Menino Speaks the Truth at Timilty Middle School

I don’t usually write sappy community stories. That’s what recklessly nostalgic metro columnists are for. But after the one annual occasion that I see a Boston Public School operate from the inside – during the Timilty Middle School’s Promising Pals Breakfast – I’ve always felt compelled to write articles that might qualify for “The Good News of Boston” – the newspaper Mayor Tom Menino once said he wished was published. But this year – considering how severely economic turmoil is sacking inner-city adolescents – even the mayor conceded that it’s not all good in the ‘hood.

Hizzoner was on hand last Friday for the 23rd annual assembly, which this year brought together nearly 700 Timilty students with pals who they’ve corresponded with since September. Menino has participated in the program for 16 years; he recently brought his pal to meet David Ortiz in the dugout after sitting VIP at a Sox game. In the three years I’ve attended the breakfast, the event has been a demonstration in flawless execution; like Menino says every time – the spectacle is proof that public schools – even such ones as Timilty, which are in horrifying proximity to countless acts of senseless violence – are functioning far better than outsiders must imagine.

While his annual 10-or-so minute speech is usually full of all fun and praise, this year Menino added an addendum. When he finished thanking Timilty Principal Valeria Lowe-Barehmi, State Senator Sonia Chang Diaz, Boston Herald veteran Joe Fitzgerald, and the Grub Street writers who helped organize the morning, the mayor did something rare for an incumbent politician in the middle of a race: he pleaded with the crowd, specifically to help find job opportunities for Boston teens. “I have 10,000 applications and only 7,000 jobs,” he said. “If you know anybody who can help – even if they can only offer two or three jobs – we need them now.”

As the 2010 state budget goes into House-Senate conference hearings this month, preliminary votes indicate that youth violence prevention funding – most of which subsidizes summer job programs – will be cut by at least $8 million, or one-third. That’s for next year, and, like the mayor says, as of right now there isn’t even enough money to keep kids off the street when school lets out less than one month from now.

Before leaving my promising pal (who I whooped at Jenga and Connect-Four), I asked what he planned to do this summer. Lucky for him, he might get to go to day camp out in Lynn. He’s in the seventh grade this year. I wonder if there will be a job waiting for him when he gets to high school in two years.  

| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
Latest Comments
Search Blogs
Phlog Archives