Boston deserves a public education system that provides a high quality education to every child. Under its appointed school committee, graduation rates and student performance have made steady gains, and student enrollment is increasing, suggestive of rising public confidence in Boston Public Schools. In spite of progress, not all schools and students are experiencing success. For example, 72 percent of Boston Public Schools are designated level 3 or 4, which are among the lowest 20 percent of all schools in Massachusetts. Only 66 percent of incoming ninth graders graduate high school in four years, and only 33 percent of high school graduates complete college. As academic standards are increasing to keep pace globally, disparities in academic performance continue between Asian and White students and Latino/a and African-American students.
Marty Walsh believes that the future success and economic viability of the City of Boston is inextricably tied to the success of each of our public schools. He understands that education is critical to job creation, and knows that our public schools must develop a well-rounded workforce prepared to compete in the global market place. Marty also knows how neighborhoods depend on quality schools. Parents should not have their children transported across the city, or have to send them outside of Boston, to receive a quality, empowering education. Our schools should contribute to our communities’ quality of life, and attract families to stay in our neighborhoods. Marty knows an investment in public education is an investment in our collective future.
As mayor, Marty accepts responsibility to ensure: (1) every Boston Public School is a high quality school; (2) every student is on a path to graduate high school prepared for success in college and career; and, (3) parents have options among high quality schools closer to home.
Marty’s plan is to immediately build on current strengths within Boston Public Schools, and simultaneously develop and implement a long-term strategy based on equity, access, accountability, transparency and collaboration to provide a top-notch education for all of Boston’s children. Success will require taking a hard look at current practice, the political will to make tough, necessary changes, and the collaboration of families, educators, and partners across the city to realize a shared vision.
ACCESS: The Walsh Administration will ensure that all students have access to high quality public schools close to their homes that prepare them for success in college and careers upon graduation.
- Expand the K1 Program to Establish Universal Access – If we are serious about helping all students graduate high school ready for success in college and careers, we cannot wait until kindergarten to start their formal education. Less than half the city’s four-year olds are enrolled in a Boston Public Schools’ Kindergarten 1 program. The Walsh Administration will double the number of full-day K1 seats in four years. It will not be easy. The average cost of a full-day pre-kindergarten program is $7,000 per child. Even if we had funding for such programs, we don’t have space. Marty has announced his comprehensive approach to create a solid education program that maximizes learning time for children. The Walsh plan includes: (1) strategies to provide adequate funding for the maximum number of students; (2) a short and long-term facilities plan so that seats are available in the neighborhoods where they are needed; (3) support for parents as partners in preparing their children to be kindergarten ready; and, (4) a pool of adequately prepared and licensed pre-kindergarten teachers.
- Provide More Opportunities for Pathways to College and Careers – The Walsh Administration will expand science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics pathways so more students are exposed to rigorous learning opportunities beginning in elementary school. Programs and supports will help each student demonstrate proficiency. Preparation for post-secondary learning will start in middle school, where students will have access to more rigorous courses that lead to Advanced Placement options in high school and prepare them for high paying careers that require further education.
- Tackle High School Reform – The Walsh Administration will create and implement a three-part long-term strategy for improving high schools. First, Marty will establish 9th and 10th grade academies in every community high school to ensure that every entering 9th grader, by the end of the 10th grade, gains the academic knowledge and 21st century skills necessary to be on track for success in college and careers in four years. Schools are accountable for committing to do all they can to strengthen literacy programs, expand summer programs that prepare entering 9th graders for high school, provide support to English language learners and students with disabilities, and provide counseling and support for social and emotional growth and academic skills. Each 9th grader will have an individualized achievement plan that describes their course of study leading to graduation, which in some cases, may include a fifth year of high school. Students are accountable to make good use of supports available to them. Second, each 11th and 12th grade student will be offered academic and career pathways. Having a solid academic foundation, entering 11th grade students who are interested can choose a course of study leading to a liberal arts college experience, and/or choose a course of study that prepares them for careers in high-need, high-paying industries. Third, Marty will convert Madison Park Vocational Technical High School to a Career Technical High School. The Walsh Administration will create a model career and technical high school, on par with Boston’s best schools, that prepares students interested in technical, high-need and high-paying industries such as construction technology, engineering/sustainable energy, health care, early childhood education, computer science/computer design and financial services. Building on a strong 9th and 10th grade academic program, students will graduate with a high school diploma, certification in a trade, and the skills to attain an advanced degree.
