- Created on Thursday, 28 June 2012 14:19
- Written by Office of Tito Jackson
On the evening of Wednesday, June 27, 2012, District 7 City Councillor Tito Jackson and At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley convened a community meeting at the Yawkey Boys & Girls Club in Roxbury. Their goal was to amplify the voices of community members and stakeholders in an ongoing discussion about the future of Madison Park Vocational Technical High School. At-Large City Councilor Felix G. Arroyo also attended the meeting to show support for the school and it's community. District 4 City Councillor Charles Yancey was unable to attend but also helped to organize the event. Roxbury residents, members of the Madison Park High School community and various partners attended the meeting to join the conversation about what the school's success will look like and the ways in which it can improve educational opportunities for students across the City of Boston.
The town meeting was held in response to the publishing of the Madison Park Technical Vocational High School Review by the Boston Public Schools in January of 2012. This report shed light on the shortcomings of the school, which include a lack of actual vocational training, low levels of student achievement, and a culture of low expectations. The report's frank assessment of the school's shortcomings also launched the Technical School's conversion into an innovation school, a change that teachers approved in May. That same month, Mr. Charles McAfee announced his retirement after having been headmaster of Madison Park for twelve years. Shortly there after, the Boston Public Schools announced it's search for his replacement.
At the meeting, Councillors Jackson, Pressley and Arroyo made opening statements in which they expressed their support for Madison Park High and their belief that the school can improve to help its students achieve academically and vocationally. Councillor Jackson specifically called for a national search for a new leader at the school to ensure that the necessary changes are implemented. He reminded attendees of the need for community partnerships to increase students' opportunity to engage in hands-on training in their chosen trade. Those valuable experiences only make students more employable after graduating.
Councillor Arroyo said that leadership and investment are required to ensure that Boston has the premiere vocational technical high school in the State.
Following the opening statements by the Councillors, members of the audience, most with ties to Madison Park, spoke passionately about the issues they saw with the school, and what they believed needs to happen to set the school on the right path. Speakers echoed the need for outstanding leadership in order to transform the school and reminded everyone in the room of the community's strength and desire to help.
In response to a request by an audience member, Brian Doherty of the Building Pathways Pre-Apprenticeship Program volunteered to be a permanent liaison between the high school and various labor organizations. These responsibilities would include guiding students through the union application and training process.
Three young people also testified eloquently. 17-year-old Devon Dookhrans (pictured left), currently enrolled in Boston Public Schools, demonsrated that students are capable of and interested in making decisions that will shape a school's culture and its progress. He said teachers and administrators should challenge and engage the young people. The meeting demonstrated the strength of the Madison Park High community and its belief in the bright future of the school.