Hey! These kids CAN learn! Maybe it’s your system and not “THESE PEOPLE”?

Hot off the presses – another new Boston Globe piece about Metco:

Metco students outperforming those in BPS, charter schools

The Harvard report showing that on two key indicators — graduating from high school and enrolling in college, the Metco program is outperforming BPS and charters:

“The four-year graduation rate for students in the Metco program was about 30 percentage points higher than for students of similar demographics in the Boston Public Schools and Boston charter schools. Similarly, the college-enrollment rate of Metco students was 30 percentage points higher than BPS students and 11 percentage points higher than charter school students.”

But on the MCAS proficiency scores, Boston charters still can’t be beat.

“An analysis of MCAS scores in grades 3-8 revealed that while Metco students scored significantly higher than their peers of similar demographics in Boston Public Schools in English and writing, they earned comparable results in math.

Charter schools, on the other hand, outperformed Metco students in all three subjects, though the difference in scores in English and writing were so small that they “may be due to chance alone,” the report said.”

Hmm, Boston Charters have only been around about 23 years or so. Seems like progress.

And why is this happening? No one bothered to ask apparently.

“While the report did not investigate the reasons behind the differences in performance, Ann Mantil, who conducted the research as a doctoral student the Harvard Graduate School of Education, said one potential explanation was the effect of being in a school with other aspirational kids.”

Really? Aspirational kids?

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Doubt it. I think James Vaznis needs to talk to some Metco alumni about what it’s like to be a black kid from Boston surrounded by those white “aspirational” kids in the suburbs. Not always so aspirational.

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But hey, it’s wonderful. And I’m thrilled for those 3,100 kids who seem to be doing well.

But it’s only 3,100 kids. There are 54,000 still in Boston Public Schools.

Why are we seriously continuing to celebrate the fact that we have to ship these children from Boston to another community to provide them access to opportunities that should be available in their own neighborhoods?

After 53 years our children still have to go elsewhere for a shot at a decent education?

I know, I know, it’s supposed to benefit the host communities as well, but do you really think that’s why 15,000 Boston families are trying to get their children on the list — FROM BIRTH?

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The big news is: these new findings completely undermine the argument presented by certain special interest groups around why children in Boston are unable to achieve proficiency.

The misbelief that there is so little to be done with “those kids” who come from “those people” living in challenging economic conditions is completely crumbles when “these kids” are put into suburban schools and charter schools, and eventually outperform their counterparts.

Kids subjected to difficult economic situations, and are given the additional obstacle of having to spend upwards of 3-4 hours in travel time per day to access an adequate education and are still able to outperform their peers?

It’s clear: your “blame parents for being poor and that’s why their kids can’t learn in our schools” narrative is dead.

Kids living in poverty CAN achieve proficiency if they are given rigorous curriculum, access to the same resources and opportunities and are NOT subjected to the belief gap within institutions in proximity to where they live.

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So what now?

53 years after the creation of METCO, some are calling for the expansion of the program.

“Milagros Arbaje-Thomas, chief executive of Metco, known formally as the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity Inc., said the findings show the need to expand such voluntary integration programs, arguing that it prepares both urban students and those in racially isolated communities to be global citizens in a diverse workforce.”

So after 53 years of being unable to educate the children of Boston we want to ship more of them out of the city and ask the suburbs to do the job?

Because they have more … aspirations?

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Can’t we just like … bring the aspirations here so we don’t have to make kids sit on a bus for hours?

In addition, there are other major problems with Metco. Beginning with demographic representation:

‘The program, which relies on word of mouth for marketing, has not kept pace with the changing demographics of Boston’s school-age population, especially the growing number of Latino students. During the 2011-12 school year, for instance, about three-quarters of Metco students in kindergarten through Grade 8 were black, compared to 32 percent in the Boston school system and 57 percent in charter schools, the Harvard research said.

Half of Metco students were low income, while three-quarters of those in the Boston system and charters were. And 3 percent of Metco students had language barriers while almost a third of those in the Boston system were not fluent in English.”

Also, no one knows how the hell you actually get picked for Metco, because it’s a super secret process.

Hey, maybe they should use like a public lottery system to make sure everyone gets a fair shot? Oh, and maybe make sure that the students sent are actually demographically representative of the families within the city of Boston.

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Oh, and speaking of other things that unions like to complain about — is this the part where we start hearing about how Metco syphons money from Boston Public Schools and therefore must die immediately?  

I mean, shouldn’t this additional public option — which much like Boston charter schools (which actually gets our children a step closer to achieving a high quality education within the city of Boston), be crucified for stealing millions with students leaving BPS to attend the METCO program schools.

Where is that outrage?

Perhaps we don’t hear it because the money is funnelled from one union-controlled district budget in the city to another union-controlled district budget in the suburbs?

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And all these results — with the same amount of per pupil spending in Boston and Lexington?

Same trauma-impacted children from Boston, put on a bus to Lexington, and suddenly able to achieve excellence. We clearly have a problem with how we are running THE SYSTEM and spending the money we have.

Seems like just another glaring example of the games being played in education politics where the arguments have nothing to do with outcomes for children, but instead, which group of selfish adults gets to divvy up the pie to ensure they get the biggest slice.

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Boy, do we have work to do.


What do you think?

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