For Immediate Release
January 29, 2013
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
In front of an audience of residents, political leaders, and dignitaries, Mayor Thomas M. Menino tonight delivered his annual State of the City address at Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall. In addition to several other commitments, the Mayor announced $30 million in new funding for underperforming schools, a pilot program to bring online learning to Boston’s neighborhoods, enhanced public safety partnerships, and several initiatives to achieve equity for women in the workplace. Mayor Menino emphasized that the commitment of residents and political leaders to each other, and the City of Boston, will continue to propel the city forward in 2013.
“Our progress is real. Our future is bright. The state of our city is striking, sound, and strong,” Mayor Menino said in his address. “Our untapped human potential is enough to power Boston’s growth if we muster the courage and the creativity to unleash it.”
Before introducing plans for the City’s future, the Mayor expressed his sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support he has received over the past few months.
The State of the City was the Mayor’s 20th annual address and 15th State of the City address. He has given five inaugural addresses.
Mayor Menino tonight announced the start of a new, $30 million investment to continue quality improvements in Boston Public Schools. Over the next three years, the funds will be used to extend freedoms in hiring and learning time, as well as facility upgrades, at schools that require high support.
The Mayor recognized the tremendous work of his External Advisory Committee on School Choice, which will soon make a final recommendation following a year-long community process to transform the way Boston students are assigned to schools. Mayor Menino acknowledged that quality improvement must be taken together with student assignment reform in order for the District to reach new heights.
“The best way to celebrate our accomplishments is not with applause, but with an encore,” Mayor Menino said. “I’m fighting to gain the power to extend freedoms in hiring and learning time to many more schools across the district. If a school has to fail before it gets flexibility, it’s not just the school that is failing, it’s us!”
In addition to the Quality Improvement Funds, Mayor Menino emphasized the importance of the legislative proposals he filed earlier this month, a second phase of education reform building from the success of his 2010 legislative package. Included in the 2012 legislative package: Extending “turn-around” powers and support grants to Level 3 schools, including High-Support Schools; Eliminating the cap on In-District charter schools; Extending the school day for additional instruction and professional development; Leveling the playing field for charter schools and District schools.
Making Boston the Premier City for Working Women
According to the US Census Bureau, fewer than 30 percent of businesses in Boston are owned by women. While this puts Boston on par with national averages, Mayor Menino acknowledged the numbers fall short of aspirations for the City and its working women. The Mayor tonight announced several proposals as Boston seeks to become the first major city in the U.S. to achieve pay equity for women.
“To outshine all cities we must unlock the potential of all of our women,” Mayor Menino said. “Recent college graduates are earning less than their male classmates in the same jobs and with the same degrees. We can do better than that.”
The Mayor’s proposals include:
- Appointing a Women’s Workforce Council: Mayor Menino will appoint a Women’s Workforce Council, the first of its kind in the country. Together with the Mayor, the Council will tackle challenges facing Boston’s working women. The first priority will be the wage gap, as Boston seeks to become the first major city to achieve pay equity for women. The Council will include executives, entrepreneurs, industry and workforce leaders, and young women to represent the next generation.
- Improving access to quality child care: In addition to the investment the City has already made in providing quality early education to more than 2,400 children in Boston Public Schools, Mayor Menino announced a new, $1 million low-interest loan fund to assist family-based early education providers invest in safe, quality child care environments.
- Launching “Women on Main”: A networking program aimed to better connect the City’s female-owned Main Streets businesses and foster peer-to-peer learning, “Women on Main” will enable the City to learn more about the unique challenges of female entrepreneurs, and provide them with the tools needed to grow and thrive.
Connecting Boston’s Neighborhoods to the Knowledge Economy
Mayor Menino will launch a new pilot, BostonX, that will partner with MIT, Harvard, and edX on an experiment in blended, online learning. BostonX would bring place-based enhancements to online edX learners and would help diminish the skills gap facing Boston residents.
Mayor Menino will first launch BostonX in neighborhood community centers. The BostonX spots would provide public computing capacity and basic computer training; online learning training; connections – in-person and electronic – to university or community college faculty, staff, and graduate students; and services for career counseling and job transitioning. The BostonX and edX teams envision then bringing these connections to high school classrooms and public libraries.
“Imagine a day when our community centers are little campuses in their own neighborhoods, full of vibrant groups of neighbors, exchanging ideas and making progress together,” Mayor Menino said. “This initiative is a first, important step in that direction.”
Improving Public Safety
Mayor Menino recognized the comprehensive prevention strategies responsible for another drop in homicides in 2012. Citing recent national and local tragedies resulting from gun violence, Mayor Menino vowed to continue his advocacy for common sense gun reform at the national level.
“Mayor Bloomberg and I will keep working with almost one thousand mayors and over one million Americans,” Mayor Menino said. “I ask you to stand with us on guns to say enough is enough.”
The Mayor also announced the task force responsible for a recent crime sweep in the Bowdoin-Geneva community would extend its work for the rest of the year, emphasizing that those seeking to bring guns and drugs into Boston’s neighborhoods will be brought to justice.
The Mayor also announced the City will work with partners to support teens with autism in summer jobs and expand the City’s inclusive after-school programs. Boston will adapt to meet the needs of a growing population of seniors – projected to be 100,000 by 2017. Additionally, the Mayor committed to a new effort to make more city services “same day services,” as well as update climate work to reflect the threats the City faces from storms like Sandy. In the coming year, the City will make one million square feet of city-owned property available for development into homes for middle-class families.