Menino Speaks on City’s Youth
Published: Thursday, February 10, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Last night the Yawkey Center hosted Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino who spoke about Boston youth as a part of the sophomore Presidential Scholars' project, "Revisiting Boston," which seeks to create a better understanding of the city.
Menino, whose speech drew a significant audience, emphasized the importance of supporting the entire Boston community.
"I've been the mayor for 17 years now, and each and every day I learn something new about what the city is doing," Menino said. "It's so important that when you have a job, it's a job that, when you go to bed at night, you feel like you accomplished something. You could go sit someplace and make a lot of money but money isn't the most important thing. It's how you help people, what you do for people's lives. That's why I like my job as mayor."
Menino discusses how the diversity of Boston affects its education system.
"Boston is a minority-majority city," Menino said. "We're 52 percent minority. That diversity is what makes Boston such an interesting city."
The mayor focused on his obligation to the youth of Boston and his dedication to them.
"The young people are the future of this city," he said. "There are a lot of issues that deal with young people – public safety, public health, and summer jobs, but I'm not going to talk about what matters a lot, I'm going to talk about what matters most. And that's the education of our children."
Menino said that the most important thing the city of Boston does is educate its children.
"The problem with getting me up here on stage is that I always want to talk about education," he said. "That's because education is the most important thing we can do in our society."
He focused on the need to provide effective education for all children, including those in the inner city.
"Here in Boston we have one of the best urban school districts in the country," he said. "But just think that only 61 percent of our students graduate. I think education is the civil rights issue of our time. High school graduates live longer, healthier, safer, and more productive lives. Raising the graduation rate in Boston from 61 percent to 90 percent for the next decade will transform the future prospects for thousands of our young people."
Menino said that not only the children of Boston benefit from better education, but so does the city.
"Our children's future depends on their ability to have a chance to improve their education," Menino said. "Our city's future also depends on that. Great cities need great economic diversity and great public schools to build it."
Menino also said that the strength of a city's education drives its economy and its ability to innovate. That innovation, he said, is what keeps a city from falling apart and keeps it a place where people want to live.
He said that he is very dedicated to the cause of the education of children, especially those who don't have many opportunities.
"If you go to the Boston public schools, we don't discriminate," he said. "There are a lot of schools out there who really don't take everyone. They pick and choose. We take every kid who walks through that door. That's the difference between us and some of those other schools that get a lot of credit. We don't drop kids out of our senior class because they're not going to graduate."
The mayor spoke about a variety of programs that the city has created in order to give opportunities to these types of students. If a student is just shy of being able to graduate from high school, there is a program, co-created by the mayor, where he or she can go to school in the summer and graduate later in August. This program recently graduated 250 young people.
In order to increase the number of students who decide to go on to college, the mayor created a program called "Success Boston," which takes students graduating from Boston public high schools and prepares them for college during the summer, helping them to understand what to expect. Additionally, twice a year he speaks with the students and listens to what the city can do better to help them.
Menino, throughout his talk, mentioned his dedication to every child in the city of Boston and said that he champions for their success. He said that almost half of his budget goes to education.
"A lot of these young people don't have anyone to help them," he said. "They come from single parent families. They have a lot of issues like that and they need our support. That is why we, the city of Boston, [are] working so closely with them."
"We, as a city, have to work with them to give them opportunities. I take it as my obligation," he said.
Menino also said that he tries to include the children of immigrants, with programs that educate both the parents and the children.
"If you think about kids who come from another place, and their parents come with them, but their parents want them to be back in their former place. They don't want to Americanize," he said. "That's a huge issue we face in certain parts of our community so we try to work very closely to educate them and to try to educate the parents to help give support to the young person to work on their education. We have to work on that issue there are certain parts of our population. The parents want to stay back where they came from. They love living in America but they don't want their children to be Americanized and that's so unfortunate for the child."