Monday, August 31, 2015

End of Summer Exam

You might want to review these notes first:

Summer School Lesson
Summer Semester
Summer School Courses

I'll let you readers grade it. Time for final instructions.

"Boston struggles to diversify teaching ranks; Wave of retirements thinning ranks of black educators" by Jeremy C. Fox Globe Staff  August 24, 2015

Boston’s public school system is struggling — and failing — to satisfy a federal mandate to diversify its ranks of teachers, a requirement made all the more difficult as a generation of the city’s black educators retires.

Even amid ongoing efforts to diversify, the district is falling short of US District Judge Arthur Garrity’s 1985 court order requiring 25 percent black and 10 percent “other minority” teachers, part of Garrity’s historic school desegregation plan.

The district meets Garrity’s standard for Hispanic and Asian teachers, but just 22.7 percent of last year’s Boston Public Schools teachers were black, according to state data.

Many of the city’s black teachers were hired in the 1970s and 1980s, following orders from Garrity, and have reached retirement age. Last year, 73 percent more black teachers left Boston schools than could be replaced with external hires, according to the district, and high levels of retirement are expected to continue.

The district could have foreseen the retirements and acted sooner, said Travis J. Bristol, a research and policy fellow at the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education who has studied diversity in Boston schools.

“Until there is a crisis, there isn’t a need to address the issue,” he said. “I don’t think that’s true only of Boston; I just think it’s true of large bureaucracies.”

It is not uncommon for schools to “operate in crisis mode,” he said.

The district’s new superintendent, Tommy Chang, has pledged to build a workforce that looks more like Boston’s students, who are 86 percent black, Hispanic, and Asian.



The effort began to bear fruit in early hiring this year. Nearly a quarter of the new teachers hired between March and Aug. 13 were black, despite a pool that included only 8 percent black applicants.

And the district is seeing early success in recruiting Boston high school students to pursue education careers: 47 percent of participants in its High School to Teacher Program are black and 39 percent are Latino.

School officials say they are ramping up diversity efforts through the Office of Human Capital, created last year by consolidating the offices of Human Resources and Educator Effectiveness.

The office is now posting teaching jobs as early as March — when a diverse candidate pool is available — through an early hiring initiative begun last year under then-interim Superintendent John McDonough.

“You’re competing for the best talent, rather than what we used to do, which was in August kind of look for who’s still out there,” said Emily Kalejs Qazilbash, assistant superintendent of human capital.

Brenda Chaney, a Boston teacher who retired this summer, said BPS must cast a wider net nationally, particularly at historically black colleges, and work against the perception that Boston is racist, another holdover of the desegregation crisis.

Michael Contompasis, a former Boston interim schools superintendent, said the department has long been committed to diversity, but fewer black and Hispanic students are drawn to teaching as more lucrative fields have become welcoming.

RelatedBoston business schools struggle to counter low black representation, inclusion

“The State Streets of the world, the BNY Mellons of the world — everybody is looking to make certain that they are attracting a diverse workforce,” Contompasis said.


It's service to banks that is at the bottom of every AmeriKan in$titution!

Already, Boston’s 22.7 percent for the last school year gave it the highest proportion of black teachers in the state. Second was Cambridge, with 7.9 percent, about 4 percent lower than that city’s black population.

Of 1,600 black teachers statewide, about 835 — more than half — worked in Boston.

Nationally, 6.8 percent of US public school teachers were black and 7.8 percent were Hispanic in 2011-2012, according to federal data.

These numbers reflect a shortage of minority students entering teaching programs, educators say.

Some universities are attempting to address the disparity....

I'll give you one gue$$ who.


Related:  Boston schools pledge smooth start despite wait-list woes

Assuming the kids can even get to class.

Maybe you should cheer on the charter schools then.

Your first question:

"Event notes Boston’s history of slavery" by Jennifer Smith Globe Correspondent  August 23, 2015

While Boston prominently advertises its revolutionary and abolitionist history, the city’s role as a slave port is rarely remarked upon; but it was to mark that ignominy that hundreds gathered in Faneuil Hall on Sunday.

Not much has changed, really. 

The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews

Jewish Involvement in Black Slave Trade to the Americas

But it's rarely remarked upon.

