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Farewell Message From Superintendent Chang
Dear Boston Public Schools Community:
It has been my great honor to serve the youth of Boston and I am proud of the work we’ve done together over the last three years. On the Nation’s Report Card, in numerous areas, Boston has been one of only a handful of districts that have made progress. Gaps of achievement and opportunity have begun to close. That’s a credit to our teachers, principals, staff, and families — and I’m proud of it. But no one can or should be satisfied with where we stand, and with some crucial building blocks in place, the time will never be better for the next leader to take the helm.
I’m grateful to the people of Boston for the opportunity to serve here — and for what that opportunity means about what’s possible in America. Thirty-seven years ago, as an immigrant from Taiwan, I showed up in public schools without a word of English. Public school teachers guided me in a journey that gave me one of the greatest responsibilities a human being can have —the education of a city’s children. In this moment more than ever, I want every immigrant child to know that’s the country America strives to be, must be, and will be.
The youth of Boston inspire me each and every day. They are truly the future leaders, scholars, entrepreneurs, and innovators of tomorrow. I am proud of the accomplishments of my leadership team who have worked closely with school leaders and teachers over the last three years to serve the students of this great city. Together, we have worked tirelessly each and every day to ensure better life outcomes for young people.
Since my first day as superintendent, I have worked to improve the system of education in the City of Boston. A stronger school system means a stronger Boston. In partnership with you, and guided by the values of equity, coherence, and innovation, we are getting better outcomes for youth.
Over the last 3 years:
- Graduation rates have increased from 70.7% in 2015 to 72.7% in 2017 while dropout rates have decreased from 4.4% in 2015 to 3.6% in 2017. We have more high-performing schools than ever before in district history, with a combined 46 schools ranked among the highest-performing in the state (Level 1 and Level 2).
- Suspensions have significantly decreased as we have codified restorative justice practices and ensured that all schools are safe, welcoming and sustaining learning environments. We have fought courageously for our immigrant students, LGBTQ youth, and homeless youth while leading on important issues around school safety and access to safe drinking water. We created the Office of Social Emotional Learning and Wellness and won a four-year Wallace Foundation grant to promote social-emotional development of students.
- We have laid a strong foundation for academic growth and closing opportunity and achievement gaps by instituting the Essentials for Instructional Equity, a coherent, research-based vision of instruction and related competencies. Through Excellence for All, more students in grades 4-5 now have access to more rigorous curriculum and enriched learning opportunities in an inclusive setting. We have fully implemented Extended Learning Time to 57 schools serving 23,000 students in grades K-8. We have supported our English Learners (EL) by ensuring delivery of services and investing in quality EL programs. We also launched the first-in-the-nation Haitian Creole pre-K dual-language program at the Mattahunt Elementary School. Lastly, we have instituted Exam School Initiative reforms that have dramatically increased participation and acceptance rates for Black and Latino children.
- We have expanded access to healthy and appetizing food by bringing in Revolution Foods, launching the Hub and Spoke school kitchen program and investing in year-round learning opportunities through the "5th Quarter of Learning" to engage over 12,000 students in the summer months.
I want to thank Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston School Committee for having faith in me to lead this incredible school district and serve the families and students of this great city, the birthplace of public education.
Lastly, I want to personally thank the entire Boston Public Schools community. To the BPS staff, thank you for your dedication and commitment to our students. We give our entire self emotionally, intellectually, professionally and personally to serving youth. Continue to do so.
I thank all of you for the opportunity to be of service to you.
Tommy Chang, Ed.D.