The Devils' Advocate
Alaria strives to close achievement gapWednesday, June 16, 2010 By Kelvin Rodriguez
Although students often feel powerless to influence their own education, that’s not entirely the case. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) hosts a group called the Greater Boston Regional Student Advisory Council (GBRSAC). In these particular meetings, students meet up once a month at the DESE offices located in Malden. During these meetings GBRSAC members discuss different issues that schools in the greater Boston area are going through. Workgroups are created to accomplish different tasks. Our own Chelsea High sophomore Crystal Alaria sits on the council and also its Achievement Gap work group, which tries to increase the learning of minority students. “We’re working on different ways to close that gap also known as low graduation percentage,” stated Alaria. “A few ways we are trying to tackle this issue is we are trying to lower the dropout rate of students and trying to get them more interested in school.” Alaria has shown her leadership even among this elite group by being elected by its members to serve on the State Student Advisory Council (SSAC), which is an upscale version of the GBRSAC. Instead of trying to solve specific local school issues, 40 students elected from all over Massachusetts meet for an additional meeting a month to deal with statewide problems in schools. Alaria also is a member of that body’s Achievement Gap work group, wrote a letter to DESE officials stating that the SSAC supported the idea of raising the dropout eligibility age from 16 to 18-years old. Some of the other issues addressed by the SSAC are school spirit, substance abuse, pregnancy, and MCAS/standardized testing. This spring, CHS students elected Marantha Boyer and Joam Margolis to serve on the GBRSAC with Alaria. Society needs more students like Alaria to find solutions to these difficult educational issues – students who strive to become leaders and push for the future.