School start times zero sum game

One day after the Boston School Committee voted unanimously to change school start times next fall so teenaged students could get a little extra sleep, Boston Magazine published a story asking what took so long.

“Why, in a state that is at the forefront of progressive policy and respects science quite a bit …, did it take so long to adjust something as seemingly simple as a schedule of school bells? Why is changing start times ‘something no one thought was possible,’ according to a CBS interview with Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang?”

Well, now we know.

It turns out that changing school start times in Boston is a zero sum game. Because Boston has to stagger opening bells to make its bus schedule work, letting high school students start later means lots of elementary school students have to start earlier. Suddenly 6-year-olds are looking at the prospect of starting school at 7:15 a.m., which means they will have to get out of bed at 6 a.m. Their parents aren’t pleased.

“I cannot fathom waking him up that early,” said Erin Birmingham Anadu, referring to her son. “This concept that kids are early risers doesn’t apply to my family.”

Angry parents turned out in force Wednesday night at a followup School Committee meeting, many of them holding signs saying “Assault on Working Families” and “Students are not Widgets.” Five Boston city councilors — Michelle Wu, Tito Jackson, Ayanna Pressley, Matt O’Malley, and Annissa Essaibi George — urged the School Committee to put the changes on hold for at least a year. Two members of the School Committee indicated they were rethinking their earlier support.

On Thursday, opposition continued to grow, as another city councilor, Michael Flaherty, condemned the plan and the NAACP and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice came out against the proposal, saying it would disproportionately impact families of color. “It is shameful that BPS turned an opportunity to do right by our high school students into a justification for unrelated cuts that harm our youngest children,” the civil rights groups said in a statement.

Many suspect the real motivation for the new start times for elementary students is to save money in running the buses. School officials say they are running a $6.6 million deficit this year in the transportation budget. By having elementary school students start earlier, they will get out earlier in the afternoon and their buses will avoid the rush-hour traffic that has caused delays and driven up costs.

Even though opposition seems to be rising, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh isn’t backing down.  “We’ve had 30 years of starts and stops in Boston with making changes, and every time when something is about to move forward we seem to crumble on it,” Walsh said. “There are certain things you can’t crumble on. Start times and grade configurations are two things that will make a tremendous positive impact in our district.”

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

The Globe reports that the FBI is looking into whether Bryon Hefner, spouse of then-Senate president Stan Rosenberg, offered a “quid pro quo” to men he allegedly groped — promising influence in Senate matters in exchange for sex. Several legal experts tell the Herald federal charges in the case may be an overreach.

A Globe editorial urges the House to follow the Senate lead and pass the Comprehensive Management Adaptation Plan bill aimed at protecting the state’s shorelines.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Globe series on racism zeros in on blacks absence from positions of power in the region.

The Nantucket Planning Board has given approval for a location for the island’s first medical marijuana dispensary. (Cape Cod Times) Because marijuana cannot be transported by air or water because the drug is illegal under federal law, the dispensary will have to grow and hire a tester on the island.

The Attorney General’s office ruled municipal boards do not have to release performance evaluations created by individual members of a board under the state’s Open Meeting Law, only the composite evaluations discussed in public hearings. The decision came in a complaint filed by the MetroWest Daily News against the Lincoln-Sudbury School Committee involving the evaluation of the superintendent. (MetroWest Daily News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The tax bill, which seemed on cruise control, is now in doubt again as Sen. Marco Rubio raises concerns and Democrats press for Alabama senator-elect Doug Jones to be seated. (Associated Press/Time)

Jeffrey Sachs says now is the time for Americans to speak out against military action against North Korea, which he says would inevitably lead to the use of nuclear weapons. (Boston Globe)

The Federal Communications Commission repealed the Obama-era net neutrality laws. (Associated Press)

Attorney General Maura Healey sued federal Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for failing to discharge the loans of students who attended Corinthian Colleges. (MassLive)

Scot Lehigh says Donald Trump’s accusers deserve to be heard. (Boston Globe)

A Herald editorial says Congress seems to only kind of sort of have a zero-tolerance standard on sexual misconduct among its members.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Work is underway to convert the 150-year-old City Pier in Fall River into a marina and restaurant. (Herald News)

Hiawatha Bray explains the tie-in between this week’s net neutrality decision by the Federal Communications Commission and Disney’s $52 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox. (Boston Globe)

