Over the last several years, numerous studies and reports have detailed the systemic and long-standing challenges related to equity and quality in the Boston Public Schools. Despite the many bright spots and assets we have in our classrooms and community, I am struck by the sense that progress in education often gets stuck in Boston. I’m calling for Action for Boston Children. Will you join me?
Leading with Equity
We began by defining educational equity, which I believe should be the overarching principle that guides us as we work together to unlock progress for our children. Equity is giving every child what they need to succeed in school and pursue the life of their choosing. In Boston, we must commit to the idea that those who have the least deserve the most from our public schools.
After hearing from a broad, diverse set of voices in the community over the last several months, I see four areas as most critical. While I encourage you to read the full plan, each of these areas begins with a guiding value that—fully realized—has the potential to accelerate action for our children.
- A CENTRAL OFFICE THAT SERVES SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITY. We are first and foremost in service of our students and families: our schools are accountable for supporting students and families, and central office is accountable for supporting schools – not the other way around.
- ACCESS TO QUALITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Make a choice real for families: more quality schools to choose from, equitable access to the quality schools we have, and an assignment system that families understand.
- EARLY FOUNDATIONS TO LIFELONG LEARNING. A foundation for education system starts by asking: what does our typical Boston parent need to ensure that their children, from birth to five, have access to quality programs that put them on a path of lifelong learning?
- HIGH SCHOOLS THAT PREPARE STUDENTS FOR SUCCESS. High schools are a critical gateway to adulthood. They must guide and provide students with opportunities to achieve the knowledge, experiences, and skills they need to succeed in the life of their choosing.
At the heart of this report I put forth a set of action steps in each area. In the past, BPS has “agreed” with outside research, but left its response vague enough that it is hard to know what is really changing. In this report, I recommend specific action steps, along with expectations for timing. These won’t solve everything, but they can create momentum towards greater equity and excellence.
- A CENTRAL OFFICE THAT SERVES SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITY
- Collect and publicize central office perception and satisfaction data of school leaders and families on an annual basis, along with concrete steps central office will take to address areas needing improvement.
- Hold school support leaders and teams at central office accountable for student and school outcomes at the schools they serve.
- Overhaul the Welcome Centers to establish a consistent quality of experience that is inclusive, welcoming, and supportive of families as they navigate the school assignment process.
- ACCESS TO QUALITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
- Set a goal for the number of quality (Tier 1) seats in the system, publicize the goal, and develop a plan for how to expand the number of quality seats.
- Place more special education and English Learner programs in high demand, high-quality schools over the next 1-3 years.
- Modify the Home-Based Assignment formula to enhance equity.
- Recognize and support schools that aim to innovate and collaborate with one another to strengthen access to quality within a community.
- EARLY FOUNDATIONS TO LIFELONG LEARNING
- Provide a transparent and comprehensive accounting on the progress made toward universal pre-K for four-year-olds.
- Map the continuum of options for birth to five, and publicize key data related to these options on an annual basis.
- Create a clear function that “owns” the birth to five early childhood strategy for Boston.
- HIGH SCHOOLS THAT PREPARE STUDENTS FOR SUCCESS
- Publicize and share post-secondary enrollment and completion data, disaggregated by high school and by subgroup, on an annual basis.
- Establish common graduation standards across high schools, with a focus on what students should be learning and a common expectation for rigor.
- Create a new process for open enrollment schools to develop and launch innovative school model redesigns, starting by piloting such an effort in a few schools.
Calling on You
Over the past several years, I have had the privilege of speaking to hundreds of community members, educators, school leaders, district officials, students and families—and their collective perspectives inform this work today. But this is only the beginning. Progress will not happen without a coalition of champions. Even as I call for change from my seat in City Council and as a candidate for Mayor, I implore you to join us in our call for Action for Boston Children.