A host of schools in BPS suffer from underfunding and it has become evident. Walking into schools, one sees broken lockers, cracked chairs, graffitied desks and little to no hallway space. Other schools may have physical defects that are not as visible, such as non-functioning intercoms or a lack of adequate teachers and nurses. Without these essential resources, BPS students don’t have the same opportunities as students in suburban school districts that are located just a few miles from Boston.
The Foundation Budget that dictates how much money is allocated to districts across the state is 25 years old, but legislators have been unable to agree on a bill to update it. There are three proposals: The governor’s bill, The House bill introduced by Rep. Paul Tucker, and the Senate’s Education PROMISE Act, introduced by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz. The latter is the only legislation proposed that would support young people and their immediate needs, and it should be passed and implemented immediately.
Youth-led organizations support the PROMISE Act in part because it’s the only proposal that includes all of the Foundation Budget Review Commission recommendations. The commission was tasked with recommending budget updates that would provide students with more equitable resources. It called for increased supports for low-income students, English Language Learners and special education programs, along with improvements to teacher healthcare. 
The PROMISE Act also includes a District Student Aid increment that would close the gap between current budgets and a new-and-improved foundation budget in each district, along with mandating a regulated amount of funding for all Massachusetts districts. The successful implementation of this bill would increase opportunities by providing students with better supplies and resources, new sports teams, more extracurriculars and more comprehensive and robust course options. This would ultimately result in happier and more successful students, competent and satisfied teachers, and a healthier school climate.
Underfunding has a strong negative impact on students. Many believe that this is the best education we can receive because it’s all we have been exposed to and provided with, but it is not sufficient and we can have better. Students can and should stand up and speak up for policies like the PROMISE Act that would benefit us. If students want to see improvements to school funding, they can also vote and visit local legislators at the State House. It is the house of the people and students should take advantage of that.
Students have to fight for what they deserve because it’s the only way to get what we are owed. The PROMISE Act would be a step in the right direction. 

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Dear Rising Freshmen,
  It's time to get used to that name for us: freshmen. We will no longer be little middle schoolers that worry about who is in what relationship, or what new drama spiced up over the summer. For some of us, entering high school will be a new start or a new building that we will travel to every morning. It's time for us to let go of the hand we’ve been holding onto and get ready to walk on our own. Since not all of us have older siblings in high school or older friends, we don’t really know what high school is going to be like. In order to learn more, I spoke to a couple of high school students around the area about their experiences, and with rising freshmen about what they feel and expect before entering high school.   

What do eighth graders think high school is going to be like?

“To be honest, I don't know, and I’d like to keep an open mindset because I am ready for anything in high school.”
-Jacklyn Alvarez, eighth grade, Match Public Charter Middle School 

“I think it will be too much work. They will have more expectations from us in high school than in middle school, which will make it more stressful.”
-Sarai Ramirez, eighth grade, New Mission High School 

“High school is going to be more difficult, but it’s going to be worth it when you get to college and all the AP classes were helpful.”
- Adrian Santana, eighth grade, Match Public Charter Middle School

What are you not ready for about for high school?

“Tests—like the SAT and whatever college prep we need to go through—those are the things that I am scared of and I'm trying to avoid, but can't.”
 -Jacklyn Alvarez, eighth grade, Match Public Charter Middle School 

“I'm not ready for the school work or meeting new people. Not because I don't like meeting new people, it’s because I'm not comfortable with new environments.”
-Julia Gouboth, eighth grade, Match Public Charter Middle School 

“I’d say the drama.”
- Sarai Ramirez, eighth grade, New Mission High School

What advice do high school students have for the incoming freshmen?

“Try to connect with your parents because they are [the] only ones that will support you. Also, say ‘Hi’ first in the hallways, even if you don’t get one back. It gives you confidence and makes people know you are easygoing and fun.” 
-Lila Jane Carr, 10th grade, Needham High School

“Try not to get overwhelmed with work. Remember, all the other freshmen are in the same boat.”
-Stephen Carr, 12th grade, Needham High School

“I’d say to lower your expectations a little bit, and if you're going to make mistakes, do it while you’re still a freshman.”
-Gabriella Diplan-Lopez, 12th grade, Roxbury Prep High School 

“Do all your work! Don't think that at the beginning of the year you can slack off because it will hurt you at the end.”
- Chandler Farias, ninth grade, Match Public Charter High School

“Try to be cordial with everyone, especially if you are going to be spending time in the same classroom with at least 25 percent of the kids for the next four years. You should be polite to everyone, [...] high school is a chance to have a fresh start, be yourself and focus on what's important—like school work.” 
-Yasmin Mohamed, 10th grade,  Snowden International High School

What do you wish you would have known before entering high school?

