From its start in 1996, BYOP has had a string of accomplishments at individual schools as well as citywide, beginning with a successful effort to re-open an abandoned ice-skating rink as an in-line skating facility in 1997. Some of our victories are:
More Guidance Counselors
In the spring of 1998, BYOP members came together to decide on an issue affecting young people in Boston Public Schools. The problem? Students didn’t get regular support from their guidance counselors. The solution? For BYOP’s youth, the solution was to hire more guidance counselors so that all students could receive adequate support. Although BYOP’s youth didn’t receive what they wanted, they emerged as leaders who had forged stronger relationships with Boston Public School Officials.
National Campaign for Quality Education (NCQE)
SOS: SAVE OUR SCHOOLS! is a part of the NCQE campaign of the AEJ (Alliance for Education Justice) coalition, a national alliance of 20 grassroots youth & intergenerational organizing groups that BYOP became a part of in the fall of 2009. Since joining, BYOP has travelled to several states working with education justice groups from across the US through AEJ. Some major actions & events include:
April 13th & 15th (tax day!) 2010: BYOP led twin actions at the Cambridge Post Office and at Boston’s South Station (beside the South Station Post Office.) The actions were aimed at getting our cities’ residents involved in education justice by attaching a sticker demanding to “Invest My Taxes In Public Education!” on their income tax packets. BYOP got hundreds of petitions signed in support of our SOS campaign at these events, and was able to speak to Massachusetts adults about the need for education justice in our nation!OUR TAX DAY ACTION WAS ONE OF FIFTEEN NATIONWIDE ON APRIL 15th! Our stickers will be reaching the federal government in THOUSANDS from all over the country as the U.S. collects and processes its citizens income taxes this year!
In July 2010, fifty BYOP alumni, friends, and youth travelled to Washington D.C. for a SOS march and rally in front of the Capitol Building, where young people from all over the country gathered to speak out & fight for quality education with AEJ.
In January of 2011, BYOP represented New England and hosted the weekend-long AEJ Regional Meeting, a youth-led series of workshops, strategy sessions, team builders, and even a scavenger hunt across Boston to Cambridge! Over 100 AEJ members (mostly youth) from Massachusetts, Arkansas, New Orleans, New York, Pennsylvania, and more gathered in Boston for this meeting, and built truly beautiful power and solidarity. We miss you guys!!
Learn more about AEJ.
Cleaning up the schools
In the spring of 1999, members of BYOP were interested in improving education in Boston. BYOP held an action meeting on June 1 that was attended by 350 people, during which we won the short term issue of improving bathroom facilities in Boston and the long term issue of increasing students’ power in their own education. On December 6, the Superintendent signed a public contract in front of over 200 young people to implement a bathroom checklist agreeement for all public schools with a BYOP charter, and he agreed to continue supporting BYOP on our long term education issues of student teacher relationships and guidance counselors. In 2006, the Cambridge chapter initiated and won their own bathrooms campaign.
Stop Violence on the T
Violence is on the rise in Boston, and with young people commonly being both victims and perpetrators, BYOP youth decided to do something about it. During the Spring of 2002, BYOP began working to stop violence on the T. They demanded that working call boxes and cameras be installed in the Red Line stations of Ashmont, Shawmut, Fields Corner and Savin Hill. During a rally, in which hundreds of people participated, the Chief of the MBTA Police agreed to install both call boxes and cameras in the four stations. This year, the youth will follow up with the new MBTA police chief to make sure that our demands will be met.
Lowering the Voting Age More
Elected officials make decisions that directly affect youth all the time. But we don’t have a say in who gets elected! Nor are we listened to because we don’t have the right to vote! Beginning with a desire to increase youth voice and power in our schools and communities, the 2001 Cambridge chapter of BYOP (then YAC) began the effort to lower the local voting age for School Committee and City Council elections. After many meetings with city officials, and two public hearings, the City Council voted in favor (8-1) of lowering the voting age to 17, and filed a home rule petition with the State House. The CRLS chapter is still working on the issue, this time to get it passed at the State level so it may be signed into law.
Save Summer Jobs Campaign
Budgets in 2003 slammed the youth of Boston. Not only were schools closed, teachers laid off, and programs eliminated, but nearly 3,000 youth were going to be on the streets during the summer months due to a decrease in summer jobs funding. Nearly 3,000 jobs were slated to be cut by the City of Boston. BYOP did not take the news silently – they jumped into action! Through the direct efforts of BYOP, Boston Connects gave $750,000 to summer jobs, the City Council voted in favor of restoring $1 million dollars of funding from the proposed cuts, the Private Industry Council and Chamber of Commerce of Boston worked to get the number of small business positions up, and GBIO funded a handfull of youth jobs. Thanks to all of those who helped to put Boston youth to work this summer!
Extending hours of the T pass
In the spring and summer of 1998, public transportation was a concern for public school students with MBTA student passes. Students could only use their T pass until 6 pm, which did not allow adequate time for after school activities. BYOP waged a successful campaign to extend the hours of the T pass usage from 6 pm to 8 pm, which affected 19,000 young people in the Boston area.
Re-opening Melnea Cass Skating Rink in Roxbury
In the spring and summer of 1997, the primary concern of the young people in the Roxbury Church Collaborative was to establish safe places for young people to get together. RCC waged a successful campaign to re-open the skating rink as a functioning recreational facility.
Leadership Development Campaign
In the fall of 1998, the structure of Team Captains was put in place. 500 young people and key adults represented BYOP at the November 22 founding assembly of GBIO. This was the largest institutional turnout number for this meeting of 4000 people from all over metropolitan Boston, and a BYOP captain was one of the co-chairs of the meeting.