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Charlestown principal to take over as Boston Latin School head

Gallagher

Jason Gallagher, current principal at the Harvard-Kent Elementary School in Charlestown, will take over as new head of school at Boston Latin School, outgoing Superintendent Brenda Cassellius told the school community today.

Gallagher himself went to BLS, the latest in a string of BLS leaders to have come from the school. He replaces Rachel Skerritt, who announced her resignation in March. BLS headmasters or, more recently, heads of school, have been BLS graduates since 1920.

In his current role at Harvard-Kent, Mr. Gallagher has worked to continue the school’s long tradition of success. He has met or exceeded its MCAS targets each year, and in 2019 the school was named the “School on the Move” by EdVestors, based on consecutive years of strong academic growth. He has also coordinated support for students in order to attend to their well-being, mental health, and interventions on social and emotional health.

Before taking over as principal at Harvard-Kent, he served as assistant director in the BPS Office of Special Education, a teacher at Harvard-Kent and a special-education teacher at Braintree High School.

A lifelong Charlestown resident, Gallagher graduated BLS in 1991. He has two sons who also graduated the school. He has a history bachelor's from Merrimack College, an education master from Simmons and a masters in educational leadership from Framingham State University.

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Comments

And unlikely to change anything, which is what BPS wants.

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Voting closed 27

Sure, BPS just revamped the entire admissions process for the exam schools but also they don't want change? Some people just want to be mad online I guess.

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Voting closed 52

In what way does grad of Latin, dad of Latin seem likely to change Latin to you?

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Voting closed 26

if he does well, then you’ll just stay quiet. if nothing changes then you get to come back and do another drive-by comment. it’s corny.

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Voting closed 24

Seems to me that every time someone suggests any kind of revamp, everyone gets mad. Apart from some kind of generic "make the school generally better via unspecified magic", what are you actually looking for here?

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Voting closed 27

I thnk people like sockpuppet just want to be miserable and complain. They're not interested in improvements or change or trying anything, just wallowing in misery about people who do actually try should not have bothered.

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Voting closed 22

I would like Boston to have better schools. I mean, better public schools - we already have more than our fair share of excellent private schools.

I don't see how BLS fits into the picture of better public schools. In the long run, I think it's irrelevant. It's world-famous all over Boston, yet not even in the same league as schools like TJ or Stuy. The best anybody ever seems to hope for it is that it reclaims some kind of past glory from the 20th (or 19th?) century.

Keeping BLS just the way it is seems like the compromise, so this hire makes good sense.

The state will end up taking over BPS, and I hope the state will create regional magnet schools, including a math and science magnet.

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Voting closed 19

US News and World ranked BLS #26 in the nation, "Stuy" was ranked #36.

TJ was ranked first, but I suppose this would be easier for a school that is >90% white/Asian in a wealthy VA suburb. Stuy is also 90% white/Asian. At least BLS is only 75%.

But I suppose you know better than US News and World.

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Voting closed 19

Are you saying if more non white and non Asians attended, the rankings would drop?

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https://www.bostonmagazine.com/education/best-public-high-schools-boston...

Moving up there. Good on them!

A huge part of the US News ranking - about 30% - is the percentage of students taking AP tests.

https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/articles/how-us-news-...

This makes a simple numerical comparison of schools like Latin, which don't offer math or science classes taught above the level of APs, with schools like Stuyvesant, which do, misleading. A top senior at Latin is in Calculus and can take the AP for Calc AB, or maybe even BC. That student gets points for the US News rankings.

If you're a top senior at Stuyvesant, on the other hand, you might take no AP classes, only post-AP classes. The top math students at Stuyvesant can take linear algebra, multivariate calc, abstract algebra, complex calc., etc., none of which have AP exams - they earn the school no points for the US News rankings. Maybe the students finished their Calculus APs as Freshmen or Sophomores (which you can't do at Latin).

The top science seniors at Stuyvesant might take college-level Organic Chemistry, Human Pathology, etc. Comp sci students might take Systems-level programming, cybersecurity, etc.

These are not classes you can take at public schools in Boston. If that's the sort of thing your kids do, in Boston you have to send your kids to private school or skip them right to college. In New York, you don't.

And that's why I would like Boston to have a state-run regional math and science magnet school.

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Voting closed 17

You were given as objective a rating as one can get that showed BLS is a better school and #26 in the country of schools in the country. It looks like Stuyvesant also offers AP classes (which are nationally accredited and count for college credit), and no idea if they go above and beyond that in the sciences - you also ignore that Boston Latin is not a STEM school - it provides a classical education which has it's benefits that you seem to discount. I say this as someone who has been rather successful in and outside of the tech sector for many years now: a classical education is important, especially at a high school level when one can then specialize in a field in college.

