Note: These are excerpts from each section. These paragraphs are not continuous in the original.
As a parent with three children currently enrolled in Boston public schools, Michael shares residents’ concerns about our school assignment process and the city’s ability to provide equal educational opportunities to all of Boston’s children. There is no easy solution.
In exchange for greater autonomies, school principals should be required to meet higher standards and deliver better results, especially our underperforming schools which comprise 38% of our 143 schools. Similar to the review system required for the state’s charter schools, our public schools – with their increased powers and authorities – should undergo a thorough and frequent review process where problems could be identified and addressed early.
Putting Students Back on Track
Early and thorough monitoring of student performance. Research indicates that the signs for dropping out begin at the earliest of grade levels and include attendance and behavior, as well as academic performance. As a strong proponent of tracking data and data sharing, Michael has repeatedly stated the need for comprehensive tracking and monitoring of students, and that this data be shared with teachers so that they can anticipate and design their class instruction in a way that best meets the overall needs of his or her students.
Restoring peace to our schools. In the fall of 2007, the Harvard School of Public Health released a study that revealed 60% of its surveyed high school students reported being a witness to a violent crime and one third reported being directly involved in a fight. The 2006 PIC study reported that many youth cited a fear of violence as an obstacle to academic achievement and a reason for dropping out. Subscribing to the belief that a productive learning environment requires a safe learning environment, Michael has been a long-term proponent of returning street workers to the schools where they can diffuse student conflict before it escalates into street violence. He has held two City Council hearings on the issue and will put his calls into practice if he becomes Mayor.
Strengthen Boston’s Public Education Pipeline
Improving transition from high school to college. A 2008 report released by the Boston Private Industry Council and BPS revealed disappointing findings, further indicating a troubled school district. According to the report, two-thirds of BPS graduates from the Class of 2000 who enrolled in college failed to earn a degree. At the time of the report’s release, Michael called upon city leaders to consider bringing an Early College High School (ECHS) to Boston. As Mayor, Michael will work with the city’s education partners and concerned parents to explore the feasibility a Boston-based ECHS.
Expanding School Choice
Many critics of charter schools have charged that the success in charter schools has more to do with demographics than curriculum design and implementation. However, a breakthrough January 2009 study by The Boston Foundation debunked the myth that high student performance at charter schools is a result of student “pedigree” and not innovative teaching practices. The study controlled for the intangible factors of parent involvement and student motivation by tracking the MCAS scores over time of two groups of charter school applicants who either enrolled at a charter or attended BPS. The results revealed that the charter school students outperformed the BPS students, particularly in middle school math. Advocates for charter schools believe this study highlights that the curriculums and policies of charter schools – not student demographics – are the reason for high student performance at charters.
Preparing Students for the Green Economy
That’s why Michael believes that the city should formalize these opportunities by establishing a green vocational school within the city’s public school system where they can learn about the importance of sustainable innovation and receive the appropriate guidance and encouragement to pursue productive career paths such as those in the green economy.