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Number of homeless Boston Public Schools students climbs

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Number of homeless Boston Public Schools students climbs

The number of homeless Boston Public Schools students has climbed more than 25% in four years, according to district officials, and nearly all of them are students of color.

The total number increased from 3,200 in school year 2016-2017 to 4,000 in 2020-2021, the most recent year for which BPS would provide statistics. Those 4,000 amounted to 11.2% of the 48,957 students enrolled in the district in 2021.

Over the same four-year period, the number of unaccompanied students — youngsters experiencing homelessness without a parent or guardian — increased more than seven-fold, from 12 to 88.

“Our students sometimes arrive with the most difficult of situations,” said Superintendent Brenda Cassellius, who recently told the School Committee that as a child who grew up in public housing and who was “highly mobile” during sixth grade because her family lost their housing, she understands the kinds of support that children need.

“We are doing everything we can to provide stability to our unhoused student population,” she said in a statement. “Most recently, we partnered with the City of Boston to provide housing vouchers for almost 600 families. We are working tirelessly with our educators, the Office of Opportunity Youth and our amazing community partners to identify, enroll and provide resources to these students that go beyond housing. We provide food access, clothing and counseling support while also ensuring their academic success.”

The vast majority of homeless students — 95% compared to 85% of all BPS students — are students of color, said Brian Marques, senior director of the Office of Opportunity Youth. And 42% of them — compared to 32% of all students — are in English Language Development programs.

Homeless students struggle academically, scoring significantly lower on MCAS exams than their peers: 21.5% fewer scored in the proficient-to-advanced range in English, 24.2% fewer scored in that range in science and 33% fewer in math, he said.

Leveraging $1.9 million from the city, district staff are trying to help these students in multiple ways, realizing that the stigma of homelessness “can be a very difficult (one) to shake,” so that they are not defined by it, Marques recently told the School Committee. The district works with 175 school liaisons, including social workers and guidance counselors, who are its key contacts to coordinate programming.

They try to ensure some stability in students’ lives by immediately enrolling ones who’ve been displaced and providing them with transportation so that they can continue to attend their school of origin, he said.

And they ensure homeless students have access to food, clothing and health care, and provide them, like other BPS students, with Chromebooks and hotspots so that they can do their school work.

District staff approach all of this work from “an understanding of how the housing crisis and rising housing costs affect families beyond those experiencing extreme poverty,” Marques said.

BPS has emergency aid to try to help prevent them from slipping into homelessness, including financial assistance for those ineligible for city or state programs. It also tries to help resolve problems between families and landlords, helps families search for and apply for housing and provides referrals for them.

School Committee member Rafaela Polanco Garcia said she was once a homeless refugee living in a shelter with her son, who asked why his friends couldn’t visit.

“The ability for a teacher to go to a shelter is very powerful,” she said. “It is critical this information be available to principals.”

Academic mentorship also is available to homeless students, Marques said. And one sign that that may be helping is the number of homeless students enrolled in BPS’s elite exam schools increased by 34% from last school year to this school year.

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Ramesh Ponnuru: Republicans can extend their midterm inflation advantage

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Ramesh Ponnuru: Republicans can extend their midterm inflation advantage

Inflation is likely to be the most powerful issue working for Republicans in this year’s congressional elections. Public concern over it has been rising fast. Republicans can plausibly blame the administration of President Joe Biden for making the problem worse by spending too much money on a pandemic stimulus program he pushed through Congress last year, and for not taking it seriously as it emerged.

But there isn’t much that Congress can do to affect the course of inflation in the short term. The Federal Reserve is in charge of monetary policy. Congress can (in principle!) pass legislation to make the economy more productive, but any changes would generally take awhile to have an effect.

That’s only a small political inconvenience for Republicans. Voters are more likely to want to register their anger over inflation than pore over any candidate’s plans to address it. (Elections are a blunt instrument for public control of the government.)

There are also ways that Republicans can contribute to bringing inflation down. If they did, they could both perform a useful service for the country and increase their political advantage on the issue, at least a little.

The first is simply to support monetary tightening. A large portion of recent inflation has been caused by excessive spending throughout the US economy. During the expansion prior to the arrival of Covid-19 two years ago, spending had grown by a bit less than 4% a year. Over the past year it has risen more than 10%.

Even after the Federal Reserve’s mid-March hike in interest rates, spending has been rising fast enough to keep the gap growing between actual spending levels and the pre-Covid trend. By that measure, the Fed has not yet, in effect, tightened at all.

It should be encouraged to tighten money both by raising interest rates further and, maybe more important, by announcing that its goal is to bring spending levels back to the trajectory they were on before the burst of inflation.

Central bankers are sure to face pressure to ease off, especially if tightening leads to higher unemployment. Republicans should exert countervailing pressure, pointing out that getting inflation under control is the only way to achieve sustainable high employment. The Fed has made the eventual tightening more painful by delaying it, and should not delay further. Republicans could also explore legislation to make the stabilization of spending a statutory goal of the Federal Reserve, giving that goal more credibility.

