In 2013, BPS embarked on an endeavor to fully understand the barriers to educational opportunity and attainment for Black and Latino male students. The findings were important and found uneven suspension rates and limited access to critical inclusion settings, advanced work classes and exam schools. The report also offered recommendations for changing underlying practices that can improve outcomes for students. The report delineated recommendations that build on the strengths and values that Black and Latino male students bring to our schools and communities. It also acknowledged the work already underway in BPS to close the gaps, which includes expanded pre-kindergarten, increased inclusive opportunities, changes to our discipline policies that reduce suspensions, investments to diversify our educator pool, and successful re-engagement efforts that have led to an historic low in dropout rates for BPS students.
With that information now in hand, we decided to dive even deeper. Promising Practices and Unfinished Business: Fostering Equity and Excellence for Black and Latino Males is the second phase of the report former Superintendent Carol Johnson commissioned.
Promising Practices highlights effective practices that exist in the profiled schools and identifies opportunities to replicate them more widely. We have the tools – and I believe we are ready – to move from instances of best practices to a system of equity and opportunity for all of our students. Yet, we cannot do it alone. Our work is a collective effort and a continuous effort. It requires community support. It will span - and must withstand - leadership changes. I have been fortunate to carry the torch - to move from theory to practice many of the report’s recommendations. I know that Dr. Tommy Chang will take to heart the urgency of this matter when he assumes the Superintendency later this year.
Our success lies in understanding who we are as a city, even as populations shift and change; acknowledging that our different experiences make us stronger; and, digging deep to understand and incorporate practices that intentionally draw on cultural responsiveness and expand educational opportunities. Several partnerships made this work tangible, and we are grateful to the Barr Foundation, the Center for Collaborative Education and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University for the role each played in developing the study and recommendations.
On behalf of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the Boston School Committee, our school leaders, teachers, staff, students and parents, thank you for this tremendous opportunity. Building on a solid history of firsts in education, let us strive to be first again, by leading innovative efforts and practices that foster equity and access for all of our students.