Is there legal recourse for those falsely accused in the #metoo movement? (Greater Boston)

EDUCATION

Marty Walz says the late Mitchell Chester set a high bar for the next state education commissioner. (CommonWealth)

A survey by the Massachusetts School Building Authority finds at least 270 schools in the state are in need of renovation, repair, or replacement but only 15 to 20 projects are approved each year because of tight funds. (GateHouse News Service)

Civil rights groups join the call for the Boston Public Schools to revisit its planned changes to school starting times, saying the plan places a disproportionate burden on minority families. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

State officials say they will continue to fund children’s health coverage even if Congress fails to approve funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

CommonWealth offers its take on the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board halfway through its term.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Rep. Patricia Haddad and Sen. Michael Rodrigues send a letter to the state’s top energy/environmental official urging him to back an offshore wind project as part of the state’s clean energy procurement, which is heavily focused on hydropower from Canada. (CommonWealth)

Dave Packard of ChargePoint praises the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities for giving a jump to electric vehicle charging. (CommonWealth)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Federal agents raided the Rhode Island home of a 62-year-old Bellingham High School science teacher in connection with a pipe bomb that exploded outside the home of the Bellingham High principal. (MetroWest Daily News)

Court records show Bernard Sigh, facing charges of assault with intent to rape, lashed out at his brother-in-law, former governor Deval Patrick, and accused him of breaking up Sigh’s marriage to Patrick’s sister. (Boston Herald) Sigh was ordered held without bail at a hearing yesterday. (Boston Globe)

Raynham police arrested a drunken 22-year-old man outside an apartment complex allegedly carrying a with a fully loaded stolen assault rifle and handgun. (The Enterprise)

MEDIA

A.G. Sulzberger, the 37-year-old son of New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., will take over the job from his father on Jan. 1, the sixth family member to helm The Gray Lady since 1896.

The Globe says ESPN, the sports cable giant, has become a hostile environment for women to work in. (Boston Globe)

  • Mhmjjj2012

    This year, Boston Public Schools has 5 schools with the earliest start time: 7:15 a.m. All 5 schools have low accountability ratings:
    Clarence R. Edwards Middle School – Level 3 – “Among lowest performing 20% of schools…”
    Washington Irving Middle School – Level 3 – “Among lowest performing 20% of schools…”
    Jackson Mann – Level 3 – “Among lowest performing 20% of schools…”
    Madison Park High School – Level 4 – “Among lowest achieving and least improving schools…”
    John W. McCormack Middle School – Level 3 – “Among lowest performing 20% of schools…”
    So the only 5 schools with a 7:15 a.m. have low academic performance and the school committee just voted to increase the number of schools starting at 7:15 a.m. from 5 to 21.
    In the meantime, there are 21 Level 1 public schools in Boston and 16 of them have start times at 8:00 a.m. or later.
    As far as the 7:15 a.m. start time in concerned, the BPS website states: “Please arrive to school at least 15 minutes before classes begin.” So that 7:15 a.m. start time is really 7:00 a.m.
    So, what’s with the disruption? The school committee is appointed by Mayor Marty Walsh. Walsh’s administration just shelled out $944,000 in penalties to the IRS while blaming the Boston Public Schools even though the BPS is only responsible for $32,389 or 3% of that amount. The Mayor has to make sure the Boston Public Schools stay in a negative light and radically changing school start times does it.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    Letting high school students start later does not mean lots of elementary school students have to start earlier. According to the MBTA’s website: “…most middle and high school students in Boston take it (the T) every day!” So what would middle and high school start times have to do with kindergarten and elementary school students riding BPS buses? They are totally unrelated. There’s no reason to link them at all.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    So how is the Boston Public School Department responding to “angry parents” voicing concerns about the new, incredibly early school start times for next year? The school department is inviting parents to attend one of ten meetings scheduled…wait for it…the week before Christmas! I kid you not. From December 18th to the 21st, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00p.m. parents are supposed to drop everything and go to another meeting. Could that be a wear the parents down strategy? Or a “look how many parents did not show up strategy?” The school committee took a vote a couple of weeks before Christmas that reverberated across the city and now the school administration is holding meetings to discuss that vote the week before Christmas. Doesn’t anyone else see the problem with making policy decisions of that magnitude this time of year? Oh, wait, the GOP tax bill. I forgot, that’s how the most unacceptable things can get done. in the days leading up to Christmas.