Question of a state takeover of BPS stirs debate

In The News

May 20, 2022

Receivership is not a cure-all, but it enables key gains

The Globe’s story about state receivership falls short of a full analysis (“Results lag on state takeovers of schools,” Page A1, May 16). Receivership is not a cure-all, but it enables important improvements.

Here is a remarkable truth: A Lawrence diploma signals the fulfillment of more rigorous academic requirements than a Boston diploma. Every high school graduate in Lawrence, for example, meets the standards of MassCore, a program of study intended to align high school coursework with college and workforce expectations (this was true even before Lawrence went into receivership). In Boston only 37 percent meet this state benchmark, and that includes exam school students.

Any assessment of receivership should include increases in graduation rates in Lawrence and Holyoke, a life-changing difference for thousands of students. Lawrence’s dropout rate was cut nearly in half. Holyoke nearly doubled its MassCore completion rate. Lawrence brought more students into full-inclusion classrooms, while Southbridge built a therapeutic high school for students with significant needs. There are real MCAS gains: In Lawrence, the percentage of 10th graders scoring proficient or better in English language arts increased from 48 percent to 74 percent from 2010 to 2018.

Successful strategies deployed by receivers could be implemented in Boston without a state takeover. The point is that they haven’t been. Families have been waiting for generations. Receivership creates the conditions for changes that benefit students. There may be other strategies, but no one at Boston Public Schools or City Hall has offered solutions on par with receivership’s powers.

With or without state receivership, Boston’s students and families deserve a real plan and a legitimate promise of transformational change, regardless of its label.

This letter originally appeared in The Boston Globe.