Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Carol R. Johnson have announced the team of community leaders who will assume the role of members of the city’s external advisory committee for improving school choice. The committee of 12 men and 11 women will work over the next year to help advise the school department as it engages the community on the topic of improving the city’s school assignment system. The committee will be co-chaired by Hardin Coleman, Dean of Education at Boston University and Helen Dájer, parent and former Boston School Committe member.
“This is a top-notch team of people who will help advance this process over the next several months,” Mayor Menino said. “Our goal is to hear from a broad spectrum of the community with a variety of perspectives who will help us shape and move forward with a plan that works for the families of our city.”
In his annual State of the City address in January, Mayor Menino directed Superintendent Johnson to appoint a committee as a step toward adopting “a radically different student assignment plan -- one that puts a priority on children attending schools closer to their homes” within the year.
The external advisory committee will meet monthly in open meetings and will help advise BPS in community engagement strategies, identify data needs, and will provide feedback on possible school choice plans.
“We see this team of individuals as playing an important role in a transparent community engagement process,” said Dr. Johnson. “Our goal is for this to be an inclusive process that brings all voices to the table. This group will ensure we are analyzing this issue from every possible perspective.”
“This work is about the future generations of Bostonians who will grow and learn in our schools,” said Rev. Dr. Gregory G. Groover, Sr., Chairperson of the Boston School Committee. “We must come together and improve the choices parents have in our city so that Boston can continue to lead the way in urban public education.”
The Boston Opportunity Agenda, a partnership among the City of Boston, the Boston Public Schools and the city’s leading public charities, foundations and donors, is rallying behind Mayor Menino’s call to revamp the school assignment process in 2012. Boston Opportunity Agenda partners have committed $400,000 to support this work.
“Any effort to revamp something as complex as Boston’s student assignment system needs to be structured to ensure that parents and community members are engaged and vital players in the discussion,” said Kristin McSwain, Director of Boston Opportunity Agenda. “Investing resources now in the planning increases the likelihood that a plan will be crafted which ensures community voice and equitable solutions.”
Superintendent Johnson also announced today when the first set of community meetings on school choice will take place. The first meeting will be held on Saturday, March 10 followed by a round of small-group meetings later in the month. More meetings will be added throughout the spring, summer and fall before a final proposal is expected to be made to the School Committee in December. Times and locations will be posted at http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/choice.
To view the list of committee members click here.