What Works in Boston

Following up on yesterday’s post about the editorial in the Washington Post explaining that if the District’s schools are to succeed they should follow the lead of high-performing charter schools, I wanted to draw attention to an editorial in the Boston Globe that, in significant ways, picks up where the Post editorial left off. As part of a series of pieces about how Boston can re-configure the school assignment process to be more fair and perhaps even cost-efficient, the editorial explains that what matters is not the actual location of where children attend school, but rather that the school itself find ways to be effective.

The editorialist then highlights three elements of successful schools: strong leaders, dynamic school culture/high expectations and expanded time.  The editorial even singles out the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown as having “amply demonstrated the value of more time.”  (If you want to learn more about the Edwards, check out our profile from a couple of years ago.)  
For those of us in the field every day, nothing the editorial says about how to build effective schools is anything new.  What is new, of course, is the growing sense among thought leaders—and certainly the Globe editorial page qualifies—that the kind of schools that generate high student achievement are not only possible in disadvantaged neighborhoods, but they can be common. Geography does not have to be destiny, if leaders and individuals take on the challenge of making schools all that they can and should be. And, as the editorial concludes, “It will take a continued community-wide effort, building on the foundation established in recent years. But the sense of commitment is visible.”  For that commitment, we can be thankful.