Education is the key to giving our children a pathway to success, and to ensuring that we can continue to grow our economy. I’ve made education a priority during my time as a City Councilor.
- I championed the opening of elementary schools in underserved neighborhoods and helped create the first elementary public school serving downtown neighborhoods since the Carter administration.
- I organized families in Boston’s downtown neighborhoods to attend area elementary schools at a time when few would
- I brought physical education back to the Tobin K-8 School in Mission Hill and the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers, and helped lead the effort to make physical fitness a priority in all Boston Public Schools.
- I led the effort to create a first-of-its-kind training and educational space in the basement of a state-of-the-art Longwood Medical Area research building, bringing local nonprofits to teach residents the skills they will need to pursue careers in the healthcare industry
- I spearheaded the effort to bring healthy foods to our schools and, with Chef Barbara Lynch, to reopen school greenhouses and gardens to teach children that food comes from the ground and not a can.
Mayor Tom Menino has been a great mayor not just for Boston but also for the Boston Public Schools. BPS is considered one of the best urban school districts in the country – a total turnaround since Menino took office. But there’s still more to be done.
My Top Three Education Priorities
- We need to dramatically improve vocational education, which is currently offered at only one school. Kids who won't be going on to college still need to get the job skills they need to succeed. There’s no reason Boston can’t have a tech/voc school to rival Worcester Tech, if not have one of the best tech/voc schools in the country. Madison Park needs to be overhauled and partner with more industries.
- We need to expand pre-K and early childhood education in communities with struggling schools, with the long-term goal of guaranteeing universal pre-school for every child in Boston. We all know that the number one thing that we can do to dramatically improve our education system is to fully invest in early education - especially among lower income Bostonians who do not have the resources to send their children to private early ed centers. This also means having a mayor who will be a strong supporter of real revenue legislation at the state level that provide for these essential investments.
- We need to lengthen the school day by 2-hours for all our schools. Turnaround schools and some charters have shown incredible results with extended learning time. That doesn’t mean an extra 15 minutes for each subject, but extending the day with access to art, music, physical education and other enrichment activities.
My Comprehensive Plan to Improve Our Schools
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The ultimate goal of our education system is to equip our kids to succeed – in life, in the world of work, in their role as citizens – and that increasingly requires advanced education and training beyond K-12. An education policy that focuses on school operations as an end unto themselves is missing the point: Our goal should be to make sure that every Boston child has the education and opportunity to go as far as his or her abilities will allow. That’s why my main focus is how to make sure that our education system moves every student along sufficiently to go on to college or a good job that provides a ladder to success. That’s where my education policy starts. Read more.
Of course, our school system needs to provide the foundation for that success – and that starts even before children show up for the first day of school. We need to ensure that every Boston child arrives for school ready to learn with sufficient early care and learning, good health, adequate language skills, and healthy food and nutrition. Read more.
Then, obviously, we need to ensure that Boston schools provide the best elementary and secondary education possible. Creating the proper governance structure within which schools operate – a responsive and accountable district, a system that rewards successes and corrects failure – is important, but that sort of “school reform” is really a small part of what improving education consists of. The most important challenge is to improve classroom teaching – followed by making sure that our schools provide every opportunity and learning tool that every child needs to succeed. Read more.
When, finally, we turn our attention from the central issue of the experiences that our children receive inside the classroom and out, and focus on the roles of administrators, teachers and parents, we need to pursue pragmatic solutions not push ideological agendas. I’m for school reform – school reform that works. And that means driving decision-making down to the school and classroom level, away from bureaucrats and politicians – empowering parents, teachers, principals, and students to succeed. Read more.