The ceremony marked the first International Day of Remembrance of the Middle Passage and its Abolition. About 500,000 enslaved Africans, a quarter of whom were children, were transported to the Colonies and later the United States, many chained below-decks for the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, called the Middle Passage.

“We need to celebrate our abolitionist history,” said Beverly Morgan-Welch, executive director of the Museum of African American History. “And you know, in Boston people think slavery happened somewhere else, but it started here.”

Slaves were first recorded in Boston in 1638. The city functioned as a Middle Passage port city, into which slaves were delivered and sold.

“The descendants of Africa were the economic engine of this country,” Morgan-Welch said to the assembled crowd.

She added later that the biggest issue with acknowledging Boston’s history on the topic is that “it is a story so violent, so despicable, so horrific, and so quintessentially American.” It suffers from the paradox of a liberal city engaged in a reprehensible business, and as a result, the story is often ignored entirely in favor of an abolitionist narrative.

It's that strain of Yankee superiority that I was raised with my whole life.

Speeches and prayers were interspersed with the sound of crashing waves, referencing the ocean passage in the historic great hall. Some participants were clad in bright African garb and played a series of drums and chimes.

That the ceremony took place in Faneuil Hall was not without irony, pointed out Superintendent Michael Creasey with the National Park Service, as Peter Faneuil benefited from family participation in the slave trade.

Speaking at the ceremony were representatives of several faith communities and government groups. All addressed the historical legacy of slavery directly and without euphemism.

“It was part of the fabric of late Colonial life of Boston,” Creasey said, referencing a description of slave-owning Bostonians who asserted they would rather be burned in their beds than give up their slaves.

“We are not able to erase the past,” said minister Olivia Dubose.

Now take down that Confederate flag.

But they can face it as a multiracial, multigenerational, and multireligious community, speakers said. The realities of the trade were ugly, as the life of a northern slave was one of toil in factories and homes, being forced to lay down their freedom for their masters’ freedom to attend college and build magnificent homes, Morgan-Welch said.

“This is an issue for us as human beings,” said Ann Chinn, the founder of the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project. She said having conversations about New England slavery was opening the door to reclaiming a truer narrative of their histories.

“Our ancestors are our angels, our saints, and they’ve been waiting to fill this role,” she said.

I didn't have anything to do with it.

Speakers pointed out that while the Northeast does boast a strong abolitionist leadership, such as Frederick Douglass, captive Africans utilized escapes, petitions, military service, social action, and organized protests to resist slavery.

In 1832, the New England Antislavery Society was formed by a free black community in the African Meeting House on Beacon Hill, growing into a national movement.

Following a court case in 1783, in which an American slave sued for his freedom, a Massachusetts Supreme Court justice determined that “the idea of slavery is inconsistent with our own conduct and [the Commonwealth’s] Constitution.” The decision abolished slavery in the state.

Late in the ceremony, libations were offered for those who lost their lives on the voyages; those who made the migration willingly, only to be enslaved; and the young black residents of the country who are persecuted for their skin color, said Anthony Menelik Van Der Meer. After each libation, those assembled chorused a prayer and “black lives still matter.”

Don't all lives matter?

The event closed as it opened: a boisterous drum line through the clapping and dancing audience.

Representative Byron Rushing said it is vital to have regular places and times to talk about slavery or the slave trade.

Why? We care here now.

Slavery in the United States, he said, lasted 246 years. It will not be until 2111 that people of African descent will have been free in the country as long as they were enslaved, he said. He said Bostonians, particularly those of African descent, need the chance to recall an inconvenient history long shunted to the side.

So they can cry victimhood constantly like another tribe?

“Everybody here knows that there were abolitionists, but they don’t have a clue what they were trying to abolish,” he said.

Southern Independence is what it was, under the mask of morality when northerners and blacks still had slaves.


RelatedBuilders in Boston missing diversity targets for jobs

It's not racism, it's sexism, because women being shorted the most (because there aren't that many to begin with?).

I don't think I did too well on that part.

After graduation:

"Sunday afternoon, more than 800 first-year Brandeis University students moved into their freshman residence halls, marking the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of Boston’s transformation back into collegiate central."