- Deepen Literacy Skills for All Students Kindergarten through Grade 12 – The Walsh Administration will help students and their parents better understand that, whether they plan to go to college or pursue a career, they must read and write at a level beyond high school. Further, parents and their children need to be aware of the importance of reading at grade level by third-grade as an indicator of on-time graduation. Partnerships will be fostered that strengthen and expand school and community-based reading and writing programs, heighten awareness of the importance of reading at home and during the summer. Dual language acquisition programs and reading comprehension for English language learners will be included.
- Rethink Middle Schools with School Administrators Leading the Implementation of a Broad and Challenging Curriculum within a Safe and Secure Environment – Middle schools need strong leaders and an investment in programs to provide a safe, broad and academically challenging environment. Leaders will be expected to increase project-based learning shown to be successful in engaging middle school students, fully implementing of a system that leads to positive behavior outcomes and varied afterschool programs for academic enrichments, the arts and athletics. The Walsh Administration will ensure all schools meet the BPS requirements for the minimum amount of instruction in the arts weekly. Further, the Walsh Administration will extend social and emotional learning programs, currently operating in 23 elementary schools, to middle schools. The Walsh Administration will plan to place middle schools into kindergarten-grade 8 or grade 6-12 feeder patterns and have sending and receiving schools collaborate to reduce transitions between grades and increase accountability for student success.
- Support and Strengthen Efforts to Raise Achievement of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners – Attention to the learning needs of student with disabilities and English language learners is very much a part of each of the areas described above. In addition, Marty recognizes the achievement of students with disabilities can be accelerated by participation in inclusion classes with their differently abled peers. The Walsh Administration will continue support for current plans to expand the number of inclusion schools, and will increase support for principals and teachers to learn about co-teaching models, Common Core Standards and differentiating instruction. The Walsh Administration will continue support for dual-language schools which, in addition to improving language acquisition, enable students of different backgrounds to learn language from one another and understand and appreciate diverse cultures. The Walsh Administration will work with advocates and parents to ensure that services for students with disabilities and English language learners are not disrupted as students transition between grades or move across schools.
- Support and Strengthen the New Student Assignment Plan – The Walsh Administration will anticipate obstacles that prevent parents having access to their neighborhood schools, such as easing enrollment processes. Progress toward the September 2014 implementation of the BPS student assignment plan will be monitored, and an ombuds office for a student assignment plan will be created in City Hall to ensure that parents have access to schools closer to home. The Walsh Administration will establish an annual review of the Student Assignment Plan to make needed adjustments based on input from parents and community members.
- Embrace and Support the Implementation of the Common Core State Standards – The Walsh Administration will ensure each and every school has a plan to integrate the Common Core State Standards into daily instruction, prepare teachers to teach the standards, and help students demonstrate their knowledge and skills.
ACCOUNTABILITY: The Walsh Administration will assume responsibility for improving the educational opportunities for all students and develop a robust system for monitoring and reporting on continuous progress for all schools.
- Work with the Boston School Committee to Select a Superintendent who Shares Marty’s Vision – Selecting the next superintendent is one of the most important decisions facing the new administration. It is critical that the superintendent fully embraces the Mayor’s vision and is committed to its success. The core of Marty’s vision is that every Boston Public School will be a high quality school. The next superintendent must be willing to build on the strengths of the current system; design proven, bold approaches to accountability and autonomy for central office departments and schools; collaborate and bring stakeholders together to achieve the vision; and be honest about the challenges Boston Public Schools face in ensuring that every student graduates ready for success in college and careers.
