For Immediate Release
June 09, 2009
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Highlights achievements and articulates action for future successes
Mayor Thomas M. Menino today addressed a crowd of Boston's business leaders during the Chief Executives' Club Luncheon, part of a speakers' series sponsored by Boston College Citizen Seminars in association with the Boston College Carroll School of Management. In his keynote speech, Mayor Menino emphasized the need to transform public education in Boston, a critical facet of the City's long-term economic stability. Noting the substantial progress that the Boston Public Schools have achieved since the early 1990s, the Mayor articulated a strategy to advance the school system to meet the demands of the future. Mayor Menino outlined his plan to accelerate progress by pursuing two reforms – creating a new form of in-district charter schools and introducing performance pay for educators in the Boston Public Schools.
"Although we've made tremendous gains in the Boston Public Schools, I am frustrated with the pace of our progress, especially in our low performing schools," Mayor Menino said. "To get the results we seek – at the speed we want – we must make transformative changes that boost achievement for students, improve quality choices for parents, and increase opportunities for teachers."
Mayor Menino's plan calls for empowering educators to allow them to quickly innovate and implement successful practices. By creating a new form of in-district charter schools, schools will have the greater flexibility they need – in hiring, budgeting, staffing, teacher collaboration, and in the hours kids are in school. To expedite the pace of reform, these schools will be established solely by the school committee. While the staff can unionize, no union approval will be required to create the schools. This flexibility will allow the schools to attract and retain the best teachers and to tailor the school day to students' needs. Accountability will be ensured by performance contracts, and schools that work will be replicated, while those that do not will be closed.
By working with legislative partners on Beacon Hill, Mayor Menino intends for the in-district charter school bill to be passed by the end of this legislative session. If the legislation is not adopted, the Mayor is prepared to support another way forward by calling for the cap on charters to be lifted.
To further transform the school system to provide better educational opportunities to parents and families, Mayor Menino also proposed introducing performance pay for educators. This system will reward teams of educators who achieve significant results in the classrooms of the lowest performing schools. Teachers will be jointly accountable for their students' results, fostering greater collaboration and allowing the Boston Public School system to attract more excellent educators.
"I need you to fight for this legislation," Mayor Menino urged the crowd of leaders at this afternoon's speech. "I need you to demand performance pay. I need you to expand your commitment to summer jobs, putting kids to work right now. Above all, I need you to be strong advocates for excellent education for every school child."
The newly proposed plan builds on the substantial progress that has been made in the school system since the early 1990s, when seven Boston Public Schools were losing accreditation and parents were leaving the district. Under Mayor Menino's leadership, underperforming schools were closed, while pilot and k-to-8 schools were opened. The City began investing heavily in early childhood education, creating full-day kindergarten for four year olds, and applications for kindergarten are now up ten percent. The school system now boasts one of the highest college enrollment rates of any city in the nation. These progressive steps have led U.S. News & World Report to rank eight of Boston's high schools among the nation's best.
In presenting his strategy, Mayor Menino emphasized that while charter schools are not a cure-all for public education, they can be an important part of a comprehensive approach to education – one that surrounds children with opportunities from dawn to dusk and from birth to college graduation. In recent years, Mayor Menino and Superintendent Johnson have worked to introduce a number of other education initiatives that will complement this new strategy. These initiatives include Community Learning, which links schools, libraries, and community centers to provide a continuum of education resources, Thrive in 5, a program that emphasizes early childhood education to prepare children for classroom learning, and "Getting Ready, Getting In, and Getting Through," a collaborative to promote college success and to double the college graduation rate among graduates of the Boston Public Schools.