Boston’s young adult challenge

The challenges facing young people in Greater Boston were laid out today, though not in a single story but rather in several.

The Globe has a front-page feature on the trials and tribulations of the region’s young adults, those aged 20 to 34, who now make up a larger share of Boston’s population (35 percent) than they do in any other major US city. While Boston used to lament the exodus of people in this demographic, who found it too difficult (i.e., expensive) to set down roots here, today’s story hints, but doesn’t really offer clear proof, that these young adults may be more inclined today to battle their way to a future in Boston.

 

The main story and an accompanying set of mini-profiles of half a dozen young people run through the litany of challenges facing young adults that are greatly magnified in Boston’s high-cost economy: heavy student debt, a slow jobs recovery, and crushing housing costs.

As important as the story is, its telling seemed decidedly incomplete. In a city where minority group members now make up a majority of the population, the piece focused entirely on white young adults and one native of Bangladesh, with nearly all of those profiled having landed here from elsewhere.

The plight of young people raised in and around Boston got short shrift, though they face the same challenges. Their cause, however, gets attention on the Globe editorial page, which urges Gov.-elect Charlie Baker to take up the agenda laid out through the Vision Project overseen by outgoing higher education commissioner Richard Freeland. It calls for something akin to the “grand bargain” at the core of the state’s 1993 K-12 education reform law. Its higher ed analogue would be a renewed commitment to state funding of public higher education in exchange for a sharper focus on graduation rates and outcomes at those institutions. A focus on degree completion along with sustained state funding that could alleviate some of the student debt burden would help public higher ed students — who overwhelmingly come from Massachusetts and intend to stay here — better cope with the challenges of living in such a high-cost region.

Similarly, whether long-troubled Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Roxbury can get on its feet, as WBUR explores today, is as vital to Boston’s future as figuring out a way to keep 31-year-old Kristin Mattera, whose story appears in the Globe feature, from leaving the region and returning home to Connecticut.

Attention should certainly be paid to retaining those young people who land here for college once they graduate and enter the workforce. But it’s equally, if not more, important to pay attention to the needs of young people born here, who will anchor the region’s next generation of young adults.

MICHAEL JONAS

BEACON HILL

Michael Widmer, who is stepping down after 22 years at the helm of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, talks with Keller@Large about the looming budget battle.

State officials are considering allowing deer hunting in state parks and preserves to cull the rapidly growing herd, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Though the initial impression was that Charlie Baker had wooed Northeastern University’s senior vice president Steven Kadish to join his administration as chief of staff, Kadish was actually more than available as his job at the school was actually being phased out, the Globereports.

Baker throws cold water on a proposed pay hike for lawmakers.

New state rules that require state social workers to be notified of any unexplained infant death are drawing praise and criticism.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt seeks water and sewer rate hikes, the Salem News reports.

A member of the Saugus Board of Registrars resigns in a dispute over the recall of four of the town’s selectmen, the Item reports.

The state Civil Service Commission says Braintree Police Chief Russell Jenkins was too involved in the recent round of hiring of officers in which his son was a candidate and has ordered the town to show why the process should not be restarted.

CASINOS

MGM Springfield hands out payments to eight surrounding communities.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Mitt Romney is leading the field of potential contenders for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination in the most recent poll, but most experts say it’s his name recognition and “buyer’s remorse” that is keeping him at the top despite his insistence he will not run a third time.

Seth Moulton is getting ready to take office, and looking to fellow Congressional delegation 30-something-year-old Joe Kennedy for advice.

Bloomberg Politics charts the evolution of President Obama’s “So sue me” presidency.

ELECTIONS

Gov. Deval Patrick goes on Meet the Press to discuss presidential politics. He says he wished the grand jury in Missouri had indicted Darren Wilson.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Chris Dempsey, of No Boston Olympics, joins Jim Braude on Broadside to discuss why Boston should not play host.

Holiday spending falls on Black Friday, Time reports.

EDUCATION

Administrators at Boston’s Madison Park vocational school see progress, WBUR reports.

HEALTH CARE

Hospitals will lose some Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements as a result of the state budget cuts.

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

New stepped-up efforts to prosecute those running sex-trafficking businesses are also resulting in more charges being brought against their female accomplices, who at times have been victims themselves who were pulled into working as prostitutes.

A change in the FBI standards for tracking and defining sexual assaults has resulted in an increase the number of rapes being reported.

MEDIA

ICYMI: Matt Gross, who was hired as editor-in-chief of Boston.com amid great fanfare just two months ago, has resigned because his family remained in New York and he couldn’t juggle both demands.