Do you see underfunding in your school? Would you like to see environmentally friendly buildings that last longer than the facilities we’re currently learning in? Do you think schools could be structured differently or more efficiently? The BuildBPS plan sets out to answer these questions.
BuildBPS is a strategic, ten year, billion dollar plan for investments and changes across the Boston Public Schools (BPS) district. The main focus is to improve Boston’s existing school buildings with features like motion sensor lights and efficient recycling, and build new facilities that meet 21st century standards. The plan looks for ways to revamp existing buildings in a “green” way, meaning they will be environmentally friendly. These new and retrofitted buildings have the potential to save money and energy, which is good for the environment and the district budget.
BuildBPS a “living plan”, meaning it is still being written and revised using community feedback, which allows the community to play a role in this process. 
As we all know, the West Roxbury Educational Complex is shutting down at the end of the school year because the building is falling apart. This is not something we want to see happen again. We do not want great school communities shutting down or separating due to preventable problems becoming too big to manage.
 We are calling on youth, parents, and anyone that wants to help BPS. We encourage young people to join our weekly BSAC meeting every Monday to see what we are about and find ways you can speak up at your school and make changes. If we speak up now about issues in our schools, we can potentially stop another school from closing because of avoidable disrepair.
If you aren’t comfortable speaking to someone of higher authority, feel free to talk to a BSAC representative—we are here to help! If you see an issue at your school, your BSAC rep can bring that issue back to our committee meetings, contact people within the district who can help solve the problem and ensure student voice is heard throughout the process. Another option is to submit an anonymous grievance through our web-based app BostonStudentRights.org










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Cover Story
The Price Our Teachers Pay
As the minutes ticked down from 8:45 a.m., students began to pile up in the third floor hallway of Fenway High School, wondering where their math teacher was. Although they were glad to have extra time before the start of class, the students were beginning to feel anxious when Chadwick Johnson finally reached the top of the stairs. Johnson arrived 10 minutes late to his 9th grade Algebra 2 class. His reason: he was attending a nearby protest for teachers’ rights.
The protest Johnson attended was for a contract of teacher rights and for the improvement of the schools. This includes smaller class sizes, enough desks for the students, full time librarians and nurses—and higher pay. According to The Washington Post, 73 percent [of Americans] have expressed that they would support public school teachers in their community if they went on strike for higher pay.
The amount that teachers make has always been a debated topic. Although it is true that most teachers in Boston are fortunate enough to live comfortably, it is no secret that the same cannot be said for other states. With the recent teacher protests across the country, national teacher wage inequality is rising to the surface. For example, according to CNBC, teachers in Oklahoma earn an annual mean wage of $42,460, while teachers in Alaska can earn up to $82,020.
Although our local teachers do get paid well, they still face challenges, especially with Boston’s high cost of living. Boston is one of the most expensive cities in the U.S., and it’s catching up with the teachers. 
Rodolfo Morales is currently a principal for the Phineas Bates Elementary School in Roslindale. He began his educational career at the Hurley K-8 Dual Language School and at the Hernandez School as a teacher, then moved his way up to his principal title. As a former teacher and principal, Morales understands the financial struggle of a teacher, both from a personal and administrative point of view. 
“There have been some big shifts in Boston, including the pandering to affluent transplants,” Morales said. “This has made it challenging for many lifelong Bostonians to stay in Boston. Gentrification has hit the city hard. It seems that each year, I know fewer and fewer teachers that can afford to stay in the city.” 
While many BPS teachers’ salaries fall within the $80,000-$100,000 range, a study by research site SmartAsset estimated that rent for the average two-bedroom apartment in Boston costs nearly $40,300 per year. This means that a single renter will need an income of at least $143,800. There are many people who believe all teachers deserve more than this.
Siri Carr is a teacher at Match Middle School. She has worked as a teacher for three years, and earns $52,500. Although she earns a comfortable salary, Carr believes that a teacher’s work is worth more than they often earn. 
“I think teachers should be paid on par with how much doctors are paid, because I think there are a lot of parallels in our work,” Carr said. “We both work long and hard hours, and our jobs work with the public.”
Morales recognizes the teachers in his school who go above and beyond in their job. 
“I have teachers that enter the building with the custodian who opens the doors at around 7 a.m. I then have teachers that stay until the doors are locked after 7 p.m.,” he said.
Johnson, along with many more of the Fenway faculty, stays in school after hours, meets with students during lunch and even comes in early to help those who are struggling in class. It is teachers like these who prove to the population how important teachers are.
