Families and Children Need Not Apply in the “New Boston”

The school start times announced a few weeks ago are just the latest indignity tossed at parents of schoolchildren in Boston over the last 20 years.

One of my favorite quotes came from the Sun where I read about a parent who was benefitting from the change with high schoolers, and also being hurt by the change with a grade schooler. She wondered aloud about how it is that the Boston schools could have gotten it so wrong.

Shouldn’t we all have been asking this for the past two decades?

Things weren’t this messed up in Boston Public long ago. The education was solid, the buildings were serviceable, sports programs were relevant, and it was a practical organization.

Obviously, the schools and the entire city struggled with racism and segregation issues back then, but many still received a quality education without all the hassle of today’s confusing and ineffective School Department.

The fact that it ran so much better in the past presents even more of a conundrum because there were so many more students and children in the city back then – and a heck of a lot more yellow buses driving around.

But enough beating on the hapless school department and their new best friend – the eggheads at the MIT mathematics department (who not only screwed up the start times, but also screwed up the bus scheduling earlier this year).

The brass tacks issue here, though, isn’t school start times, it’s the fact that children are not welcome in our new city.

I realized  this as I watched a meeting in Eastie this week with a relative – who asked me to come for backup. As an aside, no true Bostonian goes to a controversial meeting alone. You’ve got to come with a crowd of scowling folks with tightly crossed arms – ready to sit up at attention and ‘boo’ when the time comes so that the City Hall types will feel the added pressure of an angry crowd.

It’s essential to properly sell the outrage.

I’m real good at crossing my arms and scowling, so I took the trip through the TWT over to Noddles.

There at the meeting was a man at the end of his rope, crying, wondering how he was going to be able to get his kids to school at 9:30 instead of 7:15. Between sobs, he explained that his first grader was too young to be waiting on the street corner alone in the morning at 8:45 a.m. He had to be at work by 7:45 a.m.

His employer told him that if he had to come late because of his kids, he would simply be fired. There were plenty of other people who didn’t have kids who would do the job, he relayed.

And here’s the point (eight paragraphs into the column!), this City and its restaurants and stores and workplaces do not want children around. They don’t want parents and they don’t care about the difficulties parents in the city frequently combat. Compounding that is the fact that there are so many people in workplaces and in the public  sphere that don’t have the family experience – so they don’t know it and don’t really care about it.

It’s just a ‘next up’ attitude.

Boston has become such a young city – full of people without any responsibilities or tie-downs. It’s a swinging city with folks that will work all hours of the day and never have to consider having to pick up an 8-year-old by 4 p.m. on a workday.

Employers love that; they have no patience for a parent who is struggling with their children’s schedule – or for that matter a person trying to take care of an aging parent. They want people with no ties and no family and no problems.

So that’s who they hire, and anyone not fitting the mold had better conform or be ready for negative annual reviews.

Boston has become a place that has no patience for children, could care less about parents, and would rather they all stayed away – from the maître ‘d’s to the superintendent of schools.

I see it everywhere I go.

To me, as an old Boston guy, that’s about as sad as it comes.

Because this city was built on families and the laughter of little ones, not cocktail parties and mandatory late nights at the office.

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