"Move-in week commotion expected in Boston; Local businesses and city officials gear up for the annual invasion of college students" by Catherine Cloutier and Matt Rocheleau Globe Staff  August 29, 2015

City officials vow that the move-in process will run more smoothly this year than in the past. The city has been working with landlords and universities to stagger the moving chaos through Labor Day.

For Boston businesses, the flurry of activity offers opportunity, as last-minute shoppers flock to local stores in search of home essentials, packing supplies, and spicy nourishment for those who lent a hand.

Top selling items hint at a plugged-in generation: power strips, extension cords, and HDMI cables. Cleaning supplies, shower curtains, clothes hangers, toilet seats, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and paint are also big sellers.

In Allston, Alex Salerno, assistant manager at a Domino’s, said his shop was expecting to dish out twice as many pizzas — between 400 and 500 — to hungry movers on Tuesday as students flock back to town.

“All the students come back,” said Salerno. “And students love pizza.”

Boston’s annual move-in week, which will reach its crescendo Monday and Tuesday, will see thousands of students and others moving into — and out of — apartments in the city....


They “try to make it fun and an enjoyable experience instead of a day of misery.”

Ready to settled down for the night in your new slum?

"Housing inspectors sweep through student enclaves; Buildings checked for code violations" by Milton J. Valencia and Jan Ransom Globe Staff  August 30, 2015

The goal of the annual blitz, city officials said, is for inspectors to interact with new students and residents and offer services, to make sure the moving-in process is smooth and trash-free, and that housing — particularly off-campus housing for students — is safe and up to code.

It's not.

But some are skeptical of the mass inspections, which typically occur at the start of each school year and can appear more symbolic than strategic. The critics say more inspections — and citations of properties that violate city rules — are needed.

That's why I'm getting public relations with a big smile from the Globe regarding the tone of these articles. Welcome to Bo$ton, kids!

Les Christos, a 30-year-housing inspector constable, began to check the windows, and their locks, and noticed a broken sash cord. A stain in the ceiling. Then he noticed there was no stove. The tenants told him they haven’t had one for two months, and that the building manager had told them cooking is overrated.

Besides, it might start a fire.

Such oversight has taken on new importance following concerns that students were living in dilapidated units. A Boston Globe Spotlight investigation in 2014 found that the city’s college neighborhoods were riddled with dangerously overcrowded units that went unnoticed, leading to public safety problems. Landlords, meanwhile, had ignored violations so that they could continue to collect rent with little investment....

“This is a fall ritual, where a lot of residents live is substandard housing,” and I'm told the tenants are to blame.


RelatedOvercrowded student housing gets little action from City of Boston

Hey, some live like Kings, but those are the breaks.

"No charges in 2013 fire that killed Boston University student; Critics see little change in off-campus housing conditions" by Todd Wallack, Jenn Abelson and Jonathan Saltzman Globe Staff  August 22, 2015

Prosecutors have decided not to bring criminal charges against the woman who owned the Allston house where a Boston University student died in a fire in 2013, trapped in an illegal upstairs apartment.

Although the landlord, Anna Belokurova, had been cited for housing violations over the years, the Suffolk district attorney’s office concluded none of them were directly related to the death of Binland Lee, a 22-year-old marine science major.

“The code violations did not contribute to the fire or the death caused by the fire,” said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the DA’s office, which launched an investigation shortly after Lee’s death on April 28, 2013.

Critics say the decision represents a broader pattern of reluctance by many local institutions to hold landlords accountable fordangerous housing conditions, despite promises by some officials to take action after a Globe Spotlight Team report on shoddy off-campus student housing last year.

“There is a complete system breakdown,” said Carol Ridge-Martinez, executive director of the Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation, adding that students and low-income renters are particularly vulnerable. “It is disappointing that protecting our residents is not our top priority.”

Belokurova’s attorney denied there were any housing violations at the property, and insisted she had no role in the fatal fire. He blamed it on improperly handled smoking materials.

In a separate case, law enforcement officials also never charged the owners of another overcrowded Allston house on the same street that went up in flames in 2012, forcing a BU student to jump from a third-floor window to escape. The 19-year-old student survived, but was in a coma for two weeks, spent three months recuperating in a hospital, and later suffered double vision and balance problems related to his brain injury.