Students who grow and mature through the help of their teachers have sympathy for them. They too agree with the notion that teachers deserve more than they get. Vladimira Amado is one of these students. 
“I don’t think they get paid enough for what they do, especially the teachers that cover more than one class,” she says.
However, despite these challenges, there are still people who enter the teaching field, passionate about education. Jocelyn Cespedes, for example, wants to become a teacher. Her plan is to become an accountant to be able to raise enough for savings and insurance, then study to become a second grade teacher. The way she plans to jump these hurdles demonstrates a teacher's persistence. 
The recent protests in California, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado have all brought up a messy yet important issue. How do you put a price on the education of America’s future? The truth is you can’t, and the patient and devoted teachers in our schools deserve more. So the next time you see your teacher, say thank you, because it is well earned. 
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I was the type of child who believed in fairytales and finding true love, so the process of my parents’ separation was like a wound to the heart.  I was hurt, but I didn’t express this to anyone. I never cried about it. I never talked about it. I tried to convince myself that it was a good thing—finally, something interesting happens to this family. 
As I grew up without my mother in the house I became isolated from my family. I began to see the struggles of being the child of a divorced couple. Soon my bottled up feelings were beginning to settle in my mind. I have had days when I’ve cried and I didn’t know the reason why, but for the broken family I have. I can’t think about having a future marriage without thinking of my family’s history of broken relationships. This divorce is like a shadow I don’t want, it follows me and at the same time it is me.  
 As it turns out, it’s normal for teenagers to feel this way. Many kids today can relate to the struggles of having separated parents. The American Psychological Association states “About 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.” With divorce hidden in about one out of two families, one would expect to see more media coverage of it or counselling in schools. If the population of today continues to overlook the consequences many children suffer from the effects of divorce, they are leading them like lambs to the slaughter.   
One of the common effects of divorce is sadness in general. Mood swings and behavior changes don’t sound too horrific, but divorce can leave children in a depressive state for as long as years. It is already tough enough for children to learn that the two people who are supposed to be their loving protectors are breaking apart, but they also have to accustom themselves to seeing less of one of their protectors.  
Tahnyi Brown is a student who attends Fenway High School. She is currently 14 years old and was 8 when her parents divorced. “I would sit with myself and think about how I would have turned out if my mom and dad were still together,” she said. “I probably would have been more enthusiastic.” Divorce can be something that haunts a child for long periods of time and ignoring this may lead to stronger depressive feelings. 
Anxiety and stress is also another outcome of divorce. Divorce is infamous for its messy and complicated nature, and it definitely isn’t easy for the kids. When parents argue, it is often the child that is left in the middle to decide which parent to live with or whose side to take in an argument. This puts a great deal of unnecessary stress on them at a young age. Kids may also feel stressed for their parents who are now trying to adapt to being a single parent.  
Yeilanise Noriega is a 14-year-old student who also attends Fenway High School. Her parents divorced when she was only 3 years old. I asked her if she felt like her parents’ divorce was a burden.  
“Yes, because it means that I’m in the middle,” Noriega said. “I can’t even see them both at the same time cause one of them lives in Puerto Rico...Every day I would just wake up knowing that I only have my mom to rely on and my mom has to deal with all this pressure, so it is definitely a burden.” 
Divorce is not simply a thing that affects the couple, but also a child’s everyday life, whether it’s moving from one parent’s house to the other or being left in the middle.  Everyone knows that divorce can be difficult, but when kids grow up without knowing about this additional stress, it puts a strain on them.  
Finally, one of the most concerning effects of divorce is the lack of healthy relationship examples or models. When children do not develop a general idea of what a healthy relationship is it plays a toll in their own relationships.  
Josefa Tavarez is currently 43 with three children. Her parents separated when she was 3 years old, and she herself divorced when she was 41. Tavarez is a walking example of the cycle of divorce.  
“It’s like a heritage of divorces in our family,” Tavarez said. “I didn’t grow up with a father. A father figure is important to daughters because the girls look for an image that is similar to their fathers.”  
Without a father figure, girls may get into toxic relationships because they were never shown how a woman should be treated. Fear also plays a role in the cycle. “Before I got married, I was afraid to be in love,” Tavarez said.  
There is a saying that goes “Do not fall in love, step on to it with steady feet.” Divorce has given many unsteady feet when it comes to relationships. Without a healthy idea of how to interact with loved ones, divorce can affect everything from friendships to dating in high school.   
