Category Archives: Massachusetts

Massachusetts continues to be a leader in public education: Why I think that matters

In an age where many feel like access to a  quality education is only available to the wealthiest it isn’t really surpirsing that many have developed a distrust of our education system.  Over the past 20 years we’ve seen this distrust extend to people who are highly educated and articulate. So perhaps I’m bucking the trend here bragging about Massachusetts recent rankings in US News & World Report of the best high schools in the nation; half of Massachusetts’ high schools are in the top quarter of the national rankings — the highest proportion of any state.

I recognize that there are significant disparities in Massachusetts public education system; those raised in affluent communities absolutely have advantages children in poorer communities do not. However, regardless of party affiliation in this state, there is a genuine commitment to investing in education and it is that consensus that I think helps drives Massachusetts ranking year after year. It is my hope that the “war on education” in our politics and society will stop. Bravo Massachusetts on continuing to excel and your commitment to public education. There is definitely room to improve and addressing inequality in our system ranks fairly high on that list, but kudos for being a leader here.

Massachusetts RMV recognizes “Gender X”

non binary gender option in MassachusettsMassachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles now provides drivers with a third gender option to choose from. The option, “X,” is available for people to select who don’t identify as male or female.

This past Tuesday, during Transgender Awareness Week, Massachusetts state registry of motor vehicles (RMV) started offering residents a non-binary gender designation option for their driver’s licenses and ID cards. This was done as part of a system upgrade at the RMV and makes Massachusetts one of approximately a dozen states in the United States to recognize a third, non binary gender.

Almost on cue Massachusetts GOP Chairman Jim Lyons called this insane and railed against the change. I can appreciate there are people who’s heads spin at the idea of non-binary, but I don’t understand the need to make sure their point of view supersedes others or how decisions like this by the State of Massachusetts impact Mr. Lyons and those who agree with him. It seems like the same failed logic that was applied to opposing same sex marriages.

15 Years ago Massachusetts made history (again)

Gay marriage, same-sex marriage15 Years ago today Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to legalize same sex marriage. Conservatives said Mass. was making a mockery of marriage, yet this state still has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country.

To all those who helped bring about this change here in Massachusetts and elsewhere, congratulations. When Massachusetts legalized same sex marriage they set in motion and made possible the landmark Supreme Court case, Obergefell v Hodges. Make no mistake, same sex marriage would eventually have become legal even if , but I’m particularly proud of the role my home state played in forcing the issue. Below I’ve included an excerpt from that historic ruling, majority opinion that was written by State Supreme Court Justice, Margaret Marshall, which took place the year before. It still moves me today to read it.

Congratulations to all those couples celebrating their 15th anniversary.

Mass DOT Public Hearing for the North South Rail Link project this week

On Monday, December 10th, Massachusetts Dept of Transportation will hold a public hearing on the North South Rail Link, sharing public comments received, the draft report and cost estimation. Long-time residents of Boston may recall, linking both North and South Station was initially part of the “Big Dig” but was later scrapped after poor management of the project led to cost overruns and ridiculous delays.

Mass DOT Public Hearing: North South Rail Link project
Monday, December 10th 5PM – 8PM
10 Park Plaza, 2nd Floor, Conference Rooms 2 & 3

For those unfamiliar with the project, the North South Rail Link (NSRL) project would connect the  MBTA commuter rail networks (South Station and North Station) into one regional system through the construction and operation of a rail tunnel through Downtown Boston. This tunnel would enable through-running of MBTA Commuter Rail and Amtrak trains, increasing system coverage, capacity, and ridership.

Boston transit, Boston Commuter Rail, Massachusetts Bus and Transportation Authority

North South Rail Link Feasibility Reassessment Draft Final Report

I would like to see any project that links these two commuter hubs with a direct link via the MBTA subway system as well, providing a better and more direct connection for people who use the subway.

If interested, you can download and read the entire draft final report here.

Massachusetts has 2nd highest share of population that identifies as LGBTQ

Late last month a new report entitled, Equality and Equity Advancing the LGBT Community in Massachusetts, was released by The Boston Foundation. The report shines a bright light on the size of and the challenges faced by the LGBT community in Massachusetts.

A jaw-dropping 16% of 18- to 24-year olds in Massachusetts identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or something else, according to researchers from Boston Indicators, part of the Boston Foundation and the Fenway Institute, part of  Fenway Health. The LGBT community composes roughly 5% of the state’s population overall, making the commonwealth the “second gayest” state in the country behind Vermont, according to the report.

Source: Gallup Daily Tracking Survey. The Williams Institute. UCLA.

Despite being a leader in gay rights for more than four decades, LGBTQ youth still face some daunting hurdles. The report points out that nearly half of lesbian, gay or bisexual youth in our state have considered suicide as compared to 11% of their non-LGB peers. The report delves into much more detail about the strides we’ve made and the challenges that remain. Read the full report here, Equality and Equity Advancing the LGBT Community in Massachusetts.

LGBTQ curriculum to be added to MA schools

Considering the current political climate in the US it was interesting to see that earlier this week it was announced that Massachusetts schools will be able to try a new curriculum with LGBTQ-themed history, English and health this fall.

The curriculum, developed by a team of teachers with Massachusetts Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students and the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, will be released this summer, and is expected to feature lessons on the 1969 Stonewall Riots and writings by gay and lesbian authors. It will also feature lessons like how Nick Carraway’s love for Jay Gatsby may have influenced themes in “The Great Gatsby.”

LGBT history

Allen Ginsberg on the left was was an American poet, philosopher, and writer. He is considered to be one of the leading figures of both the Beat Generation

The units are optional and the decisions of what will be included will be made at the local level. In case you missed it you can read the full article about this interesting change (for the better IMHO) in the Boston Herald article

Growth projections could pose challenges for metro Boston

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) recently released a report to help the region and surrounding communities plan for the future, but since the future cannot be predicted with certainty they have two different scenarios based on different assumptions. One projection, called the “Status Quo” assumes a continuation of current trends and a second projection called “Stronger Region” explores how changing trends could result in a higher population growth, more demand for housing and a substantially larger workforce. The projections provide a window into what the region’s future might look like.

Massachusetts population shifts, METROPOLITAN AREA PLANNING COUNCIL

Click on maps to enlarge || Source: MAPC Analysis

Above is a side-by-side comparison of projected population changes under both scenarios. However, Boston’s population has increased by nearly 50,000 people (in 2010 the city’s population was 618,000 and in 2016 it increased to approximately 667,137) so perhaps their projections need to be revised. Under the “Stronger Region” projection it suggests the area could gain 90k+ by 2030 but the current trajectory suggests that could be achieved by 2023; although this doesn’t take into account a general population drain that may be happening in surrounding communities. Key findings include the following:

  • Slow growth is in store if the region keeps losing population to other states. Therefore attracting more young people is critical to growing the region’s
    economy.
  • New housing demand will outpace population growth due to declining household size. Many signs point to the resurgence of urban
    communities.
  • Under either scenario, the number of school-age children in the region and most municipalities peaked in 2000 and is likely to decline over the coming decades.

According to US Census data, the city of Boston had a population of 618,000 people in 2010, that increased to approximately 667,137 in 2016. The Greater Boston area is home to an estimated 4.7 million, making it the 10th largest metropolitan area in the United States.

If you’d like to read the executive summary or full report shared by MAPC visit their website, www.mapc.org/learn/projections.