Separately, Northeastern University officials said they plan to continue doing business with one of the most notorious landlords of college students in the city, Anwar N. Faisal, despite opening a new dormitory with 720 beds early this year. And Boston officials are still mulling how to strengthen the city’s rental housing ordinance, months after Mayor Martin J. Walsh promised to make such a proposal to the City Council.

The Globe Spotlight report last year found that illegal apartments riddle the city’s college neighborhoods, including many in violation of a city zoning ordinance barring more than four full-time undergraduates from sharing a home. Students often report squalid conditions in units, but universities have not built enough new housing to keep up with surging enrollments.

Over the past decade, Northeastern has paid millions to Faisal to lease buildings for use as university dorms while referring other students to private apartments owned by Faisal through an online directory of off-campus housing.

Faisal has received hundreds of tickets for violating city housing codes, and been the target of dozens of lawsuits or criminal complaints in Boston Housing Court. Faisal told the City Council last year that he has stepped up maintenance at the 1,000 apartments he owns in Boston to address complaints.

“Mr. Faisal has proven to be a responsible landlord in the city of Boston and beyond,” his attorney, Joshua Krefetz, told the Globe this week. “He has and will continue to cooperate with the city.”

The Globe went after him -- he's Palestinian -- and some Iranians.

Michael Armini, a Northeastern spokesman, said an outside consulting firm reviewed all of the buildings the university leases from private landlords to use as dorms, including those owned by Faisal, and found no problems other than routine maintenance issues that the college has since addressed.

Armini added that there was “nothing in the report that would have warranted changing the university’s business relationships.’’

Meanwhile, Boston has put off plans to bolster its housing ordinances to help rein in abuses until this fall at the earliest.

Meaning nothing has changed.

In May, Walsh told the Globe that he planned to submit a proposal within two weeks to give inspectors more power to examine overcrowded units (in most cases, inspectors currently need permission from tenants to enter) and make sure landlords who flout the rules are fined.

But three months later, his office said the administration is still meeting with City Council members on how to update the rental housing ordinance.

“It is imperative that we have a policy that works, and the mayor hopes to have a more enforceable ordinance by the fall,” said spokeswoman Bonnie McGilpin.

Boston prosecutors and criminal lawyers said it’s difficult to bring significant criminal charges against landlords after a deadly fire, even in a building with major safety problems.

“These cases are difficult because proving them requires evidence of intentional or reckless conduct, and not just proof that mistakes were made or a person skirted regulations or acted carelessly,” said David Losier, a former Middlesex assistant district attorney who now works at a Boston law firm, Burns & Levinson LLP.

However, there has been at least one recent exception. Several Quincy landlords were convicted of manslaughter after the 2009 deaths of an Iraqi immigrant and his two young sons in a fire in an illegal apartment. Investigators found the smoke detectors were not working and the building had illegal units without the mandatory second exit for use in case of a fire. Former tenants and officials also testified that they had warned the landlords that the problems created a safety hazard.

The Allston building where Lee died also had a history of problems. The Linden Street house, which listed six bedrooms in building plans, actually had 12 bedrooms housing 14 residents, including three in basement spaces that city inspectors had cited as illegal in 2001. After the fatal fire in 2013, city inspectors also cited the owner for running an illegal rooming house and lacking permits for the bedrooms in the basement.

Great $y$tem we have, huh? 


Wark, the spokesman for the Suffolk DA’s office, said it’s not clear that having the additional exit would have helped Lee escape because she was trapped in a third-floor bedroom.

“Was there a reckless act or a failure to act that contributed to Ms. Lee’s death? Because she never made it to the second floor — where the egress could have been a live issue — we could not prove that there was,” Wark said.

He said Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley supports legislation that would subject landlords to fines and prison time for renting out dangerous, illegal apartments. The bill, sponsored by Representative James E. Timilty, a Walpole Democrat, is before the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.

Lee’s family is continuing to press ahead with a civil lawsuit, in which the family has to prove only that the landlord was negligent to potentially obtain monetary damages.