However, I refuse to let this chain carry on and you can too. I know who I am, although I am still learning and growing. I cope with the burdens of divorce by writing in journals, asking questions and learning all I can about my parents' marriage and what went wrong, connecting with other students who are going through the same situation as me, and learning from the good relationship examples around me.  I know that I have control over my future and I choose to be the one who breaks free from the burden of my past—and every child who has faced the dreadful effects of divorce can do the same.  
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I walked quickly to the nurse’s office—it was that time of month again. When I got there, I told her I needed two pads to get me through the school day.  
“The first one will be free, but the second you will have to pay for,” said the nurse. 
“What do you mean I have to pay 50 cents for another pad?” I responded. 
 As outraged as I was at the school nurse, it wasn’t a surprise I had to pay extra for the second pad. For centuries now, women have had to deal with the burden of periods. One week of the month is always dedicated to that, and in that one week, they go through about one box of tampons, costing about $7 on average.  
That doesn’t seem like a lot, right? Wrong.  
The money spent for a box of tampons adds up every month. Women pay around $1,773 per year on tampons alone, according to the Huffington Post. Women shouldn't have to pay for something they have no control over, which is why pads and tampons should be free of charge everywhere. It’s a necessity which makes it more justifiable in why it should be free. 
“Tampons and pads should be treated just like toilet paper. They serve the same purpose—items to tend to our everyday, normal bodily functions,” Nancy Kramer said in the Huffington Post.  
If pads and tampons were treated like toilet paper, this problem wouldn’t have arisen at all. But, because we live in a sexist world, women and girls unfortunately have to pay for something they can’t control.  
“It’s unfair for girls to pay for a necessity,” said Angie Mejia, a BCLA student. “Most of us can’t even afford it.” That money could be used for other reasons, but it has to go towards their menstrual cycle.  
Some women argue tampons and pads are a “luxury.” Gina Davis wrote in the Odyssey Online that that the government has the right to keep a price on then because “money doesn’t grow on trees.”                                      
Periods should be normalized and seen as a regular bodily function. They are something a woman can’t control, and we should have access to pads and tampons for free anytime, anywhere. 
 
 
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Everyone knows what a hot day feels like: air conditioner on blast, eating cold ice cream, going to school feeling dehydrated. On a day like this, I learned about the effects of global warming, greenhouse gasses and other boring stuff that didn't make sense to me at the time.  
Many say that global warming is a boring, irrelevant topic. Others think we should take care of it immediately. But, it’s amazing how some people think it is totally “fake news.” No matter what your opinion is, you’ve probably heard the term thousands of times before, but have you ever asked yourself why should you care? 
Global warming occurs when harmful gases that form from fossil fuels don’t allow heat to escape the atmosphere, explains Jay Etsy, a Green Ambassador program manager at Thompson Island. “It’s so bad that it has come to a point were we cannot return to the state we were in forty years ago,” he said.  
The effects of climate change have been on the rise over the last couple of decades. In Massachusetts, we can already see changes. According to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs,“from 1921 to 2006, relative sea level has risen 2.6 millimeters annually, an increase of approximately 26 centimeters per century.” Rising sea levels can increase flooding during storms. Low elevation areas are the most affected by these floods and could be permanently flooded. Shorelines around beaches become smaller and possibly eroded. 
In Boston, the threat of flooding is important because many of our parks and green spaces are close to water. In a survey of Boston residents by the Trustees of Reservations, some 85 percent of respondents agreed that the Boston waterfront is vulnerable to climate change’s effects, with 42 percent agreeing that it is very vulnerable to flooding and erosion. Over half of respondents said they visit parks around Boston multiple times a week, and 60 percent said that visiting parks leaves positive impact in their lives and families. This shows that many residents of Boston enjoy the parks and losing them could impact their lives negatively. 
But it's not just rising sea levels we are seeing, there’s been crazy weather happening all over the world. According to the Climate Reality Project, the Philippines has had ten deadly typhoons since 1947. Over a thousand people died in seven out of ten of these typhoons. The Climate Change Project also interviewed a 14-year-old Inuk boy who told them polar bears looked very skinny and noticed that the permafrost had been melting and saw fewer caribou each year. 
Imagine living in a world without conflict about global warming. It is really hard for me to do because I have never experienced that before. Christmas starts to disobey the snowy day laws here in Boston when the atmosphere becomes warmer every time. And summer keeps giving its hot and dry best. People with power seem to forget about all these problems. It seems that we ignore facts because it hasn’t affected us yet, so we do not need to worry. The human race has made many mistakes, like exposing chemicals in the air that harm the ecosystem, and now is the time to address them. We could make a better tomorrow if we sacrifice a little time now to create a healthier world.            
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