The Nagasawa Family Photos
June - July 2021
On June 8th, Zoe attended Boston Latin School's Pandemic Prom, which was a get together at the school, to be COVID-safe. She wore a dress from our friend Liza.
Here are a few shots of Zoe in the garden next door.
Then it was off to the BLS Pandemic Prom!
Where the school rented several sporty cars for the students to pose with
This is Mr. Contampasis, who is a living legend of Boston Latin School. He once served as Headmaster.
Then, on June 13th, Zoe officially graduated from Boston Latin School! She decorated her cap with carnation petals.
It was a warm day at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.
They situated the crowd, graduates, and ceremony under the bleachers in case of rain. There was rain in the forecast but it didn't materialize.
Here's the new graduate!
Zoe had friends and housemates cheering for her in the stadium. We went out to dinner in an outdoor patio of a nice restaurant, but it started raining! So we brought the food home.
On Friday, June 18th, Ming and I took some of the kids in our church community to Six Flags in Springfield, MA for a day. It was a nice day to go...
Perfect for a water ride.
My favorite was The Riddler.
On Wednesday, June 23rd, Zoe threw a "Prom Part 2" in the neighborhood garden. We decked up the garden in Christmas lights...
...and laid out a nice dinner with pizza from Molinari's, a charcuterie board, fresh fruit and cheese and chips...
And the new graduates played laser tag.
One of Zoe's investments and achievements this school year was her report, Uneven Ground: Strategies for Leveling the Playing Field in BPS Exam Schools. If you'd like to read it, please click on the graphic of the cover:
Zoe points out:
Black and Latinx students have historically been, and continue to be, underrepresented at Bostonís top exam school, comprising only 7.6% and 13.3% of Boston Latin School (BLS) during the 2019-2020 school year, compared to 30% and 42.2% of citywide enrollment (Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 2020). Many have critiqued the BLS admissions system, which relies heavily on a private entrance exam, for discriminating against applicants from historically marginalized backgrounds and creating this striking disparity. Now, for the first time in decades, Boston Public Schools (BPS) has an opportunity to rethink the system. We offer this report as a resource for this important decision. Developed and led by a BLS senior, this report centers student voice in the hope that our research can help advance the aim of racial equity in Boston's exam schools.
Our full report offers details about policy options for more equitable exam school admissions, including the pros and cons of various changes as revealed in stakeholder interviews. Meanwhile, our action guide provides a brief overview the two primary alternative systems that utilize socio-economic status to create a more diverse student body. Please see the full report for more details about how these policies could be implemented in Boston.
Zoe's first recommendation was a model used by the Chicago Public School System: Factor a student's socio-economic hardship into what "merit" means. How do you do this? Give each census tract in Boston a weighting based on its socio-economic index, which is known by publicly available data from the US Census and IRS. Admission to BPS's three test schools (Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy, and the John D. O'Bryant) would then be based on a point score involving GPA, test score, and tier.
Because of her work on this report, Zoe was invited to serve as one of two students on a district-wide task force to propose a change to the admissions criteria for Boston's elite public magnet schools, to make it more equitable. Zoe spent hours and hours on Zoom meetings during her Senior year. Back on March 17, 2021, NBC News quoted Zoe on BLS's school culture and mentioned her report.
Nearing the end of the 2020 - 21 academic year, there was general agreement in this task force about what to propose to the school board: weighting census tracts in Boston by socio-economic tiers for all students.
What followed was a lesson in politics. First, the chairs of the task force suddenly changed their minds. They said there were political factors that they would not name. The BPS Schoolyard News pointed out the insider-outsider dynamics at work (click on the graphic to read):
The chairs proposed that 20% of all seats would be allocated by top GPA and test score alone, without the socio-economic score. This was widely recognized as reserving advantages for wealthier families. Multiple City Councilors had threatened to withhold the BPS budget unless they did this 80/20 split.
However, many other members of the community were upset about this and the political maneuvering. They called for 100% of students be included in the tiered system. So the School Committee decided to go with this plan! Including:
"The proposal also calls for an additional 15 points for students living in BHA [Boston Housing Authority public] housing, experiencing homelessness, or in DCF [foster] care."
Read about the plan and the process in the Boston Globe (click on the graphic to read the article):
The Boston Herald covered a bit more of the politics behind the decision (click on the graphic to read the article).
Our family was happy about the outcome, and glad that Boston residents were able to achieve this historic policy change. We're proud of Zoe for her heart for justice, thoughtfulness, thorough research, patience, and advocacy.