“Whatever decisions the district attorney made in connection with a potential criminal prosecution of Miss Belokurova has nothing to do with the type of proof required to prevail in a civil action,” said Albert L. Farrah Jr., the family’s attorney.

Belokurova’s attorney denied there were any housing violations at the property, and suggested the city’s rule limiting the number of students who could live together would not withstand a court challenge. He also said the fire was caused by the careless disposal of smoking materials, not problems with the building itself.

“The history of problems you cite are fiction,” said Boston real estate lawyer Frank L. Fragomeni Jr. “Anna is also confident that any civil action will also find her to have had no role in the fire and the tragic death of Binland Lee.”


And that is not include the tuition and fee hikes that can really tax you.

Too bad you couldn't find a place like this:

"Huge NorthPoint project advances with $300m deal; 42-acre site bought; plan has housing, offices, labs" by Tim Logan Globe Staff  August 20, 2015

One of the largest remaining parcels of open land near downtown Boston sold Thursday, jump-starting plans for the long-awaited development of office buildings, lab space, and nearly 3,000 apartments.

The 42-acre NorthPoint site, on an old rail yard between the Museum of Science and Interstate 93, is being bought by a San Francisco-area real estate firm, DivcoWest, that specializes in tech-oriented neighborhoods and sees the chance to build one from the ground up in red-hot East Cambridge.

Is the bubble about to burst?

DivcoWest would not say how much it paid for the property, which has been owned since 2010 by an investment fund co-owned by former basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson. But a person familiar with the sale said the price tag was roughly $300 million, which would put it among the most expensive land deals in Greater Boston in recent years.

The site is a rare prize, a large swath of undeveloped land close to the heart of the city and already approved for 4.5 million square feet of building. It offers much of the same potential that Boston officials see at Widett Circle on the other side of downtown, without the daunting infrastructure challenges. And it comes as demand for office space and housing is boiling over in both Kendall Square and central Boston....


Did you see the rent?

Maybe you would be better off renting a room:

"Lawmakers worry owners taking advantage of Airbnb; Short-term rentals may get rules, taxes" by Matt Rocheleau Globe Staff  August 24, 2015

Concerns that the online rental website Airbnb is being used to run substantial lodging businesses while avoiding regulation and taxes.

Another concern: that landlords and investors seeking more profits are turning traditional housing into short-term units, further reducing the housing supply in Boston’s already tight real estate market.

“Right now, this is a completely unregulated industry,” said state Representative Aaron Michlewitz. “People are taking advantage of the situation.”

An Airbnb spokesman said the company is not opposed to some regulation and taxation.

“We want cities to regulate Airbnb and make it easier for regular people to share their home, pay their bills and contribute to their community,” Christopher Nulty said in a statement.


Information for the Globe’s review was collected by a data- extraction company that’s called

Airbnb acknowledges that some people are not renting out their own homes.

A survey of its Boston users released by the company last year found that while 82 percent of users were renting a primary residence, 8 percent were renting an investment property, 6 percent were renting a secondary residence, and 4 percent were renting an in-law unit attached to the primary residence.

Michlewitz, a Democrat from the North End of Boston, said he is among the people who are concerned that some properties previously used for long-term housing have been converted for use solely as short-term rentals, reducing the supply of homes in an already tight and expensive real estate market.

He is cosponsoring a bill that would impose regulations and taxes statewide on the burgeoning short-term rental industry.

“There are people going to Ikea, dressing these places up, never staying there a day, and making a business and significant profit out of them,” said Michlewitz. “Eliminating any type of units obviously hurts the housing stock, especially in downtown Boston.”

Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina said he is pushing for rules at the city level, too, to address the emerging trend.

“I’m not opposed to the business itself,” he said. “The concept is great.

“But I have concerns in terms of investors buying up properties so they can use them for Airbnb. It takes away from the housing stock, and rents go up.”

In other cities, including New York and San Francisco, similar concerns have been raised.

One Everett landlord said that he and his business partner recently converted 13 of the 100 apartments they own across Boston, Everett, and Chelsea from standard yearlong rentals into short-term rentals, and then listed them on Airbnb.

“It’s more profitable for us . . . and we don’t have to deal with the hassle of a regular tenant,” said Jose, 25, who asked that his full name not be published because he fears that officials would try to shut his operation down. “You can easily triple the income going through Airbnb, compared to a regular rental.”

