Pioneer Institute calls for improvements to Boston’s public schools

Pioneer Institute calls for improvements to Boston’s public schools

May 26, 2022 0 By Brent Addleman

A public policy research group is urging Boston Mayor Michelle Wu to consider receivership as an option for the city’s beleaguered public school system.

Pioneer Institute, in a letter to the former lawyer turned politician, cited the city’s political class’ habit of “sweeping intractable problems under the rug,” while calling for an urgent need for reform within the district’s walls.

Pioneer Institute Executive Director Jim Stergios pointed to the school system’s dismal 53% graduation rate as “just one in a long litany of troubles” and wrote that the “chaotic management” style and “willful misleading” of information to the public as reasons for concern.

Stergios, in his letter, called for the state and city officials to come together to provide stable leadership for the district, address the mistrust and oversight that exists, and configure a plan to improve conditions and educational standards.

The state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has performed two audits on the city school system over the past two years, finding that issues with student performance are tied to sagging graduation rates and enrollment, transportation, and what has been deemed serious challenges across a broad range of functions in the school district.

The first audit was conducted in 2019, 11 years after the creation of the Office of School and District Accountability was established. The review revealed the district was not providing adequate services to students with disabilities and English learners in accordance to law, the audit said.

The performance evaluation also showed operational dysfunction in transportation and facilities management, a lack of quality curricula and effective instruction practices at the high school level which resulted in a pattern of inequitable access.

The report also revealed a lack of stable and supportive culture with a lack of trust between schools and district staff, stemming from turnover of superintendents and central office staff.

A follow-up review conducted by the department this spring, revealed that items outlined in a memorandum of understanding between the state organization and the school district showed the district was not fully administering the pact. It was found the district provide false and misleading information in transportation, bathroom facility renovations, enrollment and graduation data, and more.

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