Who Will Save Boston's Inner-City Children?

by Jeanne Belovitch

This article was written in 1982 about the Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Boston, Massachusetts. This was a very difficult year for Boston Public Schools because school budgets were dramatically cut and large numbers of teachers were beiing laid off. I was a substitute teacher at this school for four months.

The last time I visited the school in 2005, the Woodrow Wilson was an orderly school with a committed body of teachers, and engaged students.

Off of Dorchester Avenue across from Nishan's Market is Mercier avenue. Mercier avenue is a fairly steep hill lined with well-kept two family houses at the bottom, single families toward the top.

The yards are manicured, with shrubbery and flowers adorning them. Even the American flag hangs from two houses.

The ambiance in this neighborhood bespeaks more for suburban type living than its nomenclature: “inner city street.” It's less than five minutes from Ashmont Station.

A gray monolithic structure obstructs the view at the top of Mercier and stretches west for a block down Acia road, with its front taking up practically all one side of Croftland Avenue. The building's address is 18 Croftland.

Chicken wire traverses the window panes on the first floor. All the doors are thick metal, painted a deep dull green. There are no door knobs on the outside, just locks for keys.

The front door on Croftland – a double door – has a peep hole for those on the inside to look out. This little chicken-wired-window signals the fear and discontent within and without of this building – Woodrow Wilson Middle School.

During the school year, too many kids congregate on Mercier in the mornings, delaying the inevitable – going to school. They smoke dope, act tough, and bandy about the most popular word in their vocabulary: fuck.

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