Those involved in the short-term rental industry say they do not believe that the rise of Airbnb and similar sites, including competitors like HomeAway and FlipKey, are to blame for ever-rising rents.


All Done With Uber
Cambridge Cabbies Strike
Car Can Run On Apple Juice

Is that why the price of apple juice has gone up?

“The vast majority of Airbnb hosts are middle-class families sharing the home in which they live and using the extra money to make ends meet,” Nulty said.

And now the bankrupt government wants its cut.

Even with the surging popularity of new Web-based services, short-term rental properties account for “a tiny, tiny fraction of the overall housing stock,” said Matt Curtis, director of government relations for the vacation-rental website HomeAway.

And yet it is an big A1 deal to the Globe.


Paul Sacco, who is president and chief executive of the Massachusetts Lodging Association, warned, “This is ultimately going to hurt the hotel industry, hurt the job market and the economy, and hurt the local tax revenue.”

A recent survey by Airbnb found that 30 percent of people who booked a stay in Boston using the site said they would not have visited the city or stayed as long as they did if Airbnb was not an option.

See: Boston sets record for overseas tourist visits in 2014

Even with the costs?

However, advocates of short-term rentals say they do not believe they threaten the hotel industry, which has more than 19,000 rooms around Boston and one of the highest occupancy rates in the country.

The short-term rental sites say they attract a different kind of customer....

People have long rented vacation homes and private residences on a short-stay basis, largely without regulation, taxes, or anyone paying attention.

Oh, yeah? How did humanity survive?

Ironically, the advent of new websites like Airbnb has made the process more convenientbut at the same time, it has put a spotlight on both longstanding and new forms of short-term renting.

I $ee who is $hining that $potlight.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts and elsewhere say they hope that with new regulations, the right balance can be struck.

“It’s a new, exciting way of doing business, so we don’t want to stifle that, but we want to make sure it’s done safely and properly,” said Michlewitz.

And you get your cut!


RelatedAirbnb should be encouraged, and regulated

It's all part of the market

Time for orientation:

"Suffolk president to tap alumni, stress local ties" by Laura Krantz Globe Staff  August 20, 2015

Suffolk University’s new president, Margaret McKenna, plans to tap the college’s legions of graduates like never before, for money and connections she hopes will bring the school a new level of financial and academic stability.

In her first expansive interview since she became president in July, McKenna said the college will redouble its efforts to be a top choice for Boston-area students, in the face of such formidable rivals as Boston College, Boston University, and Northeastern University.

Suffolk’s fierce new advocate takes over at a critical juncture for the university. It commands a relevant location and a powerful alumni base.

The campus stretches to the State House, City Hall, Suffolk Superior Courthouse, the Common, and the Financial District. Its graduates have gone on to rule parts of the city, state, and the local business world.

In recent years, however, Suffolk has fallen victim to troubling trends in higher education as well as a few foibles of its own.

It has ended recent years with budget surpluses but has big debt payments, a small endowment, and declining enrollment, especially at the law school, and it has become less selective in its admissions process.

Suffolk also has faced instability in its top office. McKenna is the school’s fourth leader in five years. Longtime president David Sargent retired abruptly in 2010 amid outrage over his lavish pay, which totaled $2.8 million in the 2006-07 academic year.

When money junkies are at the head of education and health institutions, it's over.

In her office, McKenna swapped the bulky desk of the president in favor of a nimble, barely cluttered table. Suffolk, too, should be nimble, she said, and “focus, focus, focus” on what it does best.

To be nimble, the college will need to rely less on tuition, which now accounts for 95 percent of its revenue, and beef up its endowment, which now stands at $195 million. BU and BC, for example, have endowments of more than $1 billion.

Although Suffolk graduates sit in the city’s top government offices and skyscrapers, many have not been courted for donations.

Graduates include Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Secretary of State William F. Galvin, and entrepreneurs and executives at law firms and corporations.

“I don’t think people have been asked. I think it’s that simple,” McKenna said. Last year the school raised $1.5 million. This year she wants to raise $5 million, minimum.

