Boston to Deepen Ties Between Traditional District, Charter, and Catholic Schools
Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced Wednesday Boston will expand its innovative compact between district, charter, and Catholic schools with a $3.25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Sixteen cities were invited to compete for the award based upon prior compact work and Boston was one of just seven to receive funding in this round of awards.
The Compact, which Mayor Menino launched in late 2011, formally links district public schools, public charter schools, and private Catholic schools around common goals and shared visions. The shared goal is to improve teaching and learning for all Boston children. The new funds are aimed at supporting that goal through deeper collaboration between schools and growing existing partnerships.
“I represent every student in Boston, no matter which school he or she attends,” Mayor Menino said. “This award will help all our schools work together to ensure every child gets a great education.”
Since its launch, all 128 Boston Public Schools, all 16 charter operators, as well as 22 Catholic schools have formally joined the compact, which represents 88 percent of Boston students.
“The goal is to support these communities in significantly boosting the number of students enrolled in high-performing schools. These cities understand that opening the lines of communication and sharing best practices across schools are an effective way to do that,” said Vicki Phillips, director of education, College Ready, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “They have moved beyond the question of whether charters or district schools are better and are working together to benefit all students in these communities. These cities serve as models for what collaboration can do, and we applaud these local leaders for their commitment to advancing college readiness.”
The Gates Foundation awarded Boston this funding because of the city’s track record of collaboration and its shared focus on improving outcomes for English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and Black and Latino boys.
The grant will allow the compact to train 250 teachers and administrators to improve instruction for English Language Learners, which is the fastest growing population of students in Boston. It will also help launch three more school performance partnerships. Already, a partnership between Boston Collegiate Charter School, Jeremiah E. Burke High School and Cristo Rey High School has led to improved changes in lesson plans to meet new federal standards. Another partnership between the Harbor School and Neighborhood House Charter School has allowed teachers to share proven classroom practices in math and English language arts, resulting in improved academic performance for students.
Grant funding from the Gates Foundation and other foundations will support efforts to identify and grow local initiatives aimed at accelerating performance for Black and Latino boys. Funding will also support an ongoing compact collaboration to coordinate and simplify the enrollment process for families while also creating new ways for all schools to support all students, regardless of language skills or special needs.
After just one year, the Compact has already led to changes that are benefiting students:
- Teachers and administrators from eight BPS schools, four charter schools and two Catholic schools regularly visit each other’s classrooms to share best practices and learn from each other
- Middle school principals and department heads from BPS and public charter schools have worked together to improve literacy instruction
- Schools are also moving toward a common enrollment calendar and have established shared school showcase events to make it easier for families to compare and select schools
“We launched this compact in part so our great teachers can share what they have learned around educating all students,” said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol R. Johnson. “We have also watched our charter and catholic school partners excel in many areas, and we know we can learn from them, too. This grant will help deepen a relationship that is going to help all our city’s children.”
"Charter public schools have always sought to become an integral part of an education system that benefits all students," Kevin Andrews, Chairman of the Boston Charter Alliance and Headmaster of The Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester. "This compact ensures that teachers and principals will work together and learn from each other to improve education across the city for our children. We hope this compact can be replicated in other cities in the Commonwealth and serve as an example for the nation."
“Catholic schools joined this compact to share our best practices and learn from our public and charter school peers,” said Mary Grassa O’Neill, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Boston. “We believe it is essential for all students in the city of Boston to receive a rigorous education and collaboration among schools is crucial in this endeavor. This partnership helps ensure a bright future.”
More information about the compact can be found at http://bostoncompact.weebly.com