was most successful at Compass School in Jamaica Plain, a private alternative school.

“I wanted to cry because that school was so wonderful to my son,” Garcia said. “My son felt like there was mutual respect all the way across the board so he acted accordingly. It was a more welcoming environment for these kids that had gone through so much.”

Even though school has been difficult for Jasard he has had help from counselors in the district, Garcia said.

“People care about Jasard; he’s not a hateable kid, he’s a likeable kid,” Garcia said. “I think counseling helped him over the years. People that have worked with him have told me, ‘He’s the most impulsive kid I’ve ever worked with.’ He goes to school every day. That has to show something.”  

Paul said he’s tried to help his brother stay in school too.

“I’ve tried everything – nothing works,” Paul said. “He doesn’t listen to anyone. I’ve told him, ‘Stay in school. School’s the way to go.’ I love school. I just know all the stuff teachers be saying. I don’t know why I get it, I just do.”  

Garcia said Jasard’s struggles with school remind her of her own. She describes herself as a “distracted” student.

So now she is devoting her time and energy to her sons and their schools. Garcia is a parent co-chairperson representing ACORN, a member of the Boston Parent Organizing Network, and one of two parents on the school site council. Paul welcomes his mother’s involvement.

It’s awesome,” he said. “I definitely appreciate that. I think every parent should be like that involved with their kids and their learning.”    
Even though her involvement is reaping benefits for Paul, she said she’ll still be just as involved with Jasard and wants him to graduate.

“I’m not giving up on my son,” Garcia said.