- Maintain a Mayoral-Appointed School Committee – Marty supports an appointed school committee. This is the best way to ensure a body that fully reflects all the stakeholders in quality public education, including those with direct experience providing education, and those who understand the importance of prioritizing the needs of the whole child in an urban school setting. Boston voters agree. Boston voters have twice voted for an appointed committee over an elected one. Voters want to know the Mayor is ultimately accountable for the quality of the public schools. As Mayor, Marty will not shirk from being accountable.
- Redesign the Boston Public Schools’ Central Office to Promote Equity, Serve Schools, Increase Autonomy and Hold Schools Accountability for Results – The Walsh Administration will build a central office that knows schools well, and serves them well. The first step is to evaluate central office programs to determine their effectiveness. Funding from central office programs that are duplicative and can be better managed by schools will be allocated to schools directly. Central office departments will be redesigned into streamlined cross-functional units and held accountable for how well they provide support and service to schools. School supervisors will closely monitor schools in order to know which school leaders to support, which to push, and which to grant autonomy so that each and every Boston Public School is among the very best schools in Massachusetts.
- Expand and Develop Principal Leadership Training Programs – The Walsh Administration will focus on “deepening the bench” of potential school leaders who know how to work with teachers to improve instructional practices tied to the Common Core State Standards. Every principal will be expected to identify and mentor his/her successor. Principals will work for equity of opportunity to rigorous programs and ensure access for all students, embrace continuous improvement, engage parents and their communities in building supportive learning environments, and hold themselves, the central office, teachers and students accountable for student success.
TRANSPARENCY: The Walsh Administration will provide access and information so that parents, administrators, and teachers can make informed decisions.
- Establish an On-Line Progress Monitoring System – The Walsh Administration will develop and implement a data system that allows students and parents to follow student progress in meeting grade-level expectations on milestones connected to high school graduation. The system, similar to those now operating in other large urban districts, will use early warning indicators to alert parents, students, and their teachers that students are not on-track for timely graduation.
- Revamp Human Resources –The Walsh Administration will streamline processes to attract and broaden the pool of qualified administrators and teachers from diverse backgrounds committed to a career in Boston Public Schools. Strong partnerships with local colleges and universities, and support for accelerated programs that prepare teachers for urban schools, such as those offered at the University of Massachusetts Boston, will be developed to supply qualified candidates. Systems and incentive will be implemented to retain strong principal and teacher leaders with appropriate compensation. Hiring policies, and the BPS human resources career website, will be revamped so that highly qualified applicants have easier access to a transparent application process which enables principals to select teachers that best fit their schools’ needs.
COLLABORATION: The Walsh Administration will reduce silos, build cross-functional teams, actively engage neighborhoods and parents, seek efficiencies, and engage – rather than blame – teachers. Collaboration breeds investment in our public schools and both are central to seeing our children succeed.
- Build, Renovate and Maintain a Supply of Quality Schools for Boston – The Walsh Administration will establish a Boston School Building Oversight Council, which will bring existing school and City departments together to develop a single, long-term plan for building, renovating, and maintaining quality school buildings. The Council will lead a process to ensure school buildings are located in the communities in which school-aged students live, provide environments that allow students to learn in extended day programs and during the summer, and allow for flexibility to change grade levels as communities change. Marty has announced his intention to invest $1 billion in school facilities in 10 years, without increasing the burden on Boston’s taxpayers.
- Engage the Boston Teachers Union as a Partner in Creating Quality Schools – Each school should have the flexibility to ensure every student is proficient in meeting rigorous standards developed in partnership with educators, administrators, and parents. The Walsh Administration will work with the Boston Teachers Union to provide options based on schools’ needs and performance, including adding time to the school day designated for enrichment and extra support for students, as well as collaboration, planning and professional development for teachers in professional learning communities.
- Engage Parents as Partners – The Walsh Administration will encourage principals and school teams to work with parents as partners in supporting their children’s academic and social-emotional growth and development. BPS schools will expand their use of research-based approaches to foster successful school-family partnership. The approaches include making parents feel welcome, included and respected; reinforcing the importance of parent/family engagement through critical middle-high school years; assisting parents in setting expectations and aspirations for their children and reinforcing the importance of homework to academic success; and providing information to parents about school and community resources available to support their child’s education. Approaches to family engagement will be emphasized in principal leadership training.
