Boston Public Schools at Risk of State Takeover
Updated: Jun 27, 2022
By Vikrant Sabharwal
Mayor Michelle Wu and the city council of Boston are looking to ward off a state takeover of the public school system.
The prospect of a state takeover came from a report that was released by the state recently. The report revealed how there were severe issues in the Boston Public School (BPS) system that need to be fixed urgently. The problems that the report emphasized revolved around aging facilities, the teaching of special education as well as English as a foreign language, and violence taking place in and around schools. The report also showed staggering rates of absenteeism in the schools.
In a press conference, Wu insisted a state takeover would be counterproductive for the public school system. She says this because there is already work underway to improve many of the issues that the report emphasized. For example, the city has already made a large investment of $2 million in school facilities. If the state enacts the takeover, the city council would respond by presenting its case in a public hearing.
Per the orders of Massachusetts’ Education Department, Boston has created a sophisticated plan to improve the school system. As part of their plan, the school district looks to audit school safety protocols by mid-August, review the condition of poorly maintained school facilities, and revise their curriculums and programs for their special education and foreign language students. Their plan will be more difficult and may take longer to implement, however, since the current superintendent is resigning. There are currently two finalists running for the superintendent position.
After BPS finalizes its plan, it will be reviewed by Commissioner Jeffery Riley, and the state will respond to the situation accordingly.
Several in the Boston school district were unhappy that the commissioner was continuing to allow the City of Boston to fix their mistakes rather than having the state take over the situation directly.
One of those concerned, Matt Hills, board member of a Boston school, warned Riley against accepting the city's then-unpublished plan. He said "the problems run deep and you're leaving yourself open to not get the kind of deal you think you're going to get."
In response to criticism, Commissioner Riley reaffirmed his trust in the mayor, saying that Wu deserves an opportunity to improve these issues under her administration. He said he will keep looking for the best methods to support BPS. "If I believe that there's a path forward that's in the best interest of the children of Boston, I'm gonna do that."