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Voting closed 10

Boston Magazine's ranking is equally objective, and more transparent. It demonstrates that BLS is the 15th best public high school in the Boston metro area. It shows the data behind that ranking. US News does not show its data, just describes weights of categories.

You say BLS specializes in a classical education. If by "classical education," you mean it has no math or science beyond a run-of-the-mill high school, that's been demonstrated. That's fine, if you want that. Not everybody does, which is maybe why most of the high schools highly ranked nationally are STEM schools.

If by "classical education," you mean that BLS graduates people who can read and write fluently in multiple languages, or are thoroughly versed in logic and rhetoric, or are ideally prepared for a demanding liberal arts college, then I would be fascinated to see proof.

BLS is a perfectly fine, general-purpose high school. It's got the same classes as most other high schools, with less flexibility, and more Latin. It's comparable with area suburban public high schools. Like them, it does a fine job preparing kids from diverse backgrounds to succeed at universities.

I agree that BLS should keep doing what it's doing. It serves a purpose in Boston.

I also think Boston deserves better public high schools than the exam schools; the biggest shortcoming is in math and science.

And, no, AP classes aren't accepted for college credit at all universities. The more selective the university or college, the less likely they are to accept AP credits. Most Ivies accept no AP credits at all.

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Voting closed 8

Just looking at the Boston Magazine article, BLS beats the #1 in MCAS scores and basically ties in SAT scores, and has more kids attending colleges - in fact probably more kids got into Harvard from BLS than the top 10 combined. Looks like BLS is getting dinged on class size to teacher ratio and educator rankings - then again, they don't detail how they actually do the rankings other than an undefined weight score to the various categories against the average. The majority of the Ivy League accept AP credits in some fashion.

If you don't even understand what a classic education is, or what BLS prepares kids for in life then, well, what's even the point of this conversation? You obviously have no idea what you are talking about even when presented with factual information sinking your assertions, and now admit you don't even know what BLS teaches. One does wonder: did you get asked to leave, or just not even admitted or something? Seems like a very personal vendetta you have against the 26th best High School in the country.

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Voting closed 14

I have no vendetta against the 26th best public high school in the country, wherever that is.

I understand several different definitions of what a classical education is, but none that really fits what BLS does. "Same thing we did in 1970" does not equal "classical education." "The same thing as other schools, plus everybody gets two years of Latin" doesn't either. Your idea that what BLS teaches is really much different from what any decent suburban high school - say, Newton or Brookline or Lexington - teaches only demonstrates your ignorance of schools in general. Not that there's anything wrong with that - like I said, it's fine for many kids. It's only some kids who need something more.

I do want to thank you, though. I am terribly tickled that you offer exiting standardized test scores as an irrefutable demonstration of how good a school is, when that school requires a standardized test for admission. That's like claiming your basketball team makes kids taller. It's the best laugh I've had today.

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Voting closed 11

I understand several different definitions of what a classical education is, but none that really fits what BLS does. "Same thing we did in 1970" does not equal "classical education." "The same thing as other schools, plus everybody gets two years of Latin" doesn't either. Your idea that what BLS teaches is really much different from what any decent suburban high school - say, Newton or Brookline or Lexington - teaches only demonstrates your ignorance of schools in general. Not that there's anything wrong with that - like I said, it's fine for many kids. It's only some kids who need something more.

I do enjoy your fact-free writing, and your seemingly complicate lacking of understanding of the Boston Latin School or its curriculum. Or maybe you are just using "alternative facts".

I do want to thank you, though. I am terribly tickled that you offer exiting standardized test scores as an irrefutable demonstration of how good a school is, when that school requires a standardized test for admission. That's like claiming your basketball team makes kids taller. It's the best laugh I've had today.
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So you agree that the Boston Magazine rankings that you posted are a worse measurement than US News? Thank you for further proving my point that your source is laughable. You know, it is OK to just admit you were wrong on the internet. Boston certainly could use a STEM magnet school and other specialized schools like the Boston Arts Academy. To then try to belittle BLS for not being the STEM-lord school you dream of is amusingly sad.

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Voting closed 9

Judging by objective criteria, BLS is obviously in the same league. Also, to your point about AP Exams, it says that the criteria is based on the student taking just one AP exam, not multiple exams. The criteria is also weighted to those that pass the AP exam.