“That staying home on a Friday or Saturday night isn’t the worst thing that’s ever going to happen. It took me a while to realize that I can still have fun on the weekends without my friends.”
-Lila Jane Carr, 10th grade, Needham High School
“There is always something that you can do to get your grades up. Always explore all of your options and do your homework. Its gonna suck, but like, when you get to college everything gets better.”
-Gabriella Diplan-Lopez 12th grade, Roxbury Prep High School  

“Freshman grades are a quarter of your whole high school career. When you apply to college and are sending in your transcripts, having really good grades freshman year counts.” 
-Yasmin Mohamed, 10th grade, Snowden International High School 

Overall, we should know that things don't always go as planned and that high school is nothing like the Disney movie High School Musical says it's going to be unless you make it that way. I am lucky enough to have many acquaintances in high school who tell me what it’s like, but this isn't about me. This is for those who don’t have older people to guide them. And yes, I know this might not be applicable to all high schools, but this is just to give you an idea. High school is a place where we will all grow and figure out how to handle things. It may take a while, but we will all get there.

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As citizens, it is our duty to attend school. There are teachers showing up every day educating youth, even if the youth don’t want to be there. I think sometimes we fail to realize how lucky we are to have teachers who care. Eager to learn more about teaching in BPS, I sat down with my former history teacher, Thomas Vascensolos, who currently works at John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science.

Were you born in Boston?
Technically no, I was born in the Boston area. Cambridge to be specific.

So did you decide to move here for opportunities?
Well right now I live in Somerville and I decided to work in Boston because Boston has a lot of teaching jobs. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, so I applied for various positions in and around Boston, and I just so happened to receive an offer within Boston itself.

Was teaching always your dream job?
It actually was not always my dream job. When I was very young, I thought about potentially becoming a doctor, then I realized I wasn't really passionate about that. So I decided to go into finance and accounting, and I did that for a few years. I'm still passionate when it comes to economics and finance and just keeping up with what's going on in the news and the economy, but for a full-time job, I decided to become a teacher.

What inspires you in your work?
Some of my teachers growing up. I also read many books on teaching and education and that pushed me into the education field.

What is the achievement you're most proud of?
I'm actually the first person in my family to graduate from college, and then I went on to obtain a master’s degree. I'm very proud of that.

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Courtesy of Mark Osorio
Thomas Mabine sits in the lobby waiting upon my arrival. I’m walking to the community center in Roxbury, almost 10 minutes late due to MBTA issues. As his manager is blowing up my phone, I continue to walk faster. As I arrive at the center, Mabine greets me with so much enthusiasm, like I wasn’t 10 minutes late. The 20-year-old comedian is about 6 feet tall, and he has short black hair. He is wearing the sweater of a friend that he was promoting.
My first time watching one of Mabine’s videos on Instagram was hilarious. It was a video of him eating off his friend’s plate and his friend got “mad” and threw the tray of food at him. I really thought he was funny. When I got the chance to meet him I was so excited.
Mabine grew up in the South End, and he started entertaining almost a year ago. Most of his life, he was a class clown and that’s how he got into being a comedian. Mabine went to Fenway High, and he used to play basketball before he started to entertain others. 
“All my life, I was a class clown,” Mabine said. “I like making people laugh, I don't know I just love it.”
Mabine did not have a plan B when starting his comedian career. Also, his mom did not have any faith in his career — she did not like what he chose as his path. “My mom hated it,” Mabine said. “People would come up to her like, ‘Yo, your son is doing this and that,’ making fun of me.” But, Mabine explained that her feelings slowly changed. “Now it's a positive. She still [doesn't] like it, but she wants me to have a backup plan.” 
Mabine and I leave the center so we can go take pictures. We start in front of the building, and his manager says they would look nice on the track across the street. We go, and they come out amazingly. As we finish up, Mabine talks about getting in contact with friends to make more skits. He tells me about comedy, “You can do it, just be consistent and have faith in yourself. You can do it.”

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Courtesy of Darwin Soto
It was 4:46 pm when I walked into Carla Bethancourt ’s apartment, which was mostly empty except for a bed and some chairs because she is getting ready to move to Brookline. She walked out of her room in her casual, comfortable, home clothes. 
Bethancourt went to West Roxbury Academy for high school. She moved to an apartment building in Hyde Park—where I also live—when she was 20-years-old. “I moved to Hyde Park because it was more peaceful. It was a bigger apartment, and since I was still going to school I liked the fact it was closer to the train station,” she said. 
When she first moved into the building 10 years ago, she started to notice bad things such as neighbors playing loud music and the stairs being dirty. “I don't remember how many neighbors I’ve had or how many times I had to call 911 on them to put the music down,” she said. 
Bethancourt tried to fix the loud music issue herself. “I've spoken to the Hyde Park committee and gave them information about what's going on in my building specifically, but none of that worked,” she said. Instead, she just got used to the music and decided to ignore it until she moves out.
Bethancourt is now 30-years-old and works full-time at Bank of America. Before she got to where she is in life right now, she struggled a little bit by working at Stop & Shop and many other low-paying jobs. She is now looking forward to a new start in Brookline. “Hopefully my neighbors are great,” she joked.

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