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Mayor Walsh appoints Miren Uriarte to the Boston School Committee

February 11, 2015

Boston Public Schools

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Today Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the appointment of Miren Uriarte to the Boston School Committee, the governing body of the Boston Public Schools (BPS). Uriarte is an active member of Boston’s Latino community who, as a UMass Boston faculty member, has done extensive research on the impact of educational policies on the outcomes of Latinos and English Language Learners in BPS and Massachusetts Schools. 
“Today, Latino students are the largest racial ethnic group enrolled in the Boston Public Schools, and a recent BPS study showed that the achievement gap, especially for young Latino males persists in Boston,” said Mayor Walsh. “Ms. Uriarte has spent decades in Boston’s Latino community, and has the firsthand knowledge about what policies and investments can be made to make headway on this issue. I’m thrilled that the School Committee will have Ms. Uriarte’s breadth of expertise to inform the future of BPS.”

“Ms. Uriarte has already worked closely with the Boston School Committee as a member of the External Advisory Committee. The EAC developed the student assignment plan currently in use by the District, which seeks to improve equitable access to our highest quality schools across the city,” said Michael O’Neill, Chair of the Boston School Committee. “Additionally, her professional research has been invaluable to the District's efforts to improve programs and opportunities for students who are English Language Learners.  On behalf of my fellow members, we are delighted that she is willing to join the School Committee and have no doubt she will quickly add immeasurably to the challenging work in front of us.”

“I’m a mom with a son who graduated from BPS, a longtime member of Boston’s Latino community, and a researcher who has focused on issues faced by English language learners,” said Uriarte.“I believe in using data, and evidence to make informed decisions about policy development. I’m looking forward to bringing these experiences to the School Committee, and working with a great team.”

Uriarte has been a teacher for 34 years, teaching undergraduate and graduate students at UMass Boston since 1981. Currently, she teaches in the College of Public and Community Service as a professor of Human Services and Latino Studies. In this role she is familiar with the barriers facing Latinos seeking services at existing institutions and the challenges facing human service institutions charged with providing services to Latinos.

From 1989 to 1993 Uriarte was the founding director of the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy at UMass Boston, and again served in the director position from 2000-2001 and from 2005 to 2008. She has focused extensively on Latino communities in her research, documenting various aspects of the Latino experience in the region, and looking at ways in which this community is similar and different to other Latino and immigrant communities across the United States.

Uriarte has also done extensive research on English Language Learners (ELLs) in BPS. She has followed closely the impact on the educational outcomes of ELLs of changes in legislative policy ending bilingual education in the state, and replacing it with sheltered English immersion. Her 2009 research work with colleague Rosann Tung, “English Learners in Boston Public Schools in the Aftermath of Policy Change,” resulted in BPS revamping the ways services were delivered to ELLs in Boston, and the creation of an ELL Task Force by the Boston School Committee. The same research team conducted a subsequent study titled  “Improving Educational Outcomes of English Language Learners in Schools and Programs in Boston Public Schools,” which was released in 2011.

Uriarte’s studies of Latino communities in New England have been commissioned by The Boston Foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She has completed research reports for the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Joint Committee on Education of the Massachusetts Legislature, the Governor’s Latino-American Commission, and the Boston Public Schools. Her work has been published in books, monographs, and journals, and she made extensive academic and public presentations on her work.

Uriarte holds a PhD in Sociology from Boston University, an MSW from the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, and a BA in Psychology from the University of Florida. She is a native Spanish speaker who was born in Cuba and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1961. She has lived in Boston since 1973.

With Uriarte’s appointment all positions on the 7-member school committee are filled. Uriarte is being appointed to the seat recently vacated by Claudio Martinez, which expires on January 4, 2016, and her appointment is effective upon being sworn in by the Mayor. Other committee members include: Michael O'Neill, Chair; Dr. Hardin Coleman, Vice Chair; Meg Campbell; Michael Loconto; Jeri Robinson; and Regina Robinson.

The Boston School Committee is responsible for defining the vision, mission and goals of the Boston Public Schools; establishing and monitoring the annual operating budget; hiring, managing and evaluating the Superintendent; and setting and reviewing district policies and practices to support student achievement.