- Provide Wrap-Around Services for Students – The Walsh Administration will engage community organizations that provide services to students that address their social-emotional and physical development. Community agencies and non-profits can do more to help teachers recognize the impact of trauma on students, and provide them with the skills to be resilient, make healthy choices and informed decisions about their bodies and persist in their learning through high school and beyond. Students and their families will know their schools as places that offer on-site support, counseling, the arts, and sports to young people. Creating wrap-around services will enrich the experiences and safety of Boston’s children and improve their community’s quality of life.
- Institute Community Service Learning – Community service learning benefits both the individual student and the broader community. Students gain hands on skills and become active and engaged citizens while meeting community needs. Studies have also shown that students who volunteer are more likely to stay in school than those who do not. In large cities across the country, including Seattle, Chicago, and Washington, DC, high school students must not only perform a set number of community service hours in order to graduate, but must also reflect upon their service in a culminating project or paper. Under a Walsh Administration, Marty will work with Boston Public Schools to create a community service learning requirement for high school graduation, incorporating best practices from other cities, to encourage students to actively connect their academic learning to the needs of their city.
- Embrace the Arts – The Walsh Administration will ensure that arts programs exist in every school and will expand access to the arts within schools through the curriculum and by engaging local artists in the schools. Partnerships will engage students in an artistic renaissance to enrich their communities while broadening student expression and learning.
Marty recognizes that some investment of additional funds, particularly to make K1 universal across the city, will be necessary to achieve our vision. The Walsh Administration will be aggressive in working with federal elected officials and agencies, the Massachusetts State House, and corporate and non-profit partners to increase revenues for targeted programs. Many of the proposed actions can be accomplished through a better use of current resources by stopping practices that are ineffective, creating efficiencies through transparency, collaboration and partnerships.
Marty Will Make It Happen as Mayor: Proven Results in Education -- In his 16 years as a state legislator, Marty has demonstrated a strong commitment to education for all students and their families. He has fought to ensure access to quality and equity for students and families. For example, Marty has:
- supported access to rigorous academic programs through a $2.6 expansion of Advanced Placement and Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) programs
- supported and worked for the passage of 2010 School Reform Act to increase assistance to the most struggling public schools
- supported legislation to increase protections and services for school-aged children, such as anti-bullying legislation
- worked to provide school options to parents and students of Dorchester when none existed. He is a founding board member of the high performing Neighborhood House Charter School. He worked behind the scenes to relocate Cristo Rey Boston High School to Dorchester. Cristo Rey students learn and pay for their education as they gain work experience. And, Marty helped create Elizabeth Seton Academy, an independent school for girls, which boasts a 100 percent college acceptance rate
- strongly supported legislation that created the Massachusetts School Building Authority which has distributed nearly $10B billion in state reimbursement for school construction and renovation
- Marty created Building Pathways, a program that prepares low-income residents for rewarding, high-paying careers in the building and construction trades. The program seeks to bring persons of color and women into the trades to ensure a strong, diverse workforce. Since its launch in 2011, Building Pathways has placed 54 graduates into paid apprenticeship programs. Of the 54 graduates now working in the field as laborers, electricians, plumbers, sheet metal workers, 50 are persons of color, and 20 are women. He will replicate the success of this program on a larger scale within the Boston Public Schools
Marty’s proven experience shows that he is uniquely positioned to build citywide consensus among stakeholders throughout the city and form the broad city and state collation necessary to solve the most difficult challenges to creating high quality schools. Our children depend on access to high quality schools as does our city’s future. The Walsh Administration will not let either down.
- Economic Development
- Public Safety
- Public Health
- Energy, Environment, and Sustainability
- Parks and Recreation
- Neighborhood & Constituent Services
- Technology and Innovation
- Cultural Affairs
- Persons With Disabilities
- Public/Private Partnerships
- Boston’s Immigrant Communities
- Communities of Color in Boston
- Elder Care and Services
- Women's Issues
- Youth Policy
- Animal Care and Control