Even the scenario where the student is taking post-AP math and science, there are other subjects in high school. For example, most of the Stuy social studies classes are AP level in the Senior year. So it would appear there are plenty of opportunities for a student to take at least one AP class their Senior year.

Your complaint with BLS seems to be that it provides a classical education, which it has done for over 385 years. The long term results are fairly plain to see. Personally, I took AP Economics and Physics and "regular" Calculus BC and I passed both AP exams. I am employed as a scientist, so the lack of complete focus on science and math seems not to have hindered me.

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Voting closed 9

What makes you think Thomas Jefferson and Stuyvesant are so much better? Latin School rates higher in US News than the latter of those, and shows fairly comparable data to the former. Such rankings are never completely accurate, but they at least give us some place to start. If you have something to back your assertion, you should probably post it, otherwise maybe take a few steps back in your outrage.

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Voting closed 11

Do you think the admissions process changed or nah?

I do not care enough to check, but weren't you one of the posters crying about how the new admissions process was making the school worse since there were less middle class white kids choosing to attend? You are a big dog whistle guy as I recall.

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Voting closed 20

That was someone else you heard crying, maybe it was over at your own house. Your recollection isn't so good. The goal of having more kids who attended BPS attend BLS seems perfectly reasonable to me. I don't think it'll make BLS any worse. Some folks seem to, but not me. It's a bigger concern of mine that a city full of the world's best universities doesn't have a public school better than Latin.

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Yes, the goal is laudable. Do you know what it means for the school to become more accessible? It means a higher percentage of students will have language and other learning obstacles. Gallagher is a specialist in keeping the quality of instruction strong for all learning types. He is exactly what the school needs to continue it's mission but for an expanded range of students.

As for your second point, not many schools are better than Latin, despite your claims to the contrary. What I think you may have meant, is that Boston should have more than just one school of such quality. If so, then total agreement.

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Voting closed 12

To me...

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Voting closed 12

Be thankful for small favors. I'm surprised they didn't bring 110 year old Michael Contompasis back, which seems to be their usual method. They've done it at least twice already.

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Seems a little light on the quality of schools he's attended and light on real tangible success? Meeting or exceeding MCAS standards in wealthy Charlestown where the elementary school students he is in charg of are plurality white? https://profiles.doe.mass.edu/profiles/student.aspx?orgcode=00350200&org...

Doesn't supper impress me. His school is rapidly gaining white Students faster than any school in the entire system https://profiles.doe.mass.edu/profiles/student.aspx?orgcode=00350200&org... That's a bit concerning to me. What's going on over there?

For the crown jewel of the system I'm not really impressed. Seems like he should have to start in a normal BPS High School first.

Merrimack
Simmons
Framingham State to the elementary principal. meh. It's not doing it for me. It does seem like he could just be a pawn in case a lawsuit or state takeover gets ugly.

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Voting closed 20

No one is happy with the choices the schools are making. I think it’s important to see that this perspective is coming from people in different places on the political spectrum, like Jay and sock puppet.

At some point, accountability is needed and it often ends up going into thin air when there are high turnover rates in leadership positions. When there is zero accountability in the long run, change of any kind cannot truly take hold.

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Voting closed 19

His resume is representative of a successful BLS graduate. He is familiar with the demographic, and probably has reasonable expectations. He seems to be successful in his career, with no red flags.

If you were looking for someone to change things, you might hire someone with a fancier education, or more experience in other school systems, and at better schools. But that's not what they're looking for. He can run the ship on its current heading just fine.

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Voting closed 14

BPS administration is saturated with high profile educators with Ivy league educations. The work they have done has forced the stated to take over the system. There really isn't any other way to look at that other than being a failure.

Maybe its time to hire some regular people with charisma and leadership skills in some of these positions. What do you have to lose....a state takeover of the system?

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Voting closed 15

... the Boston Police Department? Taken over by the state? Really? I must have missed the news reports on this.

But, if this is true, why would one think that the state -- which can't resolve the major problems within the state police -- could provide any useful guidance?

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Voting closed 6

fixed....

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How does an elementary school principal become a high school principal? I'm sure he will do fine, but you would think they would get someone with experience as a high school principal.

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Voting closed 10

Sometimes that is better than someone with just assistant principal experience at the same school (See Lynn Teta).

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Voting closed 12

Meet the new boss

Same as the old boss

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Voting closed 10

I am just happy that sock puppet is not an english teacher at BLS.

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Voting closed 7