She said Suffolk must also cut weaker or overlapping programs. She counts the law school, especially its intellectual property program, and the public policy and administration and urban sustainability programs among its best assets.

McKenna, a former federal civil rights attorney, longtime president of Lesley University, and chief of the Walmart Foundation, said the school has a duty to be accessible, both to students and leaders in the city.

When Evans, the police commissioner, wants to know what research exists on body cameras, when Mayor Martin J. Walsh wants insight about a citizens’ review board for the police, or if Governor Charlie Baker wants to know what economic sector will soon need more workers, she wants them to call Suffolk.

“We care about those issues that make big cities work,” she said.

McKenna, originally from Rhode Island, is by many standards a local and understands the city and its players. She was tapped as president after another top contender, Martin T. Meehan, accepted a job as president of the University of Massachusetts system.

McKenna signed a five-year contract and will make about $650,000, according to the school.

“People are pretty excited about her,” said John C. Berg, an environmental studies and government professor who has taught at Suffolk for 42 years.

Colin Loiselle, a senior political science major and student body president, said, “She seems willing to make hard decisions to get results.” Loiselle said McKenna has pledged to meet with him every two weeks.

In recent years, faculty have faced pay freezes, though many received a $1,000 bonus this year. A new policy that professors said could lead to dismissal of tenured faculty drew widespread criticism.

The school, with 8,321 students, has $353 million in outstanding debt, an annual budget of $235 million, and total assets of $690 million, including the value of its buildings. Undergraduate tuition is $34,000, less than nearby private schools, but higher than UMass Boston, which has a similar mission to educate locals.

Law school tuition is $46,000, compared with $25,000 for in-state students at the UMass law school in Dartmouth.

Suffolk’s physical presence is also changing. It sold two Beacon Hill buildings and this fall will open a $62 million academic building at 20 Somerset St., closer to Downtown Crossing. More undergraduates than expected enrolled at Suffolk this year, so the school is renting 70 dorm beds from colleges in the Fenway neighborhood.

As the new president takes the helm, she wants members of the board of trustees to step back into their traditional role as long-term planners.

In recent years, board members had more daily involvement, especially during the various presidential transitions.

Board chairman Andrew Meyer said trustees so far are impressed with McKenna, saying “she has a positive force and a great presence.”

Law school alumnus Michael J. McCormack, a local attorney and former Boston city councilor, said the school’s focus should still be on educating people who stick around.

“[Suffolk Law graduates] come out with a chip on their shoulder,” said McCormack, who grew up in public housing and went on to start his own firm. “There isn’t a job at a white-shoe law firm waiting for them, so they have to come out and show how they’re tougher and scrappier and smarter.’’


RelatedColleges across region team up to cut health care costs

Well, you kids are done for the day. Be careful riding the bike home. Make sure you shift properly and don't cut any corners. That can lead to problems.

So what's on tap for tonight?

"Government study finds peak months for college students’ initial use of various drugs" by Carla K. Johnson Associated Press  August 28, 2015

CHICAGO — College students tend to experiment with specific types of drugs for the first time during certain times of year, according to a new analysis. 

Just say no, kids.

College students tend to try stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin for the first time in November, December, or April, according to the examination of 12 years of government survey data. They may believe the attention deficit disorder medications will help them ace their exams, even though there is no medical evidence such drugs, which can be addictive, enhance performance.

Aren't those prescription drugs? I'll bet they are on Cloud 9.

Students are most likely to try marijuana, inhalants, and alcohol for the first time during the summer, according to the report released Thursday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which examined data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

First use of cigarettes peaks in June, September, and October. Underage college students who have never tried alcohol before are most likely to have it for the first time in June. First-time use of cigars, marijuana, and inhalants is highest in June and July, and the first nonmedical use of prescription painkillers happens most often in December.

While many American teenagers start drinking in high school, the report suggests many do not. About 1,200 underage students each day, on average, try alcohol for the first time while in college, according to the analysis.

The real gateway drug.

Other reports using the same survey have found the average age of first alcohol use is about 17 in the United States, with other drug initiation tending to be later.

First marijuana use happens at about age 18 and first nonmedical use of prescription stimulants or painkillers typically happens at about age 21 to 22, according to the 2013 survey.

The views are changing on the weed.