And while no one should oversell how much or how fast policy changes can address inflation by expanding supply, some such changes are worth pursuing. Former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum never made much sense as either a national-security or job-protecting measure, and his tariffs on China have largely failed to achieve their objectives. Abandoning them would, as the Peterson Institute for International Economics puts it, “provide a temporary downward shock to prices.” (It’s worth noting, however, that lifting the tariffs on China would require mounting an argument to win over skeptics.)

Congress could also remove barriers to energy production — something Republicans are already calling for — and to the automation of ports. Senator Mike Lee, the Utah Republican, has a bill that applies deregulation to transportation-sector logjams, and another one to increase housing supply. These measures would probably make the economy a bit more productive even if inflation subsides. They would also provide a way for Congress to show that it is working to bring prices down.

Finally, Republicans should block proposals that would make inflation worse. Many economists think widespread student-debt relief would have this effect, and that the Democrats’ “Build Back Better” spending legislation would as well.

Congress could also consider delaying the spending of some of the money it is devoting to infrastructure projects so that more of it happens after labor shortages and supply disruptions ease. That would produce more infrastructure improvement per dollar spent.

This is hardly an exhaustive list. The point is that when Republicans face the question, “What are you going to do about inflation?” they can offer many partial answers. Democrats would be wise to go along with some of these ideas, too, and even to propose them first. But some of them, such as the ones that involve taking on unions, are a more natural fit for Republicans.

All of these political considerations are meaningful, however, only on the margins. No matter what politicians in either party do, the cost of living is going to be front of mind for voters this fall. They’re going to take out their frustrations on the party in power.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the editor of National Review and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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WCHA Final Faceoff returning for Ridder in 2023, 2024

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WCHA Final Faceoff returning for Ridder in 2023, 2024

Minnesota will play host to the next two WCHA Final Faceoff championship tournaments, the school announced Wednesday. The 2023 event is scheduled for March 3-4, 2023, at Ridder Arena.

The Gophers won the regular-season WCHA championship last season before being edged by eventual national champion Ohio State in the conference tournament final at Ridder.

The 2025 NCAA Frozen Four is scheduled to be played at Ridder Arena, as well.

GOALIES TO USA CAMP

Gophers junior Makayla Pahl and freshman Skylar Vetter have been selected to attend the 2022 USA Hockey National Goaltending Camp in Plymouth, Mich. They will join 27 other men’s and women’s goaltenders for the May 19-22 camp at USA Hockey Arena.

Pahl recently completed her best season at the U, posting a 9-1-0 record with a 1.70 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in 15 games. Lakeville’s Vetter appeared in 11 games in her first collegiate season, going 6-2-0 record with a 1.57 GAA and a .926 save percentage.

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New York State Accuses Amazon of Discrimination, Just the Latest Conflict Between the Company and New Yorkers

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best amazon prime day deals 2021

best amazon prime day deals 2021

New York State is accusing Amazon of violating discrimination laws, alleging the corporation denies appropriate accommodations for pregnant and disabled workers.

The complaint, filed by the state’s Division of Human Rights and announced in a statement by Gov. Kathy Hochul, accuses Amazon of forcing its warehouse workers to take unpaid medical leave instead of adjusting their duties, as required by state law. Amazon has 39,000 employees working in 23 New York facilities, according to the state.

The state maintains that Amazon employs “accommodation consultants,” who make recommendations on how to modify duties for disabled employees, but the company empowers its managers to override those recommendations. In one case, the state claims, a pregnant worker was forced to continue lifting heavy boxes despite having asked for an accommodation. The request was denied and the worker was injured. A further request for accommodation for the injury was also denied, forcing the worker to take unpaid leave. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

Amazon’s reputation as an unsafe workplace

Amazon has struggled with a reputation for being an unsafe employer, and according to one union-sponsored study of government data, its warehouse employees suffer injuries at twice the rate of workers at non-Amazon facilities. The injuries are based in part on the company’s productivity quotas, which can demand employees skip breaks or lunch hours, and have prompted California to pass a law restricting them. Amazon says the high number of injuries were in part the result of a rapid increase in employment during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that it spent $300 million on worker safety in 2021.

Workplace safety was one of the rallying points for the Amazon Labor Union, the independent union that organized an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, and the state’s lawsuit is just the latest friction point between Amazon and New Yorkers.

Along with the unionization effort, which succeeded after similar attempts failed in other states, New York City notably rejected Amazon’s bid to build a second headquarters in Queens, New York. Queens and northern Virginia were selected after a highly publicized and lengthy search process, and while many cities were eager to shower Amazon with tax breaks for the privilege of hosting its offices, New Yorkers balked at $3 billion in incentives and the potential for increased traffic, rent increases and gentrification. (Despite noisily severing its deal with the city, Amazon has since stealthily leased huge amounts of office space while hiring thousands.)

Hochul, the former Lt. Governor who stepped in after the resignation of Andrew Cuomo, is running for election as a Democrat this fall. An upstate moderate, she is looking to make inroads with progressives in New York City. Given the city’s contentious relationship with Amazon, it seems likely that taking aim at the tech giant will only help her standing among the city’s liberals.

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