The new findings suggest that prevention messages could be targeted at the months when college students are most vulnerable, said Brendan Saloner, an addiction researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who wasn’t involved in the study.

‘‘For most of the substances, what you’re seeing is a summer peak. Young people may have more time on their hands and less supervision,’’ Saloner said. ‘‘For stimulants, first use seems to peak around finals. There’s a lot of anxiety and stress around final exams and a push for students to do as well as they can.’’


Maybe you want to rent a movie and stay home?

RelatedTardy 111 times, N.J. teacher keeps job

He must have been partying, too. 

No apple for him.

"Contract keeps BPS staff stuck in school, with little work to do" by Jeremy C. Fox Globe Staff  August 19, 2015

Dozens of Boston Public Schools staff members who support students with special needs are spending two weeks sitting in a school cafeteria with little work to do — some passing the time by watching Netflix or shopping online — members of the group said Tuesday.

Related: Teacher's Lounge

The department is paying the employees, who are known as applied behavior analysis specialists, because their contract classifies them as year-round employees, requiring them to work several weeks beyond the usual academic calendar, according to school officials.

The specialists, who are in the middle of contract talks with the school system, are required to spend two weeks between summer programs and the academic year at the Joseph Lee K-8 School in Dorchester. But there are no students there needing services, so some of the specialists say they are filling their days however they wish.

“Reading books, talking, studying for tests, paying bills,” said one specialist, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retribution. “Whatever you can think of.”

The group has been assigned to the cafeteria because most schools in the district are closed to teaching staff so custodians can prepare them for the fall.

A Boston Public Schools spokesman said in a statement the department is “working to find a better site.” But, he said, the specialists should be, and have been, working.

“The site that the ABA specialists were assigned to today was staffed by supervisors,” said Richard Weir, the spokesman, “who made themselves available to their employees and followed up with them throughout the course of the day to support them with completing their activities.

“None of the supervisors observed any of the specialists engaging in activities unrelated to their work,” Weir continued.

The specialists work closely with children, mostly those with autism spectrum disorders, to develop better learning skills and reduce problem behavior.

Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union, said the specialists have spent parts of the past three summers in makeshift conditions with little work because the School Department has dragged its feet in negotiations. The specialists voted in spring 2013 to join the union, and contract talks began that June. But more than two years later, there has been “scant progress,” Stutman said.

Because they are on a 12-month schedule, their old contract requires several weeks of work beyond the school year.

Stutman said the union is trying to negotiate a work year for the specialists that better matches the needs of students.

“They don’t want to get paid to do nothing,” he said. “They want to get paid, and they want to do something positive.”

Weir said Superintendent Tommy Chang “recognizes the importance of coming to an agreement with the Boston Teachers Union on the terms of the contract for the ABA specialists.”

Especially with the budget deficit the schools are running.

In an interview, Monique McKenna, a specialist at the Jackson/Mann K-8 School, said the extra days allow her to catch up on data collection and completing reports.

McKenna said she had spent Tuesday productively, discussing her fall caseload with a program director and preparing forms for recording student data. But she did not expect to have enough work to keep her busy for the rest of the summer.

Others described treatment that one might expect for students in detention. They are required to remain all day in the cafeteria; the rest of the school, except restrooms, is off limits.

“You get in trouble if they see you even walking around to stretch,” a specialist said.

AmeriKa really is an authoritarian state these days.

The cafeteria contains only the usual tables with attached benches, so some specialists have improvised, they said.

“People are bringing in their beach chairs, so they have back support,” one said.

Carolyn Kain, chairwoman of Boston SpedPac, which advocates for children with special needs, said specialists need to prepare for the fall.

“If they’re not working, then that’s a problem, but it’s not that they haven’t been given tasks,” said Kain, who has a daughter receiving ABA services. “If people are slacking off . . . then I would say that that’s a supervisory issue that needs to be addressed.”

Kain said she believes specialists are complaining that they lack work because they are seeking a contract with a shorter year, something she said would interrupt the specialists’ work with children.

“They’re just trying to make it seem like it’s a wasted period of time, to . . . give them a little leverage,” she said.

It's the perfect place to talk about it.


I see the